Amid rising confirmed coronavirus case counts, and a death toll that has begun to plateau, President Donald Trump spent much of Sunday lashing out at politicians, attacking the media, and bragging about his poll numbers. He also seemed to suggest Covid-19 is a cosmic or biblical force — and one that has already been stopped.
Sunday morning, the president panned former President George W. Bush’s recent call for bipartisan unity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, arguing his predecessor should have spoken up on his behalf during Trump’s impeachment process.
“Let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat,” Bush said Saturday in a video message to the public. “In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants.”
Trump felt this was inappropriate, however, quoting comments made by Pete Hegseth, a weekend cohost of Fox & Friends, who asked “where [Bush] was during impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside.” To this, Trump added, “He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!”
.@PeteHegseth “Oh bye the way, I appreciate the message from former President Bush, but where was he during Impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside.” @foxandfriends He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2020
After sending out the tweet about Bush, Trump proceeded to send out one adversarial and divisive post after another.
He deemed NBC and CNN “Chinese puppets who want to do business there” and “the enemy of the people.” He boasted about his approval ratings among Republicans and said that a new Gallup poll shows “Trump beating Sleepy Joe Biden.” (It does not.) He said there were “many complaints coming in” over Maine’s coronavirus response (despite the state government’s rising approval ratings) — and then added that he won the state. He also retweeted some of his old tweets, one in which he declared a video of a boat owner who painted Trump’s name onto his boat “very cool,” and another in which he falsely claims Democrats want “OPEN BORDERS.”
He capped off his spree with a tweet about America coming together as a nation — and it was an odd one, in which he described an America rising from the “death and destruction” caused by “a great and powerful Plague” that led to “lost souls all over the World:”
....And then came a Plague, a great and powerful Plague, and the World was never to be the same again! But America rose from this death and destruction, always remembering its many lost souls, and the lost souls all over the World, and became greater than ever before!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2020
Trump’s tone in the tweet, which didn’t seem to have any obvious contextual explanation, was roundly mocked on social media by his critics. “Camus wept,” quipped Charles Pierce, a politics writer for Esquire. Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall tweeted, “tfw you try to bible-speak on twitter.”
The tweet appeared to suggest the danger posed by the coronavirus had largely passed, given that it was all written in the past tense, but with its biblical language also seemed to place blame for the virus on some force greater than Trump himself, and one that he didn’t have control over.
While it is true that the coronavirus is believed to have come from nature, in reality, Trump has botched countless opportunities to fight against the virus. Among many other things, he downplayed its dangers, dismantled the bureaucratic expertise required to manage a pandemic, refused to swiftly take steps to provide Americans with protective gear and medical equipment, and conditioned aid to states on political favors.
These latest tweets have come during a period of heavy Twitter activity by the president. In general, Trump appears to tweet more when he feels under siege and wants to push back against particular narratives or Democratic attacks that undermine his reputation. Given that Trump is constantly under fire these days for his catastrophic mismanagement of the American coronavirus response, it’s not exactly surprising that he took to Twitter to unleash a wave of attacks.