It was vintage Donald Trump at the White House on Labor Day. Even as Joe Biden was campaigning in Pennsylvania to beef up his outreach to union members, Trump ambled out to the North Portico of the White House for a press conference, where he addressed the subject of his postmaster general Louis DeJoy—and promptly threw him to the wolves. Asked if DeJoy should be investigated, Trump didn’t hesitate: “Sure, sure, let the investigations go.”
This from a president who has spent much of his tenure assailing a variety of investigations directed at the White House? When it comes to his subordinates, however, Trump does not appear to feel the same degree of outrage. DeJoy, he indicated, should be tossed out “if something can be proven that he did something wrong.” When the most that Trump can say about you is that you’re “a very respected man,” you know that trouble looms. Soon Trump may allege that he never even really heard of DeJoy.
If DeJoy, who allegedly shook down his employees as CEO of New Breed Logistics for campaign donations to the GOP, has only himself to blame for his joyless predicament. Anyone who signs up to work for Trump knows full well that loyalty to his subordinates is not among his principal distinguishing qualities. Quite the contrary. The list of employees who have been thrown overboard by Trump could probably stock an entire season of reality shows.
By contrast, Trump, who has referred to himself as a “very stable genius,” assured everyone that all is well. “The vaccine will be very safe and very effective and it’ll be delivered very soon,” he maintained. “You could have a very big surprise coming up.” Talk about the triumph of hope over reality. No credible public health official believes that a vaccine can miraculously be produced in the next few weeks, or at least one that will put an end, once and for all, to the pandemic—and even if one does go into production, it will require an enormous effort to distribute it effectively. According to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll, two-thirds of voters indicate that they will not move quickly to obtain a vaccine dose. One in four say they will never consent to it.
Right now, it appears that the administration is not taking the precautionary measuresthat are imperative to avoid a resurgence of the pandemic this fall. The University of Washington modeling predicts that up to 410,000 Americans may die this year. On the matter of producing a vaccine overnight, Trump is in essence a party of one.
How Trump will fare this fall remains an open question. But with his campaign in dire financial straits and pulling ads off the air in Arizona, his prospects do not appear auspicious. As the election looms larger, his predicament is unlikely to ease.