April 4, 2020
Off script, President Trump has numerous salient characteristics. He focuses on himself and what makes him look good. He attacks anyone who criticizes him, or is perceived to have done so. He blurts out whatever comes to mind, sometimes unintentionally telling an inconvenient truth. Finally, he isn’t bright, so doesn’t always realize the effect of what he says.
Mitch McConnell, ever eager to protect Trump, offered this excuse for his Leader’s inaction on the coronavirus outbreak: That issue "came up while we were, you know, tied down in the impeachment trial. And I think it diverted the attention of the government, because everything, every day, was all about impeachment,"25 Trump, displaying the first, third and fourth traits, destroyed McConnell’s excuse:
“Did it divert my attention? I think I’m getting A pluses for the way I handled myself during a phony impeachment. . . . I don’t think I would have done any better had I not been impeached, okay? And I think that’s a great tribute to something, maybe it’s a tribute to me, but I don’t think I would have acted any differently, or I don’t think I would have acted any faster. 26
I think that we can agree with that.
The third and fourth traits produced an accidental admission of GOP election strategy. Democrats proposed giving $4 billion to states to boost mail-in ballots, requiring states to send absentee ballots to every registered voter, requiring online and same-day voter registration, and expanding early voting by 15 days. Trump’s response: “The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you ever agreed to, you would never have a Republican elected in this country again.”27 Yes, making voting difficult is a core Republican strategy; thanks for making that clear.
The first and second were on display in one of his rants about Governors who don’t praise him. “I don’t have to call” them, he said; “I get Mike Pence to call. I get the head of FEMA to call. I get the admiral to call.” Why doesn’t he talk to Governors? “Because when they disrespect me, they’re disrespecting our government.”28 It’s tempting to add L’état c’est moi. A more original and more apt comment on his boast is a cartoon by Ann Telnaes in The Washington Post showing Trump as Mussolini with the caption “Il Donald.” A populist buffoon is a better subject for comparison than the Sun King.
25. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/04/01/mcconnell-draws-outrage-ridiculous-excuse- trump- impeachment-trial-prevented-action
26. https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump-response-coronavirus-not-better-without-impeachment- mcconnell