Lamenting his plunging popularity this week, a self-pitying President Donald Trump wondered how it all went wrong.
“Nobody likes me,” he said, confounded at how his administration’s health experts could be receiving accolades while he is accused of ignoring and denying the raging public health crisis.”It can only be my personality,” Trump said, “that’s all.”That’s one answer.In a week that saw a devastating global pandemic worsen, a record economic meltdown confirmed and an all-out bid to stoke racial tensions for political gain deepen, Trump is finding himself more and more the odd man out: absent and detached from the leadership of either party, locked in antique cultural battles and increasingly unpopular among voters.
By Friday, the President’s blunt assessment of his own popularity seemed to have manifested in a litany of other ways:
• Even his staunchest Republican allies flatly rejected his suggestion that November’s voting be delayed, some actually laughing at what, by most accounts, was a serious (if toothless) proposal from the President to undermine the election.
• The nation’s civic leadership, including three of Trump’s four living predecessors, gathered without him in Atlanta to honor the late Rep. John Lewis, making the sitting president’s absence conspicuous if unsurprising.
• Stimulus talks on Capitol Hill have proceeded almost entirely without his participation, and have been notable mainly for the disarray they have exposed among Republicans, many of whom were unpleasantly surprised to learn the President’s demand for a new FBI building was included in the final proposal.
• In a closed door hearing on Friday, intelligence officials working in Trump’s own administration discounted the possibility of foreign countries mass-producing fake ballots to interfere in the November elections — a claim Trump seemed to be making simultaneously from the Cabinet Room.
• And the concerted push by Trump to delegitimize mail-in ballots is raising alarm bells among Republican operatives, who are worried the President’s demand for in-person voting will mainly serve to dampen turnout among his own supporters
Trump’s attempts to regain standing have only exacerbated the divorce and led to worries he is weighing down his party’s ability to move forward. Long dismissive of the Washington establishment, Trump has shown little concern at how his moves are forcing allies into awkward positions or alienating himself from longstanding norms….