The 45th President of the U.S. Chapter V Feb 2020 –

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Donald Trump: protests, opposition, rebukes and repudiation
The 45th President of the U.S. Chapters I, II, III & IV
“Get Me Roger Stone”

Greg Sargent: How to interview a serial liar and narcissist who is unfit to be president
(WaPo) Axios’s Jonathan Swan conducted a stunning interview with Trump that is gaining praise for getting around this problem. But the full import of how Swan did this, I think, is still eluding attention, and properly accounting for it exposes core truths about this extraordinary moment that we still struggle to find the right language to express.
Again and again, Swan practically pleaded with Trump to demonstrate a shred of basic humanity about the mounting toll under his presidency, and to display a glimmer of recognition of responsibility for it. Again and again, Trump failed this most basic test.
Trump Reveals Self-Delusion Over COVID Statistics in Mind-Blowing Argument With Reporter
(Daily Beast) …an astonishing interview clip from Axios appears to show that Trump has genuinely managed to convince himself that his response to the coronavirus pandemic has been effective—because he only considers partial and deceptively flattering statistics to be true. Brandishing childishly simplistic, brightly colored COVID-19 graphs presumably provided to him by aides trying to keep him happy, Trump proudly tells Axios’ Jonathan Swan that the U.S. is “lower than the world,” without elaborating
Watch the full “Axios on HBO” interview with President Trump

21 July
Fox News’s Chris Wallace just exposed Trump as very few have
(WaPo) One of the greatest frustrations President Trump’s foes have is how infrequently he’s called out — in person — on his bizarre theories and his 20,000 falsehoods and misleading claims. While journalists fact-check Trump relentlessly, there are relatively few instances in which he has received pushback to his face, in part because it takes a certain deftness and, arguably in even larger part, because he submits to so few interviews outside the Fox News and conservative media bubble. (There have been a handful of examples, including NBC’s Peter Alexander on multiple occasions.)
The president has for months lodged and repeated a series of false statistics and dodgy ideas about the coronavirus outbreak. And in a matter of minutes, Wallace cast a spotlight on almost all the big ones.
Trump pushed back on questions about the ballooning number of cases we face, as he often has, by wrongly suggesting that this was a matter of increased testing. Wallace noted that the rising test-positivity rate and the comparisons we see in most other countries — particularly Western Europe — show our situation is particularly bad.
The Futility of Journalists Interviewing Donald Trump
Everything he told Chris Wallace on Sunday was wrong—catastrophically wrong.
Donald Trump Is a Broken Man
In another time, in a different circumstance, there would perhaps be room to pity such a person.
(The Atlantic) The most revealing answer from Donald Trump’s interview with Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace came in response not to the toughest question posed by Wallace, but to the easiest.
Donald Trump is a psychologically broken, embittered, and deeply unhappy man. He is so gripped by his grievances, such a prisoner of his resentments, that even the most benevolent question from an interviewer—what good parts of your presidency would you like to be remembered for?—triggered a gusher of discontent.

15 July
Trump offers denial and delusion as pandemic crisis overtakes his presidency
(CNN) Trump struck all the wrong notes on Tuesday, as the US set yet another single day record for new coronavirus infections with 67,417. …but the President offered denial and delusion at a White House appearance that even by his standards was a rambling, grievance-fueled mess. … All Trump could offer on Tuesday was self-pity, incoherence and indifference. He came across as a leader living in a different dimension from his people and their fear and suffering and uncertainty about what the coming months will bring.

12 July
Trump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet
By Glenn C. Altschuler, opinion contributor
(The Hill) Less than four months before the presidential election, Team Trump seems dazed and confused. Held despite warnings from public health officials, the big rally in Tulsa, Okla., was poorly attended. Concerns over turnout factored into canceling a rally in New Hampshire. Revelations that White House staff, Secret Service personnel and members of the president’s entourage who attended recent events tested positive for COVID-19 embarrassed the administration. Most important, Team Trump’s response to this summer’s surge in coronavirus cases and the protests following the killing of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks by police officers has been inconsistent and incoherent.

11-12 July
What Trump Wants From Roger Stone
The president needs political help, and who better to give it than his political guru of many decades?
Trump commutes sentence of confidant Roger Stone who was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering
President Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime confidant Roger Stone on Friday, using the extensive powers of the presidency to protect a felon and political ally while also lashing out against a years-long probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election. The move, which the White House announced in a lengthy and pugnacious statement, is the latest attempt by Trump to discredit special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation after it consumed much of his presidency.
Among those who have received pardons or commutations from Trump are disgraced politician Rod R. Blagojevich, convicted junk bond king Michael Milken, former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right-wing provocateur Dinesh D’Souza and former Army officer Clint Lorance, who was convicted of second-degree murder in 2013 for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three men in Afghanistan.
Robert Mueller: Roger Stone remains a convicted felon, and rightly so
The jury ultimately convicted Stone of obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness. Because his sentence has been commuted, he will not go to prison. But his conviction stands.

6 July
Max Boot: What if Trump loses but insists he won?
It’s doubtful that anything Trump does will produce a popular-vote victory; he lost by nearly 3 million votes in 2016 and will probably lose by a greater margin this year. But it won’t matter if, by election night, he is within spitting distance of an electoral college victory.
I recently took part in a “war game” to see what would happen under those circumstances. The scenario we were given predicted a narrow Biden victory in the electoral college: 278 to 260. Various participants played the role of the Trump campaign, the Biden campaign, Republican and Democratic elected officials, the news media, and other key players to see what would happen next.
I was on Team Trump and, needless to say, we did not concede defeat.

3-4 July
At Mt. Rushmore and the White House, Trump Updates ‘American Carnage’ Message for 2020
His ominous remarks were a reflection of his political standing: trailing in the polls, lacking a booming economy or a positive message to campaign on, and leaning on culture wars to buoy his loyalists.
President Trump used the spotlight of the Fourth of July weekend to sow division during a national crisis, denying his failings in containing the worsening coronavirus pandemic while delivering a harsh diatribe against what he branded the “new far-left fascism.”
In a speech at the White House on Saturday evening and an address in front of Mount Rushmore on Friday night, Mr. Trump promoted a version of the “American carnage” vision for the country that he laid out during his inaugural address — updated to include an ominous depiction of the recent protests over racial justice.
Trump Uses Mount Rushmore Speech to Deliver Divisive Culture War Message
Down in the polls and failing to control a raging pandemic, the president cast himself as waging battle against a “new far-left fascism” that imperils American values and seeks to erase history.
(NYT) Standing in a packed amphitheater in front of Mount Rushmore for an Independence Day celebration, President Trump delivered a dark and divisive speech on Friday that cast his struggling effort to win a second term as a battle against a “new far-left fascism” seeking to wipe out the nation’s values and history.
With the coronavirus pandemic raging and his campaign faltering in the polls, his appearance amounted to a fiery reboot of his re-election effort, using the holiday and an official presidential address to mount a full-on culture war against a straw-man version of the left that he portrayed as inciting mayhem and moving the country toward totalitarianism.
“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children,” Mr. Trump said, addressing a packed crowd of sign-waving supporters, few of whom wore masks

2 July
Trump’s ‘I alone can fix it’ campaign collides with a changed public mood
President Trump will celebrate American independence Friday in his signature self-aggrandizing style, staging a fireworks show that frames him before a granite mountain carved with four of the nation’s most celebrated presidents.
But Democrats are hoping that the latest display of self-flattery by Trump at Mount Rushmore will have a different effect than similar efforts in the past, following a shift in public sentiment that suggests the 2020 presidential race is being fought on different terrain than Trump’s first campaign for the White House.
About 7,500 guests are expected to gather to see Trump. In keeping with the president’s preferences, the rally will occur without any mandates from South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) to socially distance or wear masks, despite federal health guidelines that suggest them and overwhelming public opinion against such events. A recent Fox News poll found eight in ten Americans favored mask wearers and less than one in four thought it was a good idea for presidential candidates to hold large political events or rallies right now.
This contradiction has become a central target for former vice president Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, which has been drawing on Democratic polling and focus groups that find enormous new vulnerabilities for Trump that have contributed to his recent slide in the polls.

29 June – 1 July
Frank Bruni: Is Trump Toast?
There’s a persuasive argument that the 2020 election is already over
Only two of the past six presidents before Donald Trump lost their bids for re-election. That’s good news for him. …
But their stories are bad news for him, too.
According to Gallup’s ongoing tracking of the percentage of Americans who approve of a president’s job performance, Carter’s and Bush’s numbers sank below 40 percent during this period and pretty much stayed there through Election Day. It’s as if they both met their fates on the cusp of summer.
And the cusp of summer has been a mean season for Trump, who has never flailed more pathetically or lashed out more desperately and who just experienced the Carter-Bush dip. According to Gallup, his approval rating fell to 39 percent in early June from 49 a month earlier. So if Carter and Bush are harbingers, Trump is toast.
Trump’s own national security picks now believe him ‘delusional’ and ‘a danger to’ the United States
(Daily Kos) The news that seemingly all of Trump’s most celebrated national security officials believed him to be “delusional” and a “danger to the national security of the United States” based on his behavior, and cite his “unfitness” for the presidency “on grounds of temperament and incompetence,” is shocking. Not because they believe so: Each of these conclusions can be reached from Trump’s own bizarre public behaviors. But because each one of these top officials believes Trump to pose a danger to the nation and has done absolutely nothing about it.
It is impossible to immediately imagine what sort of congressional investigation would even be appropriate here. Numerous national security officials believe Trump to be “delusional” and unfit for office, based on recordings that are no doubt tucked away on the White House’s classified server, but also in recordings kept by each of those other nations, as well. Insanity.
Harsh book about Trump family by president’s niece can be published, judge rules
Mary Trump’s book about her uncle, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” is set to hit shelves July 28.

28 June
Trump’s Napalm Politics? They Began With Newt
By Jennifer Senior
Gingrich wrote the playbook for it all. The nastiness, the contempt for norms, the transformation of political opponents into enemies.
(NYT) Gingrich despised the mainstream press, breaking with tradition and giving valuable real estate over in the Capitol to conservative, nativist-populist radio hosts who spoke loudly and carried a big schtick, just as Trump gives coveted space to the servile One America News Network.
Like Trump, Gingrich was a thrice-married womanizer who’d somehow seduced the evangelicals. He too had a skyscraping ego, nursed grudges as if they were newborns, and lacked impulse control.
Gingrich turned the politics of white racial grievance into an art form. They may have started with Nixon’s Southern Strategy, but Gingrich actually came from the South. He intuited the backlash to globalization, to affirmation action….

27 June
Trump admits it: He’s losing
Amid a mountain of bad polling and stark warnings from allies, the president has acknowledged his reelection woes to allies.
Donald Trump knows he’s losing.
(Politico) The president has privately come to that grim realization in recent days, multiple people close to him told POLITICO, amid a mountain of bad polling and warnings from some of his staunchest allies that he’s on course to be a one-term president.
What should have been an easy interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday horrified advisers when Trump offered a rambling, non-responsive answer to a simple question about his goals for a second term. In the same appearance, the normally self-assured president offered a tacit acknowledgment that he might lose when he said that Joe Biden is “gonna be your president because some people don’t love me, maybe.”
Trump has time to rebound, and the political environment could improve for him. But interviews with more than a half-dozen people close to the president depicted a reelection effort badly in need of direction — and an unfocused candidate who repeatedly undermines himself.

26 June
David Brooks: America Is Facing 5 Epic Crises All at Once
This is not the time to obsess about symbolism.
There are five gigantic changes happening in America right now. The first is that we are losing the fight against Covid-19.
Second, all Americans, but especially white Americans, are undergoing a rapid education on the burdens African-Americans carry every day. This education is continuing, but already public opinion is shifting with astonishing speed.
Third, we’re in the middle of a political realignment. The American public is vehemently rejecting Donald Trump’s Republican Party. The most telling sign is that the party has even given up on itself, a personality cult whose cult leader is over.
Fourth, a quasi-religion is seeking control of America’s cultural institutions. The acolytes of this quasi-religion, Social Justice, hew to a simplifying ideology: History is essentially a power struggle between groups, some of which are oppressors and others of which are oppressed. Viewpoints are not explorations of truth; they are weapons that dominant groups use to maintain their place in the power structure. Words can thus be a form of violence that has to be regulated.
Fifth, we could be on the verge of a prolonged economic depression.
I know a lot of people aren’t excited about him, but I thank God that Joe Biden is going to be nominated by the Democratic Party. He came to public life when it wasn’t about performing your zeal, it was about crafting coalitions and legislating. He exudes a spirit that is about empathy and friendship not animosity and canceling. The pragmatic spirit of the New Deal is a more apt guide for the years ahead than the spirit of critical theory symbology.
Scarborough Suggests Trump is Tanking on Purpose: Looks Like a ‘Deliberate Attempt to Drive His Campaign Into the Ground’
“This guy that you and I have known for many years, not only is he not acting like he doesn’t want to get re-elected, he’s acting like he really wants to lose badly and take the Republican party down with him,” Scarborough said.
The Morning Joe host conceded that the theory is far-fetched, but said he cannot come up with another reason why the president is taking so many unpopular positions.
James Carville: Trump has ‘zero chance’ of being re-elected,’ more likely not to run at all
“There is no chance he’s gonna be re-elected,” Carville said
Mary Trump once stood up to her uncle Donald – now her book describes a ‘nightmare’ of family dysfunction
Trump’s Brother Is Trying to Block Mary’s Tell-All: Donald Trump’s brother Robert Trump has gotten a restraining order against his niece Mary Trump to try to block her tell-all book ‘Too Much and Never Enough.’

24 June
Donald Trump Will Load Family On Private Jet And Disappear, Predicts Former ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ Insider
There’s a lot going on right now in Donald Trump’s life. The House Judiciary Committee has started discussing whether the Justice Department has become politicized under Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr. The pandemic hasn’t stopped, despite Trump telling his officials to slow testing. Then, on Wednesday, Real Clear Politics reports that polls are showing Biden beating Trump by several points. Of the polls averaged, the one that shows the least lead for Biden is an Emerson poll in which he still leads Trump by six points.
Casler isn’t the only one, or even the first, who is or has been in the Trump circle to say that the president is looking for an escape. Last week, the New York Times reported that aides to the president are saying the same thing. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, multiple aides said that the president’s demeanor has shifted, and he’s acting as though he’s trapped and looking for a way out.

17 June
Does Trump Want to Fight for a Second Term? His Self-Sabotage Worries Aides
Advisers and allies say the president’s repeated acts of self-destruction have significantly damaged his re-election prospects, and yet he appears mostly unable, or unwilling, to curtail them.

5 June
George T. Conway III: Trump’s soulless nature has done the nation incalculable harm
Until three brief months ago, President Trump never faced a serious crisis, at least one not of his own making. But now he has faced two, and is failing two, in short order: the covid-19 pandemic, with its concomitant economic devastation; and now social unrest, and rioting, stemming from the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Lacking in humanity, Trump has had no idea how to handle either one. He has responded to the police-brutality protests only by making matters worse. Faced with circumstances warranting calls for calm and restraint, he answered with almost sadistic invitations for more violence, fulminating about “THUGS” and extrajudicially “shooting” looters, issuing threats about “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons,” and celebrating “Domination” and “Overwhelming force.”
Tweeting about “LAW AND ORDER!” and “Anarchists,” and ignoring the distinction between peaceful, aggrieved citizens and the relatively few lawbreakers among them, Trump castigated governors in a phone call as “weak,” effectively upbraiding them for not spraying more fuel on the fire. And then, after he was wounded by mockery about having been hustled to a White House bunker as protests mounted, his administration used chemicals and projectile munitions to disperse peaceful demonstrators so that this morally deficient, scripturally ignorant payer-off-of-porn-stars could awkwardly pose with a borrowed Bible as a stalwart defender of public order and Christian values in front of a Lafayette Square church

4 June
We’ve now entered the final phase of the Trump era
Editor’s Note: President Trump is stuck in a vicious downward spiral. The worst possible crisis arrived in COVID-19, one that tugged at every weakness of the president and the nation. After three chaotic years, we have finally arrived at the final phase of the Trump era, the long-feared crisis and unraveling, argues Thomas Wright. This piece originally appeared in The Atlantic.
(Brookings) We are in the Götterdämmerung now, the final phase of the Trump era. We began with the axis of adults that imperfectly constrained him. We then entered the age of hubris and action during which he systematically rid himself of the adults and was free to follow his whims. The third phase was the reckoning as he began to bump up against the contradictions of his own approach, on China and Iran in particular. Now we have finally arrived at the long-feared crisis and unraveling.
… Trump is stuck in a vicious downward spiral. He is incapable of undertaking the policies necessary to address any of these three crises, so he grasps for actions that shock the senses—accusing journalists of murder, pulling out of the World Health Organization, trying to prosecute Obama-administration officials. These actions simply make matters worse, but he still doubles down again and again.
… There is no way back from the Götterdämmerung in the remainder of the Trump era. The question facing responsible senior administration officials (there are several at the principal and deputy level), Republicans in Congress, and allied governments is not how to persuade Trump to do the right thing, but how to limit the damage so the government can be repaired after he is gone. This may mean not urging Trump to take action on crises even if it is merited; circumventing the president wherever possible; Republican governors declaring their independence from their party leader, trying to craft a bipartisan approach in Congress on foreign-policy issues such as competing with China in international institutions and protecting against Russian interference; and using distractions of their own to divert his attention from truly consequential decisions. Call it fortification—of constitutional democracy and America’s international interests. There are 231 long days with nothing but stormy weather left.

Since the Paul Waldman piece below, Trump has embarked on ever-wilder ventures
29-30 May
Trump says protesters would have met ‘vicious dogs’ if White House fence breached
(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday said demonstrators protesting the death of a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck would have been “greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.”

With ‘shooting’ tweet, Trump inflames rather than soothes tensions amid Minneapolis unrest
(WaPo) In a pair of tweets sent at 12:53 a.m. Friday, Trump threatened to deploy the National Guard to use lethal force against demonstrators he denigrated as “THUGS.” His ominous warning — “when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” — was flagged by Twitter as a violation of the social media platform’s rule against glorifying violence.

Tony Schwartz: The Psychopath in Chief
I spent hundreds of hours with Donald Trump to ghost-write ‘The Art of the Deal.’ I now see a deeper meaning behind his behavior.
(Medium) How do we deal with a person whose core impulse in every part of his life is to deny, deceive, deflect, disparage, and double-down every time he is challenged? And what precisely is the danger such a person poses if he also happens to be the leader of the free world, during a crisis in which thousands of people are dying every day, with no letup in sight?
The first answer is that we must understand exactly who we’re dealing with, and we have not, because what motivates Trump’s behavior is so far from our own inner experience that it leaves us feeling forever flummoxed.

25 May
Paul Waldman: Can we stop pretending Trump is fit to be president?
In the future, when we look back on this dark period, we should resist the temptation to focus solely on Trump himself. To do so would be to excuse those who know exactly what he is but pretend they can work to keep him in office and remain unsullied. They cannot, and their moral culpability becomes clearer every day.
Let’s review what our president has been up to in the past few days:

  • With the death toll from covid-19 about to top 100,000, Trump has offered almost nothing in the way of tributes to the dead, sympathy for their families, or acknowledgement of our national mourning. By all accounts he is barely bothering to manage his administration’s response to the pandemic, preferring to focus on cheerleading for an economic recovery he says is on its way, even as he feeds conspiracy theories about the death toll being inflated. This weekend, he went golfing.
  • In a Twitter spasm on Saturday and Sunday, Trump retweeted mockery of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’s weight and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) looks, along with a tweet calling Hillary Clinton a “skank.”
  • Eager to start a new culture war flare-up, he urged churches to open and gather parishioners in a room to breathe the same air, threatening that he would “override” governors whose shutdown orders still forbade such gatherings. The president has no such power.
  • He all but accused talk show host Joe Scarborough of murdering a young woman who died in 2001 in the then-congressman’s district office, bringing untold torture to her family from the conspiracy theorists who will respond to his accusation.
  • He has repeatedly insisted that the upcoming election is being “rigged” because states run by both Republicans and Democrats are making it easier to vote by mail, seeking to delegitimize a vote that has yet to occur, despite the substantial evidence that mail voting advantages neither party.

20 May
Trump Is Failing at Governing But Winning at Authoritarianism
By Jonathan Chait
Ross Douthat has been one of the most effective and articulate critics of those warnings. Douthat’s Trump is little more than a clown, who may dream of the jackboot but who has been reduced instead to ineffectually stamping his loafers. Douthat’s latest column, “Donald Trump Doesn’t Want Authority,” oversimplifies his thesis only slightly. While acknowledging that Trump’s misgoverning has had tragic effects, he reiterates his portrayal of a president too hapless to do any real damage to the democratic system.
Douthat has one point. Even a reasonably effective leader of Trump’s authoritarian bent could have exploited this crisis more effectively. The pandemic produced a worldwide upsurge in trust for leaders — in almost every state, governors have enjoyed soaring approval ratings, as have leaders across the globe, some of them inept. Only Trump’s ineptitude was so obvious, playing out in buffoonish daily briefings, that he was denied the upsurge that almost every other leader enjoyed. Even a barely competent version of Trump would now be sitting on a commanding lead.

16 – 17 May
Obama Lives in Trump’s Head
The president feels the need to shower lies and blame upon his predecessor.
‘It eats him alive inside’: Trump’s latest attack shows endless obsession with Obama
The president seems more interested in blaming his predecessor than tackling the coronavirus – so what’s driving Trump’s fixation?
by David Smith
(The Guardian) … Obama remains something of an obsession for Trump; the subject of a political and personal inferiority complex. Observers point to a mix of anti-intellectualism, racism, vengeance and primitive envy over everything from Obama’s Nobel peace prize to the scale of his inauguration crowd and social media following.
Ben Rhodes, a former Obama national security aide, tweeted this week: “Trump’s fact-free fixation on Obama dating back to birtherism is so absurd and stupid that it would be comic if it wasn’t so tragic.”
Nine years later, he has come full circle with “Obamagate”, which accuses his predecessor of working in league with the “deep state” to frame Trump for colluding with Russia to win the 2016 election.
… Beyond political expediency, there is a more profound antipathy at work. From the Iran nuclear deal to the Trans Pacific Partnership, from environmental regulations to the Affordable Care Act, Trump has always seemed to be on a mission to erase his predecessor’s legacy. With few deep convictions of his own, Trump found a negative reference point in Obama. Between 22 November 2010 and 14 May 2020, he tweeted about Obama 2,933 times, according to the Trump Twitter Archive.
Alexandra Petri: Obamagate was the worst crime ever committed and here is what it was (13 May)

12-13 May
Trump Is Losing the Battle to Keep His Finances Secret
The Supreme Court case over releasing Trump’s tax returns is not looking good for the president.
(Vice) …a lot of lawyers who follow the high court closely think President Trump will end up watching his most secret financial records finally slip from his grasp after the Supreme Court returns a decision early this summer.
Trump’s Lawyers Just Told the Supreme Court That He’s Completely Above Criminal Law
“The president is not to be treated as an ordinary citizen,” Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow said.

2 May
Michael Lewis: ‘Trump is like a psycho dad to America’
The uncannily prescient author of Moneyball explains how Trump’s ‘appallingly bad’ handling of the coronavirus outbreak could finally undo him
(The Guardian) … Trump’s newfound support for science is not an obvious improvement on his previous hostility. After all, the cause of empirical research was hardly advanced by his suggestion that injecting disinfectant could be the answer to the pathogen.
Lewis concedes the point, yet sees signs that Trump, or those around him, are trying to scramble together a functioning operation to deal with the pandemic, if only because there is now no alternative.
… The problem for Trump, whose speciality is presidential edict by tweet, is that he’s never had much respect for policy and planning. The degradation of federal planning and infrastructure is not a new development. It extends back to Ronald Reagan’s day, but Trump has rapidly accelerated the process.
… But being forced in the direction he never wanted to go is not a role that a man of Trump’s outsized ego will readily accept. He knows that if he is to avoid being the Neville Chamberlain of the pandemic, he has to wrest control of the narrative.
To that end, he has directed fire at China (which does, indeed, have questions to answer) and dog-whistled the growing libertarian revolt. Ultimately, however, he will be judged on the numbers. Not of his favoured Dow Jones index – though that doesn’t look great at the moment – but of the death count of Americans.

1 May
Trump values pomp more than the lives of the cadets he’s dragging back to West Point
The decision to go ahead with ceremonies at West Point, pushed back from the original date of May 23, means the recall of 1,000 cadets who are scattered across the country. They will travel into airports in New York and New Jersey, states that have been hit hard by the pandemic, to a location that is 50 miles north of the pandemic’s epicenter in New York City. They will have to undergo testing and face up to three weeks of quarantine in campus barracks, perhaps one person to a room. Partial audio recording obtained by The Post of a video call made by a West Point instructor to a group of 25 cadets April 21, four days after Mr. Trump announced his plans, has raised concerns because of the instructor’s estimate that as many as 60 percent of the class might have the coronavirus, and the uncertainties that still surround this disease and the reliability of testing. Military officials insist they can safely hold the graduation, making the feeble argument that cadets would have had to return to pick up their belongings and get future orders.

29 April
Trump Reportedly Threatened to Sue Campaign Manager Over Low Poll Numbers
By Jonathan Chait
The polls were used to try to persuade Trump to scale back his daily televised rants. Trump pushed back, according to the Post, insisting people “love” his appearances and believe the harangues show he is “fighting for them.”
The meeting in which Trump insisted his briefings are a political benefit occurred before he went out and tried to brainstorm juvenile remedies for the coronavirus.

27 April
David Frum: The Very Real Threat of Trump’s Deepfake
The president’s first use of a manipulated video of his opponent is a test of the boundaries.
When people began talking about the political implications of deepfake technology—manipulating a video to transpose one person’s face on another’s body—they usually assumed that deepfakery would be deployed by some anonymous, hostile non-state actor, as a no-return-address, high-tech sabotage of democracy. Who imagined that the return address would be 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

25 April
Debacle of Trump’s coronavirus disinfectant comments could be tipping point
The US president plans to ‘pare back’ his daily coronavirus briefings after falsely claiming his suggestion to inject cleaning products had been ‘sarcastic’
White House coronavirus taskforce briefings are often two-hour primetime marathons but on Friday Trump turned on his heel as reporters shouted questions in vain. Perhaps it was a fit of pique, or perhaps revenge on the reporters that he sees as persecutors. He may also have reached a tipping point, with his own advisers warning that the televised briefings are hurting him far more than they help.

19 April
Trump said China may have started the coronavirus deliberately, as top advisers claim attacking Beijing may be the best way for the president to save his job
Trump’s approach to China has veered between blaming it for the coronavirus outbreak and seeking to strike a more conciliatory tone.
Top Republicans though, believe that Trump’s best path to victory in November’s presidential election is to take a tough line against China and cast Beijing as “the bogeyman.”
Bluster, distraction, denial: Trump follows Chavez’s successful template
Coronavirus could be Trump’s downfall – but another bullying leader reminiscent of Trump won election after election
Rory Carroll
(The Guardian) Donald Trump’s handling of coronavirus appears to be not so much a car wreck as a multiple pile-up, one vehicle slamming into another in a mound of twisted metal.
First denial and complacency that left hospitals and laboratories unprepared, then shouting matches with governors and the media, then peddling a dodgy remedy and conspiracy theories, and now scapegoating the World Health Organization. With November’s election approaching, Covid-19 may end up engraved on Trump’s political tombstone.
Or not. I’ve seen a version of this movie before and at the end the president wins. His name was Hugo Chavez.

17 April
Trump Encourages Protest Against Governors Who Have Imposed Virus Restrictions
The president’s stark departure from his message on Thursday night, when he announced guidelines for governors to reopen their states and said they would “call your own shots,” suggested he was ceding any semblance of national leadership on the pandemic.
Mr. Trump’s call for liberation from social distancing rules followed protests around the country as protesters — many wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats — congregated in packed groups around state capitols to demand that restrictions be immediately lifted and to demonize their Democratic governors.
Studying Fascist Propaganda by Day, Watching Trump’s Coronavirus Updates by Night
Responding to the coronavirus, Donald Trump is “acting the way strongmen always act in a time of crisis,” the philosophy professor Jason Stanley says.

9 April
Trump Keeps Talking. Some Republicans Don’t Like What They’re Hearing.
Aides and allies increasingly believe the president’s daily briefings are hurting him more than helping, and are urging him to let his medical experts take center stage.
In his daily briefings on the coronavirus, President Trump has brandished all the familiar tools in his rhetorical arsenal: belittling Democratic governors, demonizing the media, trading in innuendo and bulldozing over the guidance of experts.
It’s the kind of performance the president relishes, but one that has his advisers and Republican allies worried.
As unemployment soars and the death toll skyrockets, and new polls show support for the president’s handling of the crisis sagging, White House allies and Republican lawmakers increasingly believe the briefings are hurting the president more than helping him.

30 March
President Trump’s Prime-Time Pandemic
Mr. Trump became a prime-time star through TV, a political figure through TV and a president through TV. But he has not, as president, had what he had with NBC’s “The Apprentice”: a regular TV show in which he plays an executive in control.
Now, the coronavirus briefings have given him a new, live and unfiltered daily platform before a captive national audience. True to his résumé, he has conducted them as a kind of reality TV, or rather, create-your-own-reality TV.
In its short life, for all its dead-serious subject matter, the program has developed the structure, rhythm and characters of a weekly reality show.
There’s drama and intrigue, such as the reports that the president might be at odds with staffers like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. There’s the appearance of the protagonist, Mr. Trump, flanked by lieutenants, to announce the day’s topics and story lines.
And there’s the concluding “Apprentice” boardroom-style conflict in the Q. and A. session, in which friendly journalists are praised, and those who ask questions he doesn’t want to answer are “terrible.” After which Mr. Trump leaves the set and his public-health officials climb into the producer’s chair to edit his comments and their own often diverging guidance into a cohesive narrative.

28 March
Alexander Panetta: Trump is more popular than ever, but there’s more to the story
4 takeaways from a mid-crisis polling spike for the U.S. president
(CBC) Leaders poll well in a crisis.
Leaders are getting strong public support in this crisis — it’s happening throughout the U.S., and in lots of other places.
Look at the results from one Fox News poll. It asked respondents to rank the performance of various figures in the U.S. Everyone got good marks — and everyone else polled better than Trump.
Seventy-seven per cent approved of the job done by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health; local officials got 75 per cent; state governments 74 per cent; Vice-President Mike Pence 55 per cent; and Trump 51 per cent.
NYT: Who Are the Voters Behind Trump’s Higher Approval Rating? – While public perceptions are fluid in a crisis, a notable twist in polling at this point is that independents are driving Mr. Trump’s bump in approval, and some increased Democratic support is a factor as well. Polling experts said that it was normal for the country to rally around a president during a national crisis, and that Mr. Trump’s dominance of the airwaves alone was enough to sway a slice of voters who don’t normally tune in to politics.

27 March
Trump warns governors to be ‘appreciative’
(AP) — After days of pleading from the nation’s governors, President Donald Trump took steps Friday to expand the federal government’s role in helping produce critically needed supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Yet the president rejected any criticism for the federal government’s response to a ballooning public health crisis that a month ago he predicted would be over by now.
One month after predicting the U.S. was days away from being “close to zero” coronavirus cases, Trump in recent days had increasingly tried to shift the blame to state and local leaders as the spread tops more than 100,000 cases nationwide.
He lashed out at governors, continued to diminish the risk posed by the virus and insisted that the federal government was only a “backup” as he looked to avoid political costs from a pandemic that has reshaped his presidency and tested his reelection plans.

20 March
Frank Rich: Trump Lies His Way Through a Pandemic
(New York) Right now the country is waiting for a bomb to drop: that much-predicted turning point when the metastasis of illness and mass death in the U.S. could match the curve we’ve seen in Italy. Trump’s nonstop lies — and those of toadies like Pence — are not just intended to cover up the many failures to prepare for the looming apocalypse (“I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic”), or to blame those failures on China and Obama, or to luxuriate in unearned self-congratulation (“I’d rate it a 10”). What the lies are doing now is throwing gasoline on the gathering fire. Why in heaven’s name would Trump, having previously lied about the fast arrival of a vaccine, now tell anxious and desperate Americans two days in a row that unproven and unapproved drugs for malaria and arthritis might rapidly be a “game changer” for treating the coronavirus? Why would Pence, having previously made up fictitious numbers for the amount of tests available, now promise millions of hospital masks even as hospitals from Washington to Washington, D.C., say they will have to reuse masks because of the shortage and the government’s own Centers for Disease Control is suggesting that under-equipped hospitals use bandanas instead? Why does a president cite the Defense Protection Act, which allows him to commandeer industry to produce emergency supplies, while simultaneously telling the states to find much-needed ventilators on their own?
25 February
Trump Demands 2 Liberal Justices Recuse Themselves From His Cases
The president ratcheted up a fight with a judicial system he sees as biased against him.
Proof of the validity of the article below.
President Trump Has Never Been More Dangerous Than He Is Now
(New York) Taken together, Trump’s escalating authoritarianism and rising popularity make the present moment the most harrowing of his presidency thus far. With the anticlimactic end of the Mueller investigation, Trump learned that federal law enforcement cannot (or will not) hold him accountable for abuses of power. With his Senate acquittal, he secured confirmation that Congress won’t either. Now, the small but electorally decisive fragment of the American electorate that isn’t tightly wedded to either party is signaling to Trump that it won’t necessarily penalize his lawlessness either.
For much of the past five months, indisputable evidence of Trump’s illicit efforts to coerce a foreign power into aiding his reelection campaign have dominated the headlines. That Trump is willing to abuse the powers of his office to persecute his political rivals has been publicly affirmed by a wide variety of his own administration’s officials, and his own party’s members of Congress. And yet, his odds for reelection have steadily risen all the same. For America’s (largely) socially atomized and civically disengaged swing voters, Trump’s authoritarian power grabs and the criticism they inspire ostensibly register as little more than unusually heated partisan squabbles. Not entirely without reason, many have come to see cable news’ serial dramas as tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing terribly relevant to their own lives. They may have gathered that Trump is a bit of a crook, but then aren’t all politicians? And anyhow, why should they care more about sketchy schemes in Ukraine than all the “Help Wanted” signs out on Main Street — or Trump’s firing of Colonel Vindman more than the recent hiring of a friend or relative who’d been suffering from long-term unemployment?
Meanwhile, Trump’s post-impeachment polling bounce has cowed his congressional opposition into more accommodative posture. And, thanks to the onset of primary season, the president’s most engaged and ardent critics in civil society have been consumed with our own internal disagreements. These developments have further expanded Trump’s latitude for lawlessness. He has been taking full advantage.
Where all this leaves the (increasingly aptly named) “resistance” is debatable. But one thing seems clear: The quicker Democrats can resolve their primary, the sooner they can redirect media attention toward Trump’s lawlessness, and their own focus toward the task of ensuring the president pays a belated price for that lawlessness come November.

12 February
As Trump openly corrupts DOJ, a former insider sounds the alarm
(WaPo) President Trump is now openly flaunting his success in manipulating law enforcement for nakedly political and corrupt ends. With the Justice Department in turmoil over the decision by higher-ups to downscale a sentencing recommendation for longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, Trump tweeted:
“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!”
This is a straight-up celebration of the fact that in intervening for Stone — who was convicted of obstructing Congress and witness tampering in connection with investigations into Russian subversion of our election — Barr is doing the president’s political bidding.

10 February
Unhinged Donald Trump poses a threat to the US republic
Asher Edelman, Investor and Art Collector
The Financial Times editorial “Without Fear and Without Favour”, a well reasoned, articulate analysis of Trump’s celebration of his acquittal whereby he targeted “the liars” “human scum” “leakers” “corrupt cops” “evil on his presidency” and other verbiage towards the prosecution of his high crimes, misdemeanors and treason, has, in its well reasoned low key way, overlooked some frightening issues.
Trump’s behavior is without question an example of mental illness – out of control. I would like to believe he skipped his meds that morning but I fear he has crossed the line of psychosis; at least the rout was, indeed, an example of psychotic behavior.
Trump will not go away gently should he lose the election – should there be an election?
the Editorial Board, Financial Times:
Hell hath no fury like an acquitted Donald Trump. Another US president might have used this week’s reprieve to express some contrition for his excesses, or to call for national healing. Yet it is hard to imagine any of his predecessors — even Richard Nixon — soliciting foreign interference in an upcoming presidential election.
Mr Trump instead staged a White House celebration in which he targeted the “liars”, “human scum”, “leakers” and “corrupt cops” who had perpetrated this “evil” on his presidency. “It was all bullshit,” he said. In an epic of unchained venting, Mr Trump suggested he could be entering an even more worrying phase of his presidency. Having secured fealty from 52 of 53 Senate Republicans — with Utah’s Mitt Romney as the lone profile in courage — Mr Trump is now free to pursue vengeance on those who impeached him.

5 February
State of the Union: A preview of Trump’s reelection strategy
Instead of focusing on partisan attacks and Democrats’ efforts to impeach him, President Trump used his third State of the Union address to highlight his administration’s accomplishments and extend an olive branch to prospective voters. William Galston says this strategy represents Trump’s best chance to broaden his appeal and win reelection.
(Brookings) All in all, President Trump’s speech represented the case he intends to take to the American people in his re-election campaign. By not mentioning Democrats’ efforts to impeach and remove him from office, by minimizing partisan jabs and focusing on proposals that could command support across partisan, class, and ethnic lines, he tried to take the edge off what has been a combative presidency and present himself as a leader who cares about all Americans, not just the base he has tended so assiduously during the first three years of his presidency.

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