A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 170th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

Trump's "disinfectant" moment was a simple microcosm of the character flaws that make him unfit for office. It was so bad he scrapped his briefing strategy.
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, listens as William N. Bryan, science and technology advisor to the DHS Secretary, delivers remarks and answers questions from members of the press during a coronavirus task force briefing Thursday, April 23, 2020, in the James S. Brady White House Press Briefing Room. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, listens as William N. Bryan, science and technology advisor to the DHS Secretary, delivers remarks and answers questions from members of the press during a coronavirus task force briefing Thursday, April 23, 2020, in the James S. Brady White House Press Briefing Room. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Trump’s first major typo after winning the election was spelling Unprecedented incorrectly. He infamously tweeted “Unpresidented.” This typo is emblematic of his administration: An impulsive, frantically thrown together group of characters with virtually no oversight. After Trump was sworn in, I started writing the weekly “Unpresidented” column, analyzing every week of his presidency. This is week 170.

A lot happened this week, but before break all that down, let’s start with the moment that broke the propaganda briefings’ back. In a single moment, President Trump so succinctly highlighted his carelessness, recklessness, and ignorance that it was universally mocked and forced the White House to rethink their entire messaging strategy.

After showcasing a study that claimed UV light and high temperature kills coronavirus on surfaces, Trump advocated shining a light inside the body and injecting disinfectant into people to treat COVID-19. The full quote is even worse:

“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.”

This was President Trump’s simple mind at work. Trump heard the study that UV light and disinfectant kills the virus so his first thought was “apply that to the body.” One of the main reasons Trump repeatedly shoots himself in the foot is that he’s a simpleton who thinks he’s smarter than everyone around him when the opposite is true. In his mind, the doctors couldn’t have possibly thought of his idea yet, because he’s so brilliant. Trump genuinely thought he was being helpful, and that’s the saddest part of this.

Trump is a typical egomaniac that overestimates his own abilities and is incapable of recognizing his stunning knowledge gaps. This makes him a deeply ill-equipped leader, along with all of his other glaring character flaws. And that was on full display in that moment. It was so bad, that Trump ended Friday’s briefing early, didn’t hold one all weekend, and is reportedly thinking about limiting his role in future briefings.

President Trump’s disinfectant moment damaged him so greatly because it was such an easy to understand, indefensible act of foolery. It wasn’t an “erosion of norms” or some nuanced act Fox News could spin. This was something that everyone at any level of knowledge could see was pure ignorance.

A lot of pundits often wonder how Trump has been able to maintain support after one depraved act after another, but it’s pretty simple: The economy was doing well and a lot of people were largely tuned out – more than many journalists realize. But they’re not anymore.

When COVID-19 hit, folks craved accurate information. When those who haven’t been paying much attention finally tuned in, they saw a self-obsessed egomaniac masquerading as the President of the United States. The years of media critiques against Trump that once seemed esoteric were suddenly real as they saw him mishandle something that could get them killed. Before COVID-19, it was easy for a lot of people unaffected by Trump’s incompetence to laugh off his idiocy. But with this, it was no longer funny.

Anyone who has been sleepwalking through this presidency while the media and tuned in Americans yelled about Trump’s hollowing out of government, eroding norms, and discrediting institutions suddenly realize it’s all true and it’s the reason we’re in this situation.

This disinfectant moment wasn’t a fuzzy moral issue which much of Trump’s base doesn’t care about because depravity excused there. It wasn’t a lie or policy issue, which Trump’s base has largely programmed to spin. It was literally advocating something that you tell your kids not to do when they’re babies. That is why you’re seeing this disinfectant moment not just on news but on tik toks and meme pages. This hit all ages groups and demographics. The president is a moron, and everyone knows it.

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After the disinfectant moment, it finally got through to Trump that his propaganda briefings highlighted his unfitness for office and only stirred up confusion and outrage in a public that is looking for calm reassurance and facts. But it wasn’t just this moment that had the White House rethinking Trump’s daily propaganda sessions. The Wall Street Journal had previously blasted them as vessels to serve Trump’s ego. Criticism began piercing the conservative echo chamber as his poll numbers continued to take a hit.

A hypothesis I had during the impeachment trial, and whenever Trump is off-camera for a long period fo time, appears to hold true time after time. Whenever Trump lays low, he always sees a polling bump, just like we saw during the impeachment trial and at the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdowns in early March. Whenever Trump increases his visibility, he always harms himself politically because he’s an unhinged self-saboteur.

It was clear from the very first briefing this would hurt President Trump. Watching him celebrate his high ratings was hilarious because they were actually damaging him. People who were usually tuned out were reminded of how unfit he is. Now, Trump’s approval rating is in the low 40s and his trust among the American people is even lower than that, with some polls having him the 20s. And who can blame the people, with President repeatedly relaying false hope about the coronavirus and pushing false cures.

As we saw with the disinfectant moment, President Trump did not learn his lesson after pushing hydroxychloroquine, which we saw continue to fail as a COVID-19 treatment this week. In March, President Trump and Fox News promoted the effectiveness of combining hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to treat COVID-19. This week, the National Institute of Health recommended against using the combo to treat COVID-19.

There was also yet another study that signaled hydroxychloroquine is not effective and actually increases death rates in COVID-19 patients. When Trump was asked about it at a briefing, Trump waved it off like he didn’t want to discuss it. Trump completely brushed off a second question about why he stopped promoting hydroxychloroquine and said he hasn’t seen the new studies. It appears Trump’s strategy is to deflect and pretend he never advocated it. The hydroxychloroquine cheerleader is gone, but we have a long memory.

President Trump initially lied and said hydroxychloroquine was FDA-approved to treat COVID-19. Trump repeatedly touted it, despite its side effects. Fox News propagandized the drug with misleading coverage. After studies proved it’s ineffective and increases death rates, the FDA has now issued a warning against its use. After that, Trump backed away from hydroxychloroquine faster than a kid who just lit a firework.

Speaking of hydroxychloroquine, we have another COVID-19 era whistleblower, folks. HHS official Dr. Rick Bright was removed from his position as he lobbied against the Trump Administration’s push of unproven drugs, including hydroxychloroquine. In his statement, Bright went as far as to call this administration’s handling of this pandemic “placing politics and cronyism ahead of science.” When asked about this on multiple occasions, President Trump said he doesn’t know who he is and hasn’t heard enough about the incident. Sounds familiar?

This week, we also saw more of President Trump undermining his own administration’s messaging and response to COVID-19. In a briefing this week, Trump said that coronavirus may not even come back. In that same briefing, less than 30 minutes later, Dr. Anthony Fauci said: “We will have coronavirus in the fall, I am convinced of that.”

President Trump went further to try and contradict the experts in his administration who are accurately claiming there will be a second wave of coronavirus. Trump began a briefing by forcing the CDC director to clean up his initial statements about a second wave being more difficult. But in the end, CDC Director Redfield ended up confirming his statements, saying that he was quoted accurately in The Washington Post.  It’s clear that President Trump will likely make the same mistake of downplaying COVID-19 amid a second wave this fall. This will, of course, make it worse. Trump is incapable of learning from his mistakes.

When it comes to self-defeating behavior, President Trump continued to defend the dangerous anti-lockdown protests, or as they should be called “COVID-19 spreading parties.” Countless polls indicate these protests are wildly unpopular and don’t even reflect what his base believes. Can pundits stop saying Trump has good political instincts now?

Attorney General William Barr went as far as to say the Trump Administration is considering supporting lawsuits against states that they believe have too harsh of shutdowns. So, they want to sue states for enacting COVID-19 public health measures that they suggested? Makes sense.

President Trump has flip-flopped on this issue multiple times. After first supporting Georgia’s premature reopening of parts of their economy, Trump said he is unhappy with Governor Brian Kemp’s decision. This was a preemptive way to distance himself from the deaths to come. While blue states will be gearing up to reopen parts of their economy in the Summer, the red states with governors who didn’t’ take this seriously will just be entering their peaks.

Speaking of red states and blue states, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) took Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to task for stating that we should stop “blue state bailouts” and advocating states go bankrupt rather than get coronavirus relief. After pointing out that New York gives more money to the federal government than it takes and stating that Kentucky takes more than it gives, Cuomo summarized: “Mitch McConnell is a taker, not a giver.”

In other news: in the Oval Office on Friday, President Trump publicly extorted the USPS. Trump launched into a rant calling the USPS “a joke” and then said they need to raise the prices of delivery. In this attack, Trump specifically attacked Amazon. Trump then said if they don’t raise the prices, he won’t give them coronavirus aid. Make no mistake about what this is. Trump is using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to withhold aid in an effort to pressure USPS changes that would harm his perceived enemy, Jeff Bezos, via tweaking delivery fees that would affect Amazon. Once an extorter, always an extorter.

You can’t end a week in the Trump era without an immigration move, right? President Trump took a frivolous, nationalist measure this week to temporarily ban green card immigration during this pandemic. Trump said this immigration pause will somehow prevent immigrants from taking US jobs, repeating the baseless trope that it’s immigrants who are most responsible for US job loss and not automation. A futile effort to rile up a shrinking base. We’ll see if it works.

Let’s dive into another Unpresidented week.

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Trump Continues To Push For Reopenings

Day 1,187: Monday, April 20

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House COVID-19 Coronavirus task force – – Thursday, April 16, 2020. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House COVID-19 Coronavirus task force – – Thursday, April 16, 2020. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Monday’s top stories:

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Immigration Deflection

Day 1,188: Tuesday, April 21

President Donald Trump listens during an event on immigration alongside family members affected by crime committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, Friday, June 22, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump listens during an event on immigration alongside family members affected by crime committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, Friday, June 22, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Tuesday’s top stories:

HHS Official Removed After Protesting Use Of Hydroxychloroquine

Day 1,189: Wednesday, April 22

HHS Secretary Alex Azar signs a public health emergency declaration – February 1, 2020 (Source: HHS)

HHS Secretary Alex Azar signs a public health emergency declaration – February 1, 2020 (Source: HHS)

Wednesday’s top stories:

DisinfectGate

Day 1,190: Thursday, April 23


Thursday’s top stories:

The Trump-China Debt

Day 1,191: Friday, April 24

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, listens to a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a business event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, listens to a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a business event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Friday’s top stories:

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Unpresidented // Coronavirus / Donald Trump