President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday his disagreement with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for safely reopening schools, calling the recommendations “very tough” and “expensive.”He also threatened he “may cut off funding” to schools that do not reopen, though the bulk of public school funding comes from state and local governments.
“I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!” the President tweeted.
During a press briefing a few hours later, Vice President Mike Pence said the CDC would issue new guidance on reopening schools next week. Both he and the CDC’s director said the agency’s recommendations should not be viewed as a barrier to returning children to classrooms.
At this point Trump is a cornered rat, who understands at a visceral level that he’s rapidly becoming a massive underdog against Biden. He also understands, to the limited extent that word is ever applicable to him, that primary and secondary schools not having in-person attendance this fall would produce huge social and economic costs, and would therefore generate a society-wide backlash, unless those costs were ameliorated significantly via government action, which in turn requires assuming a non-existent can opener in our deeply dysfunctional post-Reagan America.
Now the question of the extent to which schools should be open this fall is in fact an extremely difficult one. There’s a good public health argument for maintaining a high level of in person attendance, especially at the primary level. But needless to say Trump isn’t interested in any policy details: he just knows that the ways things are trending he’s going to “lose,” probably in a spectacularly humiliating way, and that’s an almost literally unbearable thought for a malignant narcissist.
His behavior is going to get ever-more erratic and irrational over the next three months, as he contemplates the spectacle of the total humiliation that Fred and Mary Anne Trump’s little boy has always known on some level was awaiting him. How he will ultimately deal with this existential threat to his sense of self remains anybody’s guess.