“Let them eat cake,” has resounded through the centuries as the casually cruel comment of a clueless elite leader, totally out of touch with her people or their real world struggles. Donald Trump basically one upped Marie Antoinette the night of the first presidential debate, when he mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask, and then came down with the coronavirus a day later — and hid the fact. His cavalier and unconcerned attitude towards a malady which has claimed 210,000 American lives and is getting ready for a stage two surge, repulsed a lot of Americans. Their revulsion was demonstrated amply the next day when Trump’s polls plummeted, particularly in critical swing states.
But the debate was intriguing for other reasons, because in so many ways it showed not only how divorced from reality Trump is but divorced from common humanity as well. When he wasn’t mocking Biden’s mask he was attacking his children — and in doing so, “reimagined his protean repulsiveness as riveting dominance.” And his fluffers pandered to that delusion as well. Hugh Hewitt termed Trump’s performance that of an “apex predator” rather than the grotesque, classless half wit the rest of us saw.
The message that came across loud and clear is that Trump is fiercely committed to redoing his 2016 playbook, in the face of all sanity and logic. This has been apparent, as well as astonishing, for quite some time. He’s the incumbent. He doesn’t seem to know that that puts the election on an entirely different footing. He never tried to expand his appeal beyond his base and now he’s lost some of the people who put him in office, because they’ve realized, to their horror, what a fraud he is. He’s not only not the big shot billionaire that was going to run the country like a successful business — he’s pathetic and he’s broke. Richard North Patterson, the Bulwark:
In truth, Trump is America’s ersatz Wizard of Oz—a one-trick faux populist with deep but finite appeal who, in 2016, filled the mother of inside straights. By 2018, he had squandered his winnings. In 2020, he’s become the little man behind the curtain, brutally exposed by his own incompetence and instability.
Forget the first three-and-two-third years of self-aggrandizing incompetence. Just take the last three weeks—during which Trump has demonstrated the survival instincts of Jim Jones in his final hour at Jonestown. He is committing electoral suicide, and taking his party with him.
We remember Jonestown and the kool-aide, similarly history will remember Trump world and the COVID.
By a margin of three to one, Americans believe that Trump should prioritize coronavirus relief over bulldozing Barrett’s confirmation. In his solitary grandeur, Trump believes otherwise. Endangered Republican senatorial and congressional candidates, murmuring feeble dissents, are perceiving too late that Trump’s Kool-Aid is poisoned.
Its most deadly ingredient is COVID-19. Seven months ago, our ersatz wizard proclaimed that the virus would disappear—appropriately enough—“like a miracle.” As Trump availed himself of superb medical care, 21 states showed a rise in new cases—including the electorally critical states of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Nationwide hospitalizations rose for the first time since July. It is hardly a coincidence that among the most vulnerable Americans, seniors, Biden leads by more than 20 points. Trump may outlive the virus, but it is killing his campaign.
Our other one term presidents have found themselves at the hands of forces beyond their control and larger than themselves. In Trump’s case, his destruction is entirely of his own doing. George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter went on to do meaningful things after the presidency and were respected as statesmen. Trump is likely to go to prison.
Given Trump’s burgeoning plague of political locusts, the revelation of his tax records last week seems to have occurred half a lifetime ago. But this particular mortification exposed that, as a businessman, Trump was less wizard than chiseler. He paid no federal income taxes in 11 of 18 years; took highly dubious write-offs to shelter his income; showed staggering business losses; and now faces hundreds of millions in loans which will shortly come due. […]
Trump was never a brilliant businessman—he was a sociopath who used bullying, bankruptcy, and branding to perpetuate a false image of success. As an entrepreneur, and as president, he now stands exposed as a narcissistic fraud.
After enduring four years of Trump, too many Americans see this too clearly. He has done that to himself, and it is lethal. Character is, after all, fate.
If Joe Biden can simply stay safe, you can stick a fork in the man behind the curtain.
This is today’s COVID Chronicle. 25 more days in this charade and then 78 until the inauguration. It ain’t over till it’s over.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.