I’m as surprised and horrified as anyone, but I finally believed words that came out of the mouth of President Donald Trump.
As many of you of course know, his administration has lied almost every day of his presidency, and adding that disclaimer is me at my most End Days-generous. He’s botched the initial response to the virus — and lied about that, too.
But now he’s saying that we’re on the hook until July or August — and I think he’s on the level.
And that is terrifying.
Understand that this is the road we’ve traveled with the guy who in theory is supposed to lead us out of this crisis:
In just a matter of weeks, he’s said:
“We have it very well under control.”
“The numbers are going to get progressively better.”
“One day — like a miracle — it will disappear.”
Those were lies, every one of them, lies that some of my fellow journalists have insisted on characterizing as “untruths” and “falsehoods” that undermined his credibility and our public confidence.
And then Trump said:
“I take no responsibility at all, for the slow rate of coronavirus testing in the United States.
“We will be backing you," he told governors Monday about ventilators and other life-saving instruments needed to fight coronavirus, "but try getting it yourselves.”
Even when Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican ally, rushed to Trump’s defense, saying the president only meant that they shouldn’t get caught up in federal bureaucracy if they could get the equipment faster, it still felt like one big, You’re all on your own!
Which is exactly how living in this country had felt for many people before there was a crisis in which nobody could conveniently opt out.
No one gets a pass with a pandemic — even if wealth and fame likely get you tested faster — which might explain why a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll showed that only 46% of Americans now say the federal government is doing enough to prevent the spread of coronavirus, down from 61% in February.
It also found that only 37% of Americans have a good amount or a great deal of trust in what they’re hearing from the president, while 60% say they have little or no trust in what he’s saying.
But there is public opinion, and there are Trump’s whiplash delusions.
Even when he seemed to strike a more sober tone at his address Monday — which, honestly, worried me even more — he gave himself a 10 out of 10 for his coronavirus response. Talk about grading on a curve.
Remember, this was the same virus he originally seemed to be calling a hoax. Now, this week, it’s an “invisible enemy" that could last months and cause a recession.
“They think August, could be July,” Trump said.
You know, give or take the impending apocalypse. If that sounds flip, understand that being irreverent is my coping mechanism. What’s yours?
I mean, who in their right mind believes Trump tested negative for the virus? Especially when this week he homina homina homina’d his response to a reporter asking what it was like to take the test.
“Not, not uh — something I want to do everyday … you know, it’s a little bit of a — it’s a little bit of — good doctors in the White House, but it’s a test. It’s a test. It’s a medical test. Nothing pleasant about it.”
There was one more glimpse of truth — Trump said he told his 13-year-old son that “it’s bad, it’s bad" — before reverting to his old ways.
After his address on Monday, Trump went back to downplaying the lasting effects of the coronavirus outbreak and called it “the Chinese virus” in a tweet.
And continued with the gaslighting on Tuesday: “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”
But for one brief, horrifying moment, I trusted something the president said, and God help us all.