Assessing Risk Again

It was just another Monday. Things were going just fine and then they turned sour:

The remarkable stock market comeback of 2020 briefly had another notch in its belt Monday: Stocks once again turned positive for the year. But the sizable rally fizzled late in the day, and the market turned negative.

California’s decision to close indoor spaces, such as bars, restaurants and movie theaters, made some investors question whether America’s economic recovery was sustainable.

The Dow had jumped up 563 points and ended the day up just 11 points. The NASDAQ was worse. It had been up 1.9% and closed down 2.1% – 227 points.

Maybe things really are quite dismal:

The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, a coalition of economic researchers and legal experts, estimates that 19 million to 23 million Americans are at risk for eviction by the end of September.

Others see that too:

Today, upwards of 20 million U.S. renters are poised to be evicted between now and September, according to Emily Benfer, the chair of the American Bar Association’s Task Force Committee on Eviction.

The remarkable stock market comeback of 2020 seems to have been delusional optimism fed by fear, fear of missing out as others made their uninformed bets that things would soon be wonderful. But they made those bets. Take a chance. Bet with them. They must know something, right? And then that man out here, out west, said nope. They know nothing. This is not working:

Governor Gavin Newsom shut down indoor activities across California on Monday in the starkest sign yet that the nation’s most populous state is scrambling to prevent months of progress against the coronavirus from evaporating.

Newsom ordered houses of worship, gyms and barbershops to close across dozens of counties that collectively contain the vast majority of California’s population and most of its urban centers. Statewide, bars will need to again shutter and restaurants must halt indoor dining.

The sweeping order punctuated California’s rapidly deteriorating situation. In March, Newsom was the first governor in the nation to fully shut down his state, elevating California into a poster child for aggressive efforts to limit the pandemic’s spread. Public health officials credited the effort with staving off a surge that might have crippled the state’s health care system.

And then the citizens of California threw that away:

Caseloads and hospitalization numbers have risen sharply in recent weeks as California authorized counties to restart various sectors of the economy. Hospitals in some parts of the state are staring down the prospect of running out of beds as the state’s seven-day average of new infections is approaches 9,000 daily, while its positive test rate has climbed above 7 percent after hovering near 4 percent during the initial reopening process.

Florida is at 27 percent and Texas and Arizona close to that – with a five percent positive test rate the target – so California wasn’t all THAT bad – but it is still shutting down to save its hospital system. We reopened. The citizens of California wouldn’t wear masks and dropped all that social distancing crap, no matter what Newsom said. Oops. Those other three states have Republican governors who have vowed to reopen everything. They won’t back down, ever, and day by day are slowly backing down. They’ll get to where Newsom is soon enough. Delusional optimism fed by fear of missing out has to end:

In another sign of California’s precarious status, the state’s two largest school districts – those serving San Diego and Los Angeles – announced on Monday that students would not return to campus in the fall, a decision that affects more than 700,000 students.

Newsom was prepared to let Trump rage and threaten this or that. Trump is like that, but what he wants is impossible.

NBC News’ Benjy Sarlin covers that:

As the calls from the White House to fully reopen schools grow louder, evidence continues to pile up to show that scenario is unlikely to happen, at least not on the national scale President Donald Trump desires. That’s not because state and local officials aren’t trying, but because the spread of the virus is beginning to overwhelm even the best-laid plans.

Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, for example, had been working on a blueprint to reopen schools in August as part of a long and delicate process. But with the virus now surging across Texas, the outbreak may make the decision for him.

“Initially I thought we would be ready, but I’m starting to have second thoughts,” Hinojosa told MSNBC’s Garret Haake last week. “Our parents have pivoted, more than 50 percent of them are now saying they don’t want to come, and we’re hearing loud and clear from our employees, especially our teachers, that they have a lot of concerns about how we can pull this off.”

That’s a preview of what’s to come:

Public health experts, school officials, and teacher unions are warning that any proposal to physically reopen likely depends on containing the broader spread of the virus outside the classroom.

“I think it does become hard or impossible in areas with very high rates of infection,” Joshua Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins University and an advocate for reopening schools, said. “People will just be getting sick in the community and bringing it into the school. It will be very disruptive to the ability to stay open.”

That’s rather obvious:

Officials in Nashville and Atlanta have announced the school year will start online due to their own coronavirus surges. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has warned that school districts, some of which are already adopting hybrid plans, will not reopen if the state can’t keep infections down.

This presents obstacles to President Trump’s late scramble to open up schools, which he’s so far pursued by demanding that the Centers for Disease Control scale back its safety guidelines and by threatening schools that don’t open with some kind of financial punishment.

No one cares, not even the quite Republican governor in Texas:

Even as Texas state officials move forward with a plan to require all schools to reopen full-time, for example, Governor Greg Abbott has cautioned that “if we continue to see COVID spreading the way that it is right now, it may be necessary to employ that flexibility and use online learning.” State guidance materials caution schools to design plans for “intermittent closure” if outbreaks occur.

This just isn’t going to work:

The CDC offers some guidance to schools on how to isolate students or staff if they fall ill, but if parents pull their kids out of class in large numbers in favor of a remote learning option, that could effectively quash re-openings even if they continue on paper.

Both the worsening pandemic and Trump’s demands threaten to accelerate the trend by increasing anxiety about health conditions in schools. In Texas, a poll in June by the University of Texas/Texas Politics Project found 65 percent of respondents still considered schools “unsafe” for students.

And it’s not just them:

Keeping teachers on board with reopening amid a raging series of outbreaks is also likely to be a struggle. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten has warned of a potential exodus of teachers retiring, quitting, or taking leave if they decide conditions are unsafe.

Everyone seems to be walking away from Trump now. Some of them even seem to be tired of being used:

The White House has frequently cited recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, to attempt 5-day-a-week re-openings in schools.

But the AAP, seemingly alarmed by Trump’s approach, issued a joint statement with national teachers unions and the School Superintendents Association on Friday warning that any approach to schools needed to follow public health guidance and get buy-in from local parents and teachers.

Critically, they warned that reopening plans should be scrapped if the outbreak becomes too severe.

“Schools in areas with high levels of COVID-19 community spread should not be compelled to reopen against the judgment of local experts,” they wrote.

Everything has turned sour for Trump, and this sort of thing doesn’t help either:

A 37-year-old Ohio man who claimed the coronavirus pandemic was just ‘hype’ and repeatedly refused to wear a face mask has died from COVID-19.

Richard Rose, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, wrote on Facebook on July 1 that he was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and went to get tested.

The US Army veteran, who served for nine years and did two tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, tested positive.

He died from the virus at his home in Port Clinton, Ohio, on July 4.

Fox News was too discrete and respectful of the dead to mention this, but this went viral:

On May 29 he posted: ‘I stand by my President and his words. It’s finally time to have a President who has our backs. I’m glad to call him MY PRESIDENT!!’

He accompanied the text with a screenshot of Trump vowing to ‘crack down’ on Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis, after the death of George Floyd, and Trump referring to them as ‘thugs’.

The previous day, he wrote a post criticizing Black Lives Matter and describing the movement as ‘a joke’.

One month later he posted that the pandemic was just hype:

‘Let make this clear,’ he wrote, in a post that was shared 10,000 times. I’m not buying a fucking mask. I’ve made it this far by not buying into that damn hype.’

And then one thing led to another:

Leading up to his death, Rose shared updates about his health, writing on July 1: ‘I’ve been very sick the past few days. Symptoms of Covid-19. This morning I finally got swabbed. I should know soon what the results are. I just want to feel good again!’

Later that day he revealed that he had tested positive for the virus

‘Well. I’m officially under quarantine for the next 14 days,’ he wrote.

‘I just tested positive for COVID-19. That sucks because I had just started a new job!’

On July 2, Rose shared: ‘This covid shut sucks! I’m so out of breath just sitting here.’

He died two days later.

So, is he a hero-martyr who died heroically for Donald Trump, or is he a sad and now quite dead clueless jerk? Maybe he’s just an American. Michelle Goldberg explores that idea:

If you’re lucky enough to live in New Zealand, the coronavirus nightmare has been mostly over since June. After more than two weeks with no new cases, the government lifted almost all restrictions that month. The borders are still shut, but inside the country, normal life returned.

It’s coming back elsewhere too. Taiwan, where most days this month no new cases have been reported, just held the Taipei Film Festival, and a recent baseball game drew 10,000 spectators. Italy was once the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak and remains in a state of emergency, but with just a few hundred new cases a day in the whole country, bars are open and tourists have started returning, though of course Americans remain banned. According to The New York Times’s figures, there were 321 new cases in all of Canada last Friday.

And then there’s America:

We had 68,241 cases. As of last week, the worst per capita outbreak on the planet was in Arizona, followed by Florida. The world is closed to us; American passports were once coveted, but now only a few dozen nations will let us in. Lawrence O. Gostin, professor of global health law at Georgetown, told me he doesn’t expect American life to feel truly normal before summer 2022.

California had to start over. California just lost a few precious months. The nation will lose two years. Goldberg is not happy:

As our country plunges into a black hole of unchecked illness, death and pariahdom, the administration is waging a PR war on its own top disease expert, Anthony Fauci, trying to convince news outlets that he can’t be trusted. The move to treat Dr. Fauci as if he were a warring political rival comes as he has grown increasingly vocal in his concerns about the national surge in coronavirus cases…

Trump has also undercut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, retweeting the conspiratorial ramblings of the former game show host Chuck Woolery: “The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid-19. Everyone is lying. The CDC media, Democrats, our doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust.”

Trump was challenging America. Who do you really trust, Anthony Fauci or Chuck Woolery? Things have gotten that absurd, along with that tale from Ohio:

There are now so many stories of Trump fans dying after blithely exposing themselves to the virus that they’ve become a macabre cliché.

But her expert is onto something:

Gostin was part of the international panel that put together the Global Health Security Index, a report released last year that evaluated the pandemic readiness of every nation on earth. No country, they found, was as prepared as the United States. But the coronavirus, he said, has shown us that “health system capacity alone is almost useless unless you have a government that can unleash that capacity promptly and consistently.”

A multibillionaire former reality television host, now married to his third drop-dead gorgeous trophy wife in a row, may not have the skill-set to unleash the health system capacity of the nation promptly and consistently. A pleasant former game-show host might not have that skill-set ether. But then is Tony Fauci rich? Did he have a nine-year run with a quite popular game show? Trump is asking those questions. And that’s the end of things:

America has long fancied itself a swaggering colossus. It will likely emerge from this calamity humbled and decrepit.

The CDC forecasts total deaths from Covid-19 to rise to as many as 160,000 just by the end of the month. Many times that number will have long-term medical complications, and a record 5.4 million people lost their health insurance between February and May. A generation of American kids will have their educations derailed, and many parents who don’t lose their jobs due to the economic crisis will see their careers ruined by the demands of child care.

The country’s international humiliation is total; historians may argue about when the American century began, but I doubt they’ll disagree about when it ended.

Everyone remembers that Project for the New American Century that gave us the Iraq War and all the subsequent wars that followed that war, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz and that crowd. This would be OUR century!

Goldberg finds that a bit quaint:

Even before the coronavirus, researchers spoke of loneliness as its own epidemic in America. A March article in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry attributed 162,000 deaths a year to the fallout of social isolation. Now people are being told that they can socialize only under the most stringent conditions. Much of what makes life sweet is lost to us, not for days or weeks, but months or years.

“We’re going to stagger out of it; we’re not going to snap back,” Gostin said of the pandemic. He added, “It’s going to take several years for us to be able to come out of all of the trauma that we’ve had.”

Yet somehow there’s no drumbeat of calls for the president’s resignation. People seem to feel too helpless. Protesters can make demands of governors and mayors, especially Democratic ones, because at the local level small-d democratic accountability still exists. Nationally such responsiveness is gone; no one expects the president to do his job, or to be held to account when he doesn’t.

That’s how you know the country was broken before coronavirus ever arrived.

So it comes down to this:

This suffering, your suffering, wasn’t inevitable. The coronavirus is a natural disaster. The Republican Party’s death-cult fealty to Trump is wholly man-made.

And this death-cult fealty to Trump is more than that one dead guy in Ohio:

Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Pat Roberts of Kansas are planning to skip the Republican National Convention next month as the host state of Florida deals with the biggest outbreak of coronavirus cases in the nation.

Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Francis Rooney of Florida are sticking with their plans not to attend, even though the convention is now in their home state.

Marco Rubio, Florida’s senior senator, has not committed to attending. Neither has John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Senate Republican, or Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House Republican.

As new cases surge in Florida, including 15,300 reported on Sunday, more Republicans are taking a wait-and-see approach to the event, or deciding to skip it all together.

Do they join the death cult or not? There is that fear of missing out, but there’s reality too:

The GOP, which moved the convention to Jacksonville from Charlotte, N.C., after balking at health precautions there, now finds itself locked into a state with a far bigger virus problem, and planning an event whose attendance is waning as the pandemic escalates.

“Everybody just assumes no one is going,” said Representative Darin LaHood of Illinois, an honorary state co-chairman for the Trump campaign.

But that’s a matter of risk assessment:

Even as growing numbers of elected leaders express wariness about attending, a strong contingent of Republican National Committee members – many of whom have their political fortunes tied to Mr. Trump – say they still plan to go. In interviews, more than a dozen of them said they were committed, even “proud,” to celebrate the re-nomination of Mr. Trump…

“It’s a risk you have to take,” said Morton Blackwell, 80, an RNC member from Virginia who has attended every party convention since he was the youngest elected delegate backing Barry Goldwater in 1964. “You take risks every day. You drive down the street and a cement truck could crash into you. You can’t not do what you have to do because of some possibility of a bad result.”

Think of that young man in Ohio. Just go for it:

RNC members have little sympathy for members of Congress who pass on the convention. Party committee members have far more need to demonstrate loyalty to Mr. Trump – both for the president’s approval and for their own Trump-loving constituents – than do members of Congress skipping Jacksonville.

“It is not only my duty, but also my honor to go to Charlotte and Jacksonville to re-elect President Trump,” said Art Wittich, an RNC member from Montana. “As such, I am willing to assume any risk to do so.”

Think of that young man in Ohio. He’s dead. But let these RNC members do what they want. Everyone makes his or her own risk assessments. Donald Trump might be beginning to understand that now. And that may end his presidency.

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A More Likable Person

France got things under control. Most of Europe did and will not allow Americans to visit for now, because the United States lost control of its coronavirus pandemic. Canadians can visit. Americans cannot – they’d bring the whole thing back – they’d bring back death and misery. And they wouldn’t recognize the place anyway. Bastille Day has changed:

France’s fête nationale on July 14th will be bit different this year as traditional parades and celebrations including the highly popular bals de pompiers, where French firefighters host parties in their station houses, have been called off.

But this doesn’t mean it will be all gloom, as some celebrations will be maintained – albeit with some new health measures. The famous Bastille Day fireworks at the Eiffel Tower will be held as usual, but without the regular crowds watching the show from below. This year the July 14th military parade down the Champs-Elysées will be replaced by a tribute to the medical workers on Place de la Concorde.

And everyone is fine with that. No one needs any more death and misery. They did what was necessary. They’d locked down everything. That hurt but they weren’t going to let up now. They can live with a quieter and slower Paris.

Americans aren’t like that. Two days before Bastille Day it was this:

Florida shattered the national record Sunday for the largest single-day increase in positive coronavirus cases in any state since the beginning of the pandemic, adding more than 15,000 cases as its daily average death toll continued to also rise.

According to state Department of Health statistics, 15,299 people tested positive, for a total of 269,811 cases, and 45 deaths were recorded.

California had the previous record of daily positive cases – 11,694, set on Wednesday. New York had 11,571 on April 15.

The numbers come at the end of a grim, record-breaking week as Florida reported 514 fatalities – an average of 73 per day. Three weeks ago, the state was averaging 30 deaths per day. Since the pandemic began in March, 4,346 people have died in Florida of COVID-19, the state says.

But no one is thinking of locking anything down:

Because of the increase in cases and the positivity rate, doctors have predicted a rise in deaths, saying the mortality rate usually increases two to four weeks later as some of those infected get sicker and eventually die. Health experts are concerned that people are gathering in crowds, and have expressed concern that the Republican National Convention’s nomination party for President Donald Trump will be held in Jacksonville in August.

On Saturday, the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened at Walt Disney World in Orlando, concerning health experts who urge people not to gather in groups. Guests at the park said that people were wearing masks and social distancing, and videos showed near-empty parks.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that even with the rising rates, he still wants the schools to reopen as scheduled next month…

And the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville is still a “go” – Donald Trump insists. And there are those in his administration gently hinting that he has got this all wrong:

Two of the Trump administration’s top health officials acknowledged Sunday that the country is facing a very serious situation with the onslaught of rising coronavirus cases in several states, striking a far more sober tone than President Trump at this stage of the pandemic in the United States.

Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary with the Health and Human Services department, and Dr. Jerome Adams, the surgeon general, both emphasized their concern about surging outbreaks, many of them in areas where people have not followed recommended public health guidelines to contain the spread of the virus. Their remarks were in sharp contrast to Mr. Trump’s contention just last week that 99 percent of the cases were “totally harmless” and his boast of the country’s low death rate from the virus.

This is how they get him to consider their positions. He won’t meet with them. He doesn’t listen at meetings. Go on air. He watches television incessantly. Explain the logic there:

“We’re all very concerned about the rise in cases, no doubt about that,” Admiral Giroir, the official who has been in charge of the administration’s coronavirus testing response, said on ABC’s This Week.

“We do expect deaths to go up,” he said. “If you have more cases, more hospitalizations, we do expect to see that over the next two or three weeks before this turns around.”

Yes, the death rate is a bit low considering all the new cases and new hospitalizations. Wait two weeks. People take time to die. But they will die. Got it?

Of course these two did anticipate such talk would drive Trump into a rage so, as with a nasty junkyard dog, they threw him a bone:

Admiral Giroir said the percentage of positive test results was leveling off, and both officials said that doctors had better tools to treat people who become sick than they did at the start of the pandemic.

They steered clear of recommending widespread lockdowns in states with heavy caseloads where hospitals are becoming overwhelmed. Instead, they said those cities and states should consider closing bars and curtailing mass social gatherings, and they strongly urged the vast majority of people in those hard-hit areas to wear masks.

See, no lockdowns? Does that help? Who knows? Trump is a hard man to manage:

Masks have become a flash point in some areas of the country, especially among members of Mr. Trump’s political base. The president resisted wearing a mask for months, mocked some people who did, and only wore a mask in public for the first time on Saturday during a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

“It’s really essential to wear masks,” Admiral Giroir said. “We have to have like 90 percent of people wearing the masks in public in the hot spot areas. If we don’t have that, we will not get control of the virus.”

The host of This Week, George Stephanopoulos, asked him about suggestions by Mr. Trump that there could be some harm in wearing masks.

“There’s no downside to wearing a mask,” Admiral Giroir responded. “I’m a pediatric ICU physician. I wore a mask 10 hours a day for many, many years.”

He must have hoped that Trump was still watching at that point, but the whole nation had been watching Trump for weeks. This was no way to run a country. This was stupid. Philip Rucker and his team at the Washington Post report that the nation was fed up with this nonsense:

President Trump’s management of this summer’s crises has triggered what Democrats detect as a tectonic shift in the political landscape, with party leaders suddenly bullish about not only taking back the White House but also wresting control of the Senate, as well as expanding their House majority.

Trump’s incumbent advantages have steadily eroded since the spring, with the president now trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in virtually every public poll nationally and in battleground states, as well as lagging behind the former vice president in fundraising for May and June.

No one needs this death and misery, and no one needs a goofball president:

Trump and his advisers insist that their campaign’s internal data show the race as more competitive – “In the real polls, we are doing very well,” the president claimed Friday – and that he can gain momentum in the weeks ahead with a disciplined message and a brutal, sustained assault on Biden’s character, ideology and mental acuity.

Yet Trump has never shown much discipline, and time and again this year he has stymied his campaign’s best efforts with bouts of seeming self-sabotage. On Friday night, Trump provoked critics anew with his decision to commute the prison sentence of longtime confidant Roger Stone, an act Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) called “unprecedented, historic corruption.”

Even his own attorney general told Trump not to do that. What’s the message? You didn’t rat on me so here’s your reward? That’s close to bribery. And it looks sleazy. Add that to all the rest and it’s over, and he takes down his party with him:

Both Democratic and Republican operatives increasingly view Trump as a drag on GOP candidates in many key Senate and House races – especially in suburban areas, where polling and focus group data suggest he has been bleeding support.

Voters’ disapproval of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and of the racial justice movement, as measured in public surveys, has buoyed Democrats down the ballot. Some long-shot Democratic challengers in Kentucky, South Carolina and other Republican strongholds reported staggering fundraising hauls in recent days, which party leaders see as a sign that their playing field could expand further.

“It’s just in the air,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an interview. “You just feel it, the importance of taking back the Senate, the importance of getting the country moving again, the importance of paying attention to the middle class.”

Schumer said “we’re feeling very good” about winning the three or four seats required for Democrats to gain control of the Senate for the first time in six years.

And in the other chamber:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in an interview that if the election were held today, Democrats would pick up seats and expand their majority. But she cautioned that Trump remains popular in a number of congressional districts in traditionally Republican areas that Democrats captured in the 2018 midterm elections, leaving those incumbents endangered.

“For reasons that are beyond my comprehension, he still has some favorability in these districts, and so the question is: In the last election, did people stay home because he wasn’t on the ballot and now turn out because he is on the ballot and they support him?” Pelosi said. “It’s the strangest phenomenon I have ever seen in politics.”

Pelosi said she has warned fellow Democrats not to let down their guard. “I say: ‘Own the ground. Don’t give one grain of sand. Get everybody out.'” And Pelosi predicted that Trump and his allies would work to suppress access to the polls or create other obstacles for black people and other traditionally Democratic voters.

“One advantage we have this time over the last is people are vigilant, they are attuned, they are concerned,” Pelosi said.

This is bad, but hope springs eternal:

Haley Barbour, a former Mississippi governor and former Republican National Committee chairman, said Trump can recover with a more disciplined message.

“He needs to be talking about the accomplishments before the pandemic took hold, where we were, why the positive economy was because of his policies, and why what Democrats propose is not going to work,” Barbour said.

Yes, just ignore that pile of dead bodies in the corner, but Trump was never disciplined:

“There’s a tsunami coming,” said Terry McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor and former Democratic National Committee chairman. “If he’d early on jumped in front of the coronavirus and been a leader, this guy would’ve been unbeatable. But every opportunity he’s had to stand up and be a leader, whether Charlottesville or anything else, he’s failed each time.”

So this may be over:

The danger for Trump will be if the voters he lost are not willing to come back. Democratic pollster Peter Hart said this is the case, based on his extensive focus group interviews.

“Voters have arrived at a place that they’re done with Donald Trump,” Hart said. “The last four years have been total chaos, and the public says: ‘Stop the music. I want to get off.'”

Former Republican congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida, a state Trump carried in 2016, said the current environment there is unambiguously troubling for the president.

“The idea of a reality-TV president was perhaps intriguing or interesting to a lot of people while the country was on autopilot,” Curbelo said. “A lot of middle-of-the-road voters who took a chance on the president in 2016 are in a vastly different mood right now, and that is certainly true in suburban Florida, which will be decisive come November.”

They discovered that the country really never was on autopilot, so Trump needs a recovery plan, and he has one now. He may know nothing, but no one knows anything. The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman explains how that works:

President Trump’s advisers undercut the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, over the weekend, anonymously providing details to various news outlets about statements he had made early in the coronavirus outbreak that they said were inaccurate.

The move to treat Dr. Fauci, who has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for decades, as if he were a warring political rival, came as he has grown increasingly vocal in his concerns about the national surge in coronavirus cases, as well as his lack of access to Mr. Trump over the past several weeks. It has been accompanied by more measured public criticism from administration officials, including the president.

And it came just days after the White House called school reopening guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overly restrictive, part of a pattern of the administration trying to sideline recommendations that could slow the reopening of the economy, which Mr. Trump views as vital to his flailing re-election effort.

Fauci stopped being coy. Fauci said Trump was wrong one too many times. Trump says Fauci is wrong and so is the CDC and so is everyone else. But this seems like no more than deep resentment:

Aides to Mr. Trump first released to the Washington Post what the paper called a “lengthy list” of remarks that Dr. Fauci had made about the virus when it was in its early stages. That list featured several comments from Dr. Fauci that White House aides had privately complained about for months, including one in February in which he minimized the chance of asymptomatic spread and said people did not need to make big changes to their lives.

An official told the Post that several other officials were concerned about how often Dr. Fauci had been wrong.

Fauci had been wrong. He admits that. He learned more. He changed his mind. Science is like that. Politics is not:

A White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity insisted that the administration was not trying to discredit Dr. Fauci, who it acknowledged is an expert, but rather remind the public of his record and that it should be listening to a range of doctors.

A poll conducted for The New York Times by Siena College last month showed that 67 percent of Americans trusted Dr. Fauci when it came to the virus; only 26 percent trusted the president.

That may be what Trump resents more than anything else. His ratings stink. The doctor’s ratings are boffo – the term believed to have originated with the Hollywood trade magazine Variety. That’s what this seems to be about, but the doctor doesn’t seem concerned with ratings:

With the United States leading the world by a large margin in both cases and deaths, Dr. Fauci has grown more outspoken recently in interviews with his concerns about the virus, even as Mr. Trump has tried to push for states to reopen faster and has threatened to withhold federal money from school districts if they do not reopen in the fall.

In an interview on a podcast with last week, Dr. Fauci said that a few states had the virus under control but that “as a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don’t think you can say we’re doing great. I mean, we’re just not.”

By contrast, Mr. Trump has tried to play down the threat almost without interruption while making false claims about how quickly and effectively his administration has responded to it.

That’s not working, but this might:

A senior administration official said the document provided to the Post was intended to push back on any belief that the administration was negligent if it did not always adhere to Dr. Fauci’s words. The official argued that people who disliked Mr. Trump outside the administration had given outsize value to Dr. Fauci’s voice.

Fauci’s just another guy, right? That’s not quite true:

Despite claims early on in the fight against the virus that they enjoyed each other’s company, Mr. Trump has long been dismissive of Dr. Fauci in private, according to White House officials, taking note of the amount of time he spent on television and of when the doctor contradicted him during press briefings. Mr. Trump began growing frustrated with Dr. Fauci when he expressed concerns about the efficacy of using hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, to treat people who had the coronavirus. Mr. Trump has continued to evangelize in support of the drug, even after the Food and Drug Administration withdrew an emergency authorization allowing it to be used in coronavirus cases.

Trump has been angry for months. Why do these doctors think they know more about medicine than he does? Why are they so arrogant? It’s just not fair. He will get his revenge.

But how will he do that? The New York Times’ Matt Flegenheimer looks to Trump’s past to see how he gets out of impossible jams:

Two days had passed since the signal humiliation of his political life – the publication of audio in which Mr. Trump boasted about forcing himself on women – and the candidate was desperate to redirect the conversation. The result, less than two hours before an October 2016 debate against Hillary Clinton in St. Louis, was a gambit so secretive that several concerned parties were left in the dark.

Campaign advisers told Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman who was helping with debate preparations inside the team’s hotel suite, that Mr. Trump had to leave for a perfunctory “meet and greet.” They feared that Mr. Priebus would object if he knew the truth: Mr. Trump would be appearing on camera with women who had for years accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct – a brazen attempt to turn the issue of mistreating women back against the Clinton family.

That said nothing about Trump grabbing pussies but that really did rattle Hillary Clinton, which was the whole point, and here we go again:

Four years later, Mr. Trump looks, to all the political world, like a significant underdog again. His advisers concede that if the election were held today, he would lose to Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, most likely by a considerable margin.

But as the president road-tests a series of scattershot tactics to kick-start his struggling campaign – race-baiting through a national crisis; defending symbols of the Confederacy; denying the objective realities of a pandemic – allies and adversaries say their minds have wandered lately to his lowest moment in 2016, the last time his chances appeared so dire.

In fact, he may know what he’s doing:

The release and aftermath of the so-called “Access Hollywood” tape is at once a reminder of how quickly the contours of an election can change and of how far Mr. Trump is willing to go to change them. While some close to Mr. Trump have at times questioned his focus and resolve in this re-election, his behavior over a weekend of electoral peril in 2016 supplies a case study in how he can respond when he feels cornered – when he suspects he may lose.

“That’s his strength,” said Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director who has since called for Mr. Trump’s defeat. “When God was handing out shame genes, Trump picked up shameless genes from that countertop.”

That is how he operates:

Mr. Trump’s capacity for earth-scorching politics, rarely in doubt, has often been most conspicuous in times of campaign distress. When Ben Carson surpassed him in some polls of Republican voters in 2015, Mr. Trump appeared to swipe at his rival’s faith. When Ted Cruz proved a resilient primary foe, Mr. Trump posted an unflattering picture of Mr. Cruz’s wife and threatened to “spill the beans” about her, without elaborating.

This is a man who urged a foreign power to investigate Mr. Biden, more than a year before Election Day 2020, spawning an impeachment inquiry at home.

In none of those episodes was Mr. Trump confronting the headwinds he faces now, compelling veterans of 2016 to predict ugliness in the coming months that will test the bounds of even the most cynical strategist’s imagination.

They have advised the Biden campaign, sitting comfortably ahead in July, to brace itself.

“It makes sense for the Biden team to understand why they’re winning today,” said Robby Mook, Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager. “It makes even more sense for them to think about how they lose.”

It may be that no one can ever defeat shamelessness:

Today, few of them linger on the details of the weekend when Mr. Trump seemed all but done: the mass of Republicans urging him to quit; the taped apology that top advisers have likened to a “hostage video”; a public relations calamity so total that even the makers of Tic Tacs, the breath-fresheners referenced by Mr. Trump on the audio, sent a statement condemning him.

What supporters do remember is what it felt like to see Mr. Trump fight back.

“I found that a lot of women reacted to his strength. And I continue to hear that,” said Mica Mosbacher, a Republican fund-raiser who sits on the “Women for Trump” 2020 advisory board. “No one’s perfect.”

Women reacted to his strength and he won? This time he is strong again – doctors are stupid and science is stupid and he knows better and has always known better. Is that strength? He sees it that way. He’ll win reelection easily, unless these key voters this time see stupidity where he claims strength. They may know the difference this time.

Fred Barnes offers this:

I’ve argued that Trump should (and probably has plans to) clean up his act for the final three or four months of the campaign. By this, I meant that he would, in effect, alter his personality. He’d cool down and no longer spend large amounts of time acting self-centered, obnoxious, and defensive.

He did exactly that in the closing weeks of the 2016 race after the Hollywood Access tape appeared to have ruined his chances of winning. He became disciplined. His speeches were mostly prepared, and he read them. He curbed his habit of ad-libbing constantly.

It worked, but not by magic. Trump changed into a more likable person, or at least a less unlikable one.

Was he faking? Sure. Politicians have been known to do so. And yes, the new Trump was temporary. The old Trump returned, all too soon.

But he did win. And this time he can win again, by temporarily turning himself into a more likable person, or at least a less unlikable one. But it’s too late for that. Doctor Fauci already occupies that space. And no one can alter their personality. He is who he is. Trump’s moment has passed.

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