Fred Hiatt in WaPo speculates on why Trump is engaging in self-destructive behavior by inciting the defiance of isolation orders.
So here’s another theory.
Trump and his team realized weeks ago that he was losing to Joe Biden, badly. They began casting China as an enemy and, preposterously, Biden as a Communist sympathizer. They intensified their slanders of the presumptive Democratic nominee as doddering and (because he is following public health guidance) cowardly. They invented “Obamagate.”
I continue to doubt the implication of a certain influential parcel of the conventional wisdom that tens or hundreds of thousands of additional Americans dying would be good for Trump's re-election prospects. https://t.co/FuF7UksSfn— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) May 17, 2020
They will certainly continue these lines of attack. But they also realize there’s a good chance none of them will be sufficient if the economy continues to tank. So, against all common sense, Trump began agitating for the country to get back to work.
The strategy, at its most basic level, is to keep fingers crossed: hope businesses reopen but that a second wave does not materialize, at least until after the election.
If the wave does appear too soon — well, Trump was going to lose anyway, so no harm done, except to those who die needlessly and, more painfully for him, the margin of his defeat.
But he is also buying an insurance policy, laying the groundwork to blame anyone but himself if things do get worse in the fall. Since there is no national policy, he can blame the governors. Since they are not taking his advice on quack remedies, he can — and surely will — blame Anthony S. Fauci and his colleagues. These stratagems may sound implausible, but with Fox News dependably amplifying whatever scapegoat theories Trump settles on, they cannot be discounted.
Trump’s calculus, as always, is not about uniting the country or winning majority support. He simply wants to turn enough voters against the authorities in enough swing states to claw his way to a second term.
“the [‘16 swing state] polls undersold Trump by 2 points (RealClearPolitics) or 3 points (FiveThirtyEight). If the [‘20] polls in the competitive states were off by as much … Biden would still be ahead in states like Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania.” https://t.co/Df15l9qLOy— Bill Scher (@billscher) May 17, 2020
New study: Thousands of MAGA accounts are engaging in coordinated inauthentic activity, churning out hundreds of millions of retweets of @realDonaldTrump & other conservative accounts. https://t.co/KZojZs1wa0— Eli Clifton (@EliClifton) May 13, 2020