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Trump has extended the range of what counts as having “done a good job” from 100k deaths to a range of 100-200k.
Through the course of the coronavirus crisis, Trump has demonstrated the adaptability that has so often helped his career in business and politics, as he shifted from predator developer to scammy brand-marketer to reality-TV celebrity. And one element of that flexibility is Trump’s unparalleled capacity to say whatever he needs at a given moment to gain an advantage or serve a personal interest.
This skill, if it can be called that, was on display at a recent Trump campaign rally, which these days are held daily in the White House, where Trump and members of his coronavirus task force brief reporters and the rest of the world. (Trump has been bragging about the ratings for these briefings, cheering his audience numbers, as Americans perish.) When Trump at this particular session on Sunday wasn’t bashing the media, belittling his perceived foes, or praising himself, he made a startling remark: “So you’re talking about 2.2 million deaths, 2.2 million people from this. And so if we could hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000. It’s a horrible number, maybe even less —but to 100,000. So we have between 100 and 200,000, and we altogether have done a very good job.”
Trump, who on February 26, when there were 15 reported coronavirus cases in the United States, said the number would soon be “down to close to zero,” was now tossing out a horrendous number. It was quite the turnaround—and very purposeful.
Now that Trump could no longer pitch himself as the beautiful-economy president, he recast himself as the great lifesaver of America. And he initiated a cynical and loathsome expectations game. If the coronavirus might kill 2.2. million, then what a hero he would be if it only claims the lives of 200,000 Americans. Should this come to pass, Trump will claim that 2 million Americans owe him their lives.
Trump the coronavirus savior—that’s his new role.
Ã¢ÂÂ Karen Piper (@PiperK) March 31, 2020
— Brandon Friedman (@BFriedmanDC) April 1, 2020
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) March 31, 2020
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 1, 2020
Because Trump believes that bringing back business tax deductions for food will bring back the economy.
And then there’s herd immunity:
— Phil Arballo (@PhilArballo2020) April 1, 2020