Saturday, April 25, 2020


Axios reports that The Daily Briefing Show might be going off the air.
President Trump plans to pare back his coronavirus press conferences, according to four sources familiar with the internal deliberations.

He may stop appearing daily and make shorter appearances when he does, the sources said — a practice that may have started with Friday's unusually short briefing.
We're told that aides and allies were trying to talk Trump out of holding the daily briefings even before Thursday's fiasco.
A number of Trump's most trusted advisers — both inside and outside the White House — have urged him to stop doing marathon televised briefings.

They've told him he's overexposed and these appearances are part of the reason polls aren't looking good for him right now against Joe Biden.

"I told him it's not helping him," said one adviser to the president. "Seniors are scared. And the spectacle of him fighting with the press isn't what people want to see."

... These conversations were underway before Trump suggested that researchers investigate whether doctors could cure coronavirus by injecting people with disinfectant. But a source said it finally seems to have dawned on Trump, after this incident, that these briefings aren't helping him. The CDC and other public health officials responded obliquely to the comment by telling people not to drink bleach.
But do you think Trump will cede the stage? Do you think he could bear to do that?

Either Trump will change his mind and keep the show going ("One source cautioned that decisions like this one are never final until they're final," the Axios story tells us) or he'll pivot to another venue for ego gratification.

As a New York Times story noted earlier this week, Trump feels trapped in the White House, and the briefings were the best part of what he regards as his unpleasant life.
The daily White House coronavirus task force briefing is the one portion of the day that Mr. Trump looks forward to, although even Republicans say that the two hours of political attacks, grievances and falsehoods by the president are hurting him politically.

Mr. Trump will hear none of it. Aides say he views them as prime-time shows that are the best substitute for the rallies he can no longer attend but craves.
Yup, and as NBC News reported this week, there are plans to send Trump out on the road.
With a “frustrated” President Donald Trump growing restless after weeks of nationwide shutdowns, his top aides and campaign officials are exploring ways to start venturing outside of Washington for events in the coming weeks.

... senior advisers are actively considering plans for the president to visit health care workers, first responders and Americans whose jobs have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

The timing of any travel remains unclear but the White House sees the week of May 4 as a target for the president to start leaving Washington “in a safe and responsible way,” modeling day trips after those of Vice President Mike Pence, who traveled to both Colorado and Wisconsin this week.
One of those Pence trips was for a commencement speech at the Air Force Academy, so now Trump has sprung a visit on West Point.
For President Trump, who adores the pomp and precision of military ceremonies, this was the year he would finally get one of the special perks of being president — delivering the commencement address at West Point, the only service academy where he has not spoken.

But the graduation was postponed because of the coronavirus, the cadets were sent home and officials at the school were not sure when it would be held or even whether it was a good idea to hold it.

... last Friday, the day before Mr. Pence was to speak at the Air Force ceremony in Colorado, Mr. Trump, never one to be upstaged, abruptly announced that he would, in fact, be speaking at West Point.

That was news to everyone, including officials at West Point, according to three people involved with or briefed on the event.... With Mr. Trump’s pre-emptive statement, they are now summoning 1,000 cadets scattered across the country to return to campus in New York, the state that is the center of the outbreak.
Great -- they'll all be getting on airplanes, which will fly into New York. What could go wrong?

Trump is also insisting there'll be a Fourth of July gathering in D.C. just like the one he had last year.
President Donald Trump said Fourth of July celebrations on the National Mall are scheduled for this year despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In the White House press briefing Wednesday, Trump said he still planned to hold the Salute to America event.

"On July 4th, we'll be doing what we had on the Mall, as you know. We're going to be doing it. Last year was a tremendous success," he said.
But won't reality put a check on all these plans? It should, but it might not.

Remember when Trump wanted to reopen the country on Easter Sunday, April 12? Advisors persuaded him to abandon that campaign. But then he got restless and wanted a reopening by the end of the month. Then he criticized Georgia governor Brian Kemp for taking him literally. (Some Georgia businesses are now reopening, many with frightened workers.) Clearly Trump will want to declare this crisis effectively over every couple of weeks until he's done it for the last time and abandoned us to whatever the virus does to us.

Note what's happening now: COVID-19 is still rampant in much of the country, but because of lockdowns and social distancing, the number of new cases in America may have plateaued. Daily deaths have declined in the worst American hot spot, New York State. If we believe the model of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, we'll have fewer than 1,000 deaths a day nationwide by May 2 and fewer than 100 deaths a day by May 21 (though that assumes a continuation of current social distancing practices).

If deaths drop below 1,000 a day soon, I think Trump will simply declare victory and try to reopen the country yet again. He might be talked out of it once more. But I think he'll hit the road in May, probably at outdoor events with social distancing or indoor events with limited attendance, at least at first. He's desperate.

How reality will respond to this is hard to say. But he'll be out there in May, and it will encourage other people to declare the crisis over. I wonder if the result will be that we won't even have a sustained seasonal dip in infections and deaths. Or maybe the effects of the weather on the virus will make Trump seem reasonable for a while -- maybe even for much of the summer. Maybe his poll numbers will even rise -- until the virus, in a country that, I'm sure, still won't be testing or tracking enough, comes roaring back.

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