It’s almost impossible to overstate what an sociopathic narcissist Donald Trump is:
The return of the televised task force news conference — at which reporters were limited to only a handful of questions — revived the deep disconnect between Washington and the states where local officials spent Friday sounding the alarm and, in some cases, halting the reopening that Mr. Trump has so often encouraged.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who has resisted rolling back the economic reopening, banned drinking in bars after saying that patrons were not abiding by social distancing rules. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, also a Republican, went further, ordering all bars closed in the state. And Judge Lina Hidalgo of Harris County, the largest county in Texas, reimposed stay-at-home orders on Friday, calling the rise in cases there “a catastrophic and unsustainable situation.”
Taken together, it was grim news about a pandemic that is still a threat to the public’s health, the nation’s economy and the president’s political future.
At a time when his poll numbers now call into question whether he can win a second term in November, Mr. Trump faces the prospect that his efforts to boost the economy by shrugging off the virus have backfired. Rather than head into the summer with a country on the mend, the president will be forced to explain how his response to the coronavirus contributed to a resurgence of it that may force some Americans back into a painful shutdown.
And yet Mr. Trump made no appearance at the task force briefing to demonstrate concern. Instead, an hour after it was over, the president addressed a panel of industry officials, political allies and White House economic advisers for a self-congratulatory session about how successful the economic recovery has been.
In taking his victory lap, Mr. Trump made no mention of the increase in cases around the country, underscoring a message that he posted on Twitter late Thursday night: “Our Economy is roaring back and will NOT be shut down. ‘Embers’ or flare ups will be put out, as necessary!”
All spring, Mr. Trump expressed his impatience and annoyance with the social distancing measures that various states, and his own aides, were taking.
He showed some concern when his personal valet, who serves his food, was diagnosed with the coronavirus and Mr. Pence’s press secretary tested positive. But since then, Mr. Trump has maintained a posture of denial and dismissiveness.
Even mini-Trumps like DeSantis and Abbott have enough residual interest in the life of the people they govern to react as their hospitals fill up and people die alone, but if it doesn’t pose a risk to him personally Trump genuinely does not give a shit. And given that he sets the tone for one of the country’s two major factions, he remains a massive barrier to efforts to crush the virus.
In related news, I honestly can’t see any way that indoor restaurant dining (let alone bars) can be done safely in jurisdictions where the virus is alive.