As the true scope of the coronavirus crisis came into view, Donald Trump decided to cast himself as a "wartime president" standing up against an "invisible enemy": Covid-19. But it seems he has grown tired of this new shtick; he told the country on Tuesday that he could see a "light at the end of the tunnel" and that he hopes to recommend people who have been socially isolating to halt the spread of the virus to start returning to work by Easter, even though no public health expert is recommending this.
Trump claimed that this date is open to change and that he'll only make the decision in consultation with his advisors and on the science. But in a new tweet on Wednesday afternoon, the president seemed to abandon all these caveats and implied that the efforts to keep social distancing measures in place were a plot against him by the media.
"The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success," Trump wrote. "The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!"
CNN's Jake Tapper responded in kind: "Just complete and utter nonsense. We’re reporting on what top health officials IN THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION are saying so as to responsibly deal with the pandemic and save lives."
And speaking on MSNBC, Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire pointed out how revealing the president's tweet was.
"He just spelled it out for us," Lemire said. "His attempts at being re-elected, his interest in being re-elected is fueling a lot of these decisions right now. It's about politics far more than public health."
Indeed, it was clear from comments made by Dr. Anthony Fauci — one of the top administration experts on viruses — on Tuesday that he is not on board with the "open up by Easter" plan, and he doesn't think the data will support such a policy.
"You can look at a date, but you’ve got to be veryflexible," Fauci said. Tuesday
There are certainly many in the media who would like to see Trump out of office. But that's clearly not the driving factor behind the push for sustained social distancing measures — even many Republicans agree with these ideas. Of course, countries across the world are adopting these measures, and they're not all in on a plot to thwart Trump's re-election. And many in the media have favored substantial spending by Congress to ameliorate the coming recession, even though a more severe recession may make Trump's 2020 chances even worse.
The truth is that it's Trump who can't make a decision based on any criteria other than how it affects him. That's why he thought it was bad that interest rates were low under President Barack Obama but that they shouldn't be raised once he was in office. That's why he endlessly politicized the response to the Ebola crisis in 2014, even though now he urges against politicizing the coronavirus crisis.
Now he claims that the media is out to undermine his re-election by pushing for stringent health measures. But he reveals in the tweet itself that he doesn't care about public health or the science at all — instead, he talks about what "real people want." This is pure campaign rhetoric and nothing more. Trump's brain has never left the campaign trail, and the country could be left much worse off because of it.