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As US Death Count Nears 100,000, Trump Indulges His Ego and Deflects Blame

Trump’s Tuesday gibberish eruption is a feature, not a bug, of his entire presidency.

President Trump speaks during a tour at the Ford Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on May 21, 2020.

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Donald Trump had quite a day for himself on Tuesday. During a Rose Garden event intended to promote protections for senior citizens with diabetes, the man who recently pondered the possibility of injecting COVID-19 patients with disinfectant mused audibly on the potential virtues of insulin… for himself.

“I don’t use insulin,” he said. “Should I be? Huh? I never thought about it. But I know a lot of people are very badly affected, right? Unbelievable.”

As the event blundered on, diabetic seniors took a back seat to Trump’s ceaseless cascade of petty grudges and serial lies. He blamed Joe Biden for the pandemic, pledged to protect Social Security and Medicare after threatening to link cuts to those programs to COVID relief payments, garblewarbled his way through comments on “price transparency” in the face of skyrocketing insulin costs, called for a murder investigation into MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, insisted he has the authority to overrule state governors on reopening houses of worship (he does not), referred to voting as an “honor” and not a right, and dismissed wearing a mask to thwart the virus as being “politically correct.”

This was just one small slice of Trump’s day. “For all of the political hacks out there,” he ranted on Twitter before lunch, “if I hadn’t done my job well, & early, we would have lost 1 1/2 to 2 Million People, as opposed to the 100,000 plus that looks like will be the number.” This, from the man who spent the early portion of the pandemic pretending the whole thing was “going to go away” and was “very well under control.”

I’m so old, I remember when Republicans went out of their way to grovel at the feet of all things military. Not so much anymore in Trump’s GOP, it seems, given that the commander-in-chief of all U.S. forces attacked Marine Corps veteran Rep. Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania as an “American fraud.” Not to be outdone even by himself, Trump vividly misrepresented Lamb’s voting record, but that was before misspelling his name as “Connor Lamm” in a since-deleted tweet.

There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” Trump bleated for breakfast. “Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.” Trump is eyeing the 2020 election the way recalcitrant children stare dolefully at the broccoli on their dinner plates, and for good reason: His re-election numbers are slipping. He is in favor of anything that will make casting a ballot in November a more challenging, if not lethal affair, despite the fact that mail-in voting would be a boon to his loyal rural supporters.

This tsunami of presidential bilge did manage to summon a bit of tepid pushback from some uncommon corners. The eternally conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal rose in post-horse-barn-door dudgeon to denounce Trump’s attacks on MSNBC’s Scarborough as behavior that is “debasing his office.” Trump had been debasing his office every day for the last 1,222 days when the Journal finally perked up, and they picked this media-centric mini-scandal to get righteous about. Color me unimpressed.

Trump has used Twitter as the main vector for the poison he vomits into the body politic, and yesterday, the social media giant finally did a very small thing to address this: It slapped a “fact check” label on Trump’s tweet about mail-in voter fraud. The brass at Twitter probably believe this is some kind of thunderclap move, the internet equivalent of hanging a scarlet letter around Trump’s neck. “For its 14-year existence, Twitter has allowed misinformation by world leaders and everyday citizens to spread virtually unchecked,” reports The Washington Post. But yeah, totally, that “fact check” label will straighten everything out.

The ragged, haggard, desolate, bleak, wrenching, altogether horrifying truth of the matter is that I could have written an article almost exactly like this each and every one of those 1,222 days, and almost certainly could do so tomorrow and the day after, ad infinitum.

Why is today different? Because either by the end of this day, or by tomorrow, the United States will pass the brutal threshold of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths. According to Johns Hopkins, the count stood at 98,933 souls as of 9:45 am this morning. It did not have to be this way, and in the face of such a towering failure, Donald Trump has chosen once again to take Steve Bannon’s advice and “flood the zone with shit.”

“We pass 15,000,000 Tests Today, by far the most in the World,” Trump crowed on Twitter this morning.

Meanwhile, executive director of the Association of Public Health Laboratories Scott Becker referred to Trump’s gossamer national testing strategy as being equivalent to The Hunger Games.

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