Trump’s Trying On A Tried-And-True Tactic. But Will It Work This Time?

Returning from Camp David Sunday, calls Obama “grossly incompetent”

More than 1/2 the President’s weekend Tweets target Obama/Biden. Only 16% focus on Coronavirus response…

And we’re being very loose in what we’re considering a Coronavirus-focused Tweet: not only including ones where Trump cheers himself for his response, but also where he eggs on protestors (on land and on the sea), even in states that are not even close to meeting his own conditions for reopening.

And if Trump continues down this road, of course that will have to mean the actual health crisis is not as bad—never was as bad—as “science” (and the media, and Democrats) made it out to be. Never mind that countries (some with very divergent political systems) that snapped into action almost purely on the basis of the science of the situation, like South Korea, like Taiwan, like New Zealand, have had markedly fewer infections and deaths. Some close to none. Because U.S. deaths are now a moving target and can always be ratcheted up to a new acceptable level. Where the President’s always doing a “GREAT job”.

But for that messaging to work, Trump’s gotta hope fewer and fewer people are actually touched by the disease. And even then, everyone’s being touched by the economic fallout. So the distraction this time may not be as easy to pull off as it normally is for this President. He’s really going to have to go guns blazing for a while to get people focused on convoluted theories about the Obama administration.

Which is a risky bet: because even if U.S. cases are peaking now, or have peaked, that doesn’t mean the number of cases is going down. It just means the number of new cases isn’t going up as fast. Which also means deaths will continue to rise, even if at a slower pace, and will likely be close to equal the number we saw on the upward side of the curve.

But we’re also not sure it’s an impossible narrative for the President to sell.

We’ve been on the East Coast as  the pandemic has engulfed the nation. Not in New York, but Massachusetts, which is bad enough. We know a bunch of people who have gotten very sick (even some who pretty much never get sick), and tragically, some who have died (a former teacher, a guy we used to run into virtually every day when we walked the dog…)

But we wonder how different our mindset is to people in states where the pandemic has had much less of a fatal impact. (And even how different ours is to New York residents, who’ve had it much worse to this point).

We’ve talked to or heard from people in the past couple of weeks in other states who have gone in for surgery like it was normal, who are working at home or out of work, but running around from restaurant to restaurant every night, or giving daily status reports on neighborhood supermarkets, or proudly getting haircuts, as if spending that much time in public isn’t a big deal at all. And in those places, maybe it isn’t.

And in that context maybe Trump’s strategy could work. Even if the Obama conspiracy nonsense ultimately doesn’t. If people in many places are not touched by the disease in the sense of a friend or relative becoming horribly ill (even to let’s say to 3 degrees of separation), then most of what they see and feel is economic impact. Which can then be blamed by the President on Democrats not wanting Trump to win. (The genesis of which ties in to the Obama theories he’s spouting). On scientists deciding to have opinions that for whatever reason are “not acceptable.” Even in states with big hot spots, those have tended to be locations like meat packing plants or minority communities, so maybe that gets a lot of people feeling it’s not them. Except for the economic disaster part.

As we noted at the top, when Trump has Tweeted about Coronavirus of late, he’s mostly highlighted things like the video below from Long Island, New York, of a crowd of scantily-masked, not socially distanced, pro-Trump protestors harassing a local news reporter. He Tweeted this twice, in fact. And even if you agree with the protestors completely, and even if you share in aall their anger and frustration, they are not by any stretch of the imagination “Great people!”. They are being a*holes.

See for yourself:

And we seldom parse Trump’s Tweets anymore, but one of his earliest this weekend is just breathtaking in terms numbers of of lies and misdirection per word:

  • First of all, Trump told all the governors they were on their own. That’s his narrative. “We’re not a shipping clerk” he complained. Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor said the federal medical equipment stockpile was “our stockpile, it’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use”. So perhaps media “doesn’t want to go with that narrative” because it’s a totally made up narrative, and the total opposite of his old narrative.
  • “Dems talking point is to say only bad about ‘Trump'”. Yes. It’s a two-party system. Some things (like multi-trillion dollar bailouts) will be bipartisan. Some things won’t. Democrats are against the President, because they are literally running against the President. Because that’s the way the political system in this country works. It doesn’t mean they hate America, love death, etc.
  • “I make everybody look good, but me!” That’s like San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan whining that no one gives him credit for being outplayed in this year’s Super Bowl by the Kansas City Chiefs, and then not even getting any credit for making them “look good”.

All this against the backdrop of way more American deaths than the entire number of people in the stadium for that game, which Trump doesn’t mention at all.

Just one footnote today: In response to our story about how Biden needs a theme song, we got several lewd suggestions from some friends and followers who are clearly not fans of his. Which made us think of one for Trump: Garland Jeffreys’ “Wild in the Streets“:

Mrs. America, how’s your favorite son?

Do you care just what he’s done?”