You can understand why Republicans are desperate to change the topic. Three million more Americans filed unemployment claims last week, bringing the unemployment numbers to 36.5 million, a stunning figure. Republicans are stuck defending their opposition to more aid, the death toll inches toward 90,000, and President Trump’s handling of the pandemic is getting lousy ratings. (CBS News reports: “President Trump’s handling of the outbreak continue to drop from March and are now the lowest he has received. Today, 43% say he’s doing a good job, 5 points lower than three weeks ago and 10 points lower than in March.”)

Rather than change their unpopular positions or govern competently, Trump and his flunkies are resorting to increasingly incoherent conspiracy theories. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can see his majority slipping away. (The latest bad news: North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr’s stock deals are reportedly under investigation by the FBI for insider trading.) McConnell’s answer to the pandemic is to shield businesses from lawsuits. Not a crowd-pleaser. What does he do then? Accuse President Barack Obama of leaving the country with no game plan (more than three years ago).

Put aside that blaming your predecessor more than three years into a presidency is simply pathetic; in this case, it is not even true. The Post’s Glenn Kessler cries foul (or Pinocchio!): “McConnell is wrong to say the Obama administration left ‘no game plan’ to deal with a pandemic; the Obama team crafted a detailed document setting forth questions and policies that should be considered, as well as put in place programs that might have helped spur action sooner,” Kessler writes. “The Trump administration ignored that document and pursued its own course when confronted with a once-a-century health crisis.”

However wrong, at least McConnell’s distraction of the day is explainable. Trump cannot even articulate what his made-up conspiracy — which alleges the Obama administration tried to frame top Trump officials, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, during the Russian collusion investigation — is all about. Mediaite captured Trump’s hilarious attempt to explain the issue in what was supposed to be a softball interview by Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo:

“It was the greatest political crime in the history of our country,” Trump said — despite National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone stating that the unmasking was approved through traditional channels. “If I were a Democrat instead of a Republican, I think everybody would have been in jail a long time ago. And I’m talking with 50 year sentences. It is a disgrace what’s happened. This is the greatest political scam, hoax, in the history of our country.”
“It is the biggest political scandal we’ve ever seen,” Bartiromo reassured the president.
“People should be going to jail for this stuff.”

“Explain to our audience what this means,” Bartiromo implored. Peter Strzok! Lisa Page! An “insurance policy” to take Trump out! Huh?! Cut to commercial. Even for the mainstream media willing to give credence to just about any crackpot conspiracy the Trump administration throws out, there should be a floor: If Trump cannot even explain the conspiracy, the media should not cover it — other than to say Trump is becoming frantic about his reelection.

McConnell and Trump are right about one thing: The Republicans are in deep trouble. “Today there is more than a one-in-three chance that Democrats will win a trifecta in November, the White House, the Senate and the House,” writes pollster Charlie Cook. (If you think that is rash, follow the money. “Big money donors are rushing to support Democrats in competitive U.S. Senate races as they sense an opportunity to take back the chamber from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans,” CNBC reports. “These wealthy fundraisers are targeting Republican-held seats in Maine, Colorado, North Carolina and Arizona that are seen as toss-ups this fall.”)

Rather than run after each shiny object the Republicans toss in front of them, the media would do well to focus on the real story: Covid-19 is ravaging the country, and Republicans are in all likelihood going to be held responsible.

Watch the latest Opinions video:

Read more: