Trump’s absolutely tone-deaf response to the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis — most notably a photo-op of Trump holding a Bible outside of St. John’s church in Washington — has been roundly criticized
, including by many top former White House officials. “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try,” said former Defense Secretary James Mattis earlier this month
. “Instead he tries to divide us.”
Another former Trump administration official, national security adviser John Bolton, is out with a memoir of his time in the White House that suggests
, among other things, that Trump sought the help of the Chinese president in his 2020 reelection race and seemingly approved of the use of concentration camps by China. Bolton, in an interview with ABC News
, said that Trump is not “fit for office” and doesn’t have “the competence to carry out the job.”
This series of body blows has badly damaged Trump’s chances of winning a second term. His approval rating collapsed
over the last month in Gallup polling. CNN’s latest national poll
shows Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by 14 points. Swing-state polling shows similar gaps widening between Biden and Trump.
Add it all up and you get this: In a roller-coaster presidency, this is the lowest Trump has ever been.
And that’s even taking his impeachment into account! Why? Unlike his impeachment by the House of Representatives earlier this year
, Trump’s actions over the past month (or so) have led to a shrinkage in his support rather than a rallying effect amongst his base.
It’s too soon to declare Trump’s presidency over — there are still 138 days before the November election — but there’s no question that he now faces longer odds than ever before in his bid to win a second term.
As he so often does when faced with facts he doesn’t like, Trump turns to favorable outlets — and to Twitter — to seek to create his own reality.
“If you look at the polls, we’re way ahead of sleepy Joe in terms of enthusiasm,” Trump told Fox News Sean Hannity
in a phone interview on Wednesday night. “We have enthusiasm like they have never seen before, actually. And Joe has the lowest, I hear, enthusiasm on record.” (Um, no
Of the coronavirus, Trump said: “I don’t even like to talk about that, because it’s fading away. It’s going to fade away.” (This week 10 states reported their highest number of coronavirus cases
since the pandemic began.)
Following the Supreme Court’s DACA ruling Thursday, Trump tweeted this
“These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!”
He then added in a subsequent tweet:
“Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?” (Trump has appointed two Justices — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts as well as Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito were also appointed by Republican presidents.)
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal released Thursday afternoon, Trump seems to take credit for drawing attention to Juneteenth, a day of remembrance commemorating the official end of slavery in the United States.
“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” said Trump
. “It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.” (Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia celebrate Juneteenth as a holiday
Trump’s retreat into an alternate reality, however, won’t change the actual reality. No matter how many tweets he send or how many adoring fans he packs into an indoor arena in Tulsa on Saturday, the facts are these: Trump is not only faced with the worst political outlook of his presidency but is also facing signs of a revolt from within his own party and even among those who he once relied on as trusted advisers.
Trump likes to insist that he does best when all is chaos around him and when people are counting him out. Now’s his chance to prove it — because digging out of the hole he has made for himself will be a massive task.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the description of Grassley’s announcement.