|Heather Cox Richardson||Jul 20||I’m a history professor interested the contrast between image and reality in American politics. I believe in American democracy, despite its frequent failures.|
Trump is shifting his reelection pitch, and it has frightening implications for the country.
Over the weekend, the federal crackdown in Portland, Oregon continued, with people in unmarked camouflage uniforms arresting peaceful protesters and taking them away in unmarked vehicles. And then, they appeared—for now—to let them go. The administration appears to be constructing a scene of violence and disorder for the news media to show to viewers.
It seems clear that the Trump campaign—which got a new director last Wednesday– is going to make its case for reelection on the idea that there is violence in America’s cities that must be addressed with federal force, and that only Trump is willing to do so.
This is an apparent attempt to overshadow the increasingly alarming news about the coronavirus, which is now burning across the country with renewed vigor. Even as Republican governors are backtracking and asking people to wear masks, Trump continues to insist—falsely– that our spiking numbers are because of increased testing and that the virus will eventually disappear.
In an interview tonight with Chris Wallace on the Fox News Channel (remember, Wallace is an actual reporter, not an entertainment personality like Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity), Trump claimed—again, falsely—that some of the states are rolling back their reopening not because of the ravages of new coronavirus infections, but because they are trying to hurt his chances of reelection. “Many of those cases are young people that would heal in a day. They have the sniffles and we put it down as a test. Many of them — don’t forget, I guess it’s like 99.7 percent, people are going to get better and in many cases they’re going to get better very quickly,” he said.
When Wallace asked him how he would “regard your years as President of the United States,” Trump said: “I think I was very unfairly treated. From before I even won I was under investigation by a bunch of thieves, crooks. It was an illegal investigation.” Wallace tried to steer him back on track: “But what about the good—” Trump interrupted: “Russia, Russia, Russia.”
Wallace: “But what about the good parts, sir?
Trump: No, no, I want to do this. I have done more than any president in history in the first three and a half years, and I’ve done it through suffering through investigations where people have been—General Flynn, where people have been so unfairly treated….”
He went on, rehashing his grievances, until Wallace finally bade him goodbye.
From this wreckage, the campaign is trying to find a new, winning issue in law and order.