First, the media, already drawing criticism for broadcasting his daily news conferences live since they contain gobs of misinformation (some of it dangerous to the public), should recognize that these events are campaign events, not opportunities to extract information from the president. He admits that his thinking is wrapped up in his reelection; since everything done toward that end is therefore a political exercise the media should stop covering events as though they were presidential news conferences.
Second, mayors and governors are increasingly and explicitly contradicting him. As he champs at the bit to get back to campaigning and to trying to revive an economy (under the delusion that you can do so when thousands are sick and hospitals are overflowing), other political leaders are emphatic that we are not going back to business as usual anytime soon, let alone by April 12.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, for example, told Business Insider on Wednesday, “I think this is at least two months. And be prepared for longer.” Arguing for evidenced-based decisions, he warned, “Giving people false hope will crush their spirits and will kill more people.”
Likewise, in Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) made clear the rest of the school year in his state might be scrubbed and that he would only lift instructions when the evidence warranted a relaxation of social distancing. “These were not easy decisions but my experience has been involved in public office for many, many years and when I’ve made mistakes and I look back on it, it’s been when I didn’t have enough facts,” he said during an interview on Wednesday. “So we try to get all the facts, try to consult with the right people, try to really ask a lot of questions and I continue every day to ask questions and to try to get the information. . . . I’m the one that’s responsible for making sure that we’re as safe as we can be in Ohio. So, kind of, the buck stops with me whether other states do it or not, we need to do what we need to do.”
The message from these and other political leaders around the country could not be more clear: We should ignore Trump and make decisions based on health data. Former vice president Joe Biden’s senior adviser and the former Ebola czar Ronald A. Klain under President Barack Obama was blunt on just this point:
"Donald Trump walked away from the decision to protect the country, he left that in the hands of governors. He's not gonna be the one who decides when the country reopens. but, before we can all do our jobs, he has to do his" - @RonaldKlain w/ @NicolleDWallace pic.twitter.com/N3SJ98edba— Deadline White House (@DeadlineWH) March 25, 2020
In short, Trump may be trying to strong-arm mayors and governors, but it is he who looks isolated, reckless and uncaring.
Finally, by so brazenly highlighting his own political desires, Trump leaves himself open to a devastating attack from Biden, the Democratic front-runner. Biden, at his virtual news conference on Wednesday, hit Trump for picking an arbitrary date to reopen the country. “It would be a catastrophic thing to do for our people and for our economy if we sent people back to work just as we were beginning to see the impact of social distancing take hold,” he said. When Biden starts making the case that Trump is willing to see people die to get reelected, his best evidence will be Trump’s own words.
In sum, Trump, ever desperate for approval, is in fact making himself look small and selfish, encouraging state and local leaders to be even more outspoken and giving his opponent a juicy target. When the president’s horrifically misleading and false claims (that he had everything under control, that the response to the virus was a media “hoax” and that it was all a plot to undermine him) are spliced together and aired hundreds and thousands of times between now and Election Day in one Biden ad after another, we may come to see that the single most effective advocate for ousting Trump was Trump.