Who told you that?

Ashley Parker has a useful summary of that nightmare press briefing yesterday.

President Trump stepped to the lectern Monday on a day when the coronavirus death toll in the United States ticked up past 23,000. He addressed the nation at a time when unemployment claims have shot past 15 million and lines at food banks stretch toward the horizon.

In other words several weeks into the worst catastrophe most of us have ever experienced. Even the war wasn’t a catastrophe for us on this side of the Atlantic the way this one is – in fact for a lot of people it brought jobs that paid a decent wage after more than a decade of high unemployment and basement-level wages. But this thing is disease and unemployment and immiseration. It’s made life for the non-rich, which is most of us, hellish.

So what is Trump focused on? Himself, of course.

Yet in the middle of this deadly pandemic that shows no obvious signs of abating, the president made clear that the paramount concern for Trump is Trump — his self-image, his media coverage, his supplicants and his opponents, both real and imagined.

Not parents of young children who live paycheck to paycheck and have to figure out how to keep their children safe with no schools open. Not people gasping for air in crowded hospitals. Not medical workers sweating and exhausted under masks and visors and gowns working desperately to save the people gasping for air. Not family and friends of people gasping for air, or no longer gasping because they’re dead. Not bus drivers and grocery store workers and people who work for the postal service and UPS and Amazon. Not people who used to work in restaurants and bars who can’t pay their rent. Just him.

“Everything we did was right,” Trump said, during a sometimes hostile 2½ -hour news conference in which he offered a live version of an enemies list, brooking no criticism and repeatedly snapping at reporters who dared to challenge his version of events.

At one point — after praising himself for implementing travel restrictions on China at the end of January and griping about being “brutalized” by the press — Trump paused to boast with a half-smirk, “But I guess I’m doing okay because, to the best of my knowledge, I’m the president of the United States, despite the things that are said.”

No, see, that’s just it. The fact that he’s president does not mean he’s doing okay. It means we’re a broken catastrophe of a country.

First Trump made Fauci get up and say he’d misspoken on CNN when he acknowledged that Trump sat on his ass all through February when he should have been taking steps. (Not an exact paraphrase of what Fauci said.)

Next, Trump played a propaganda-style video that he said had been pulled together by White House aides earlier in the day. In a short hagiography more in line with a political event than a presidential news conference, clips critical of the media were interspersed with footage of loyalists praising the president.

One could write a book on what is so disgusting about that.

Shortly after Trump played the video, CBS’s Paula Reid pressed him on how his administration had not used the month of February to ready itself for the coming virus, after sharply limiting travel from China.

“You didn’t use it to prepare hospitals, you didn’t use it to ramp up testing,” Reid said, before Trump cut her off, calling her “disgraceful.”

Which of the two is really the disgraceful one here?

At another moment, seemingly eager to assert his dominance over the nation’s governors, Trump declared incorrectly, “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total.”

No there’s no reason to assume it’s just that he’s eager to assert his dominance over the nation’s governors. It’s all too obvious that he’s determined to assert his dominance over all of us – all of us in the US and all of us out of it, too, because we’re The Big Cop.

Later, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins followed up: “You said when someone is president of the United States, their authority is total. That is not true. Who told you that?”

I like “who told you that?” It’s so contemptuous. It’s not something you say to an adult, it’s something you say to a child. It conjures up a vision of Pence or Barr or any of Trump’s abject goons Telling Him That while kissing his ass from a kneeling position.

The whole thing was a horror. It was worse than Psycho.

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