The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The one constant in Trump’s presidency: Tomorrow will be worse

President Trump outside the White House on Saturday. (Al Drago/For The Washington Post)

Whenever you are asked to name the lowest moment of the Trump presidency, one answer is almost always correct: Tomorrow.

As the nation ricochets between chaos and calamity, the one reliable constant is the near certainty that things will get worse.

On Friday night, President Trump commuted the sentence of longtime adviser Roger Stone, convicted by a jury of multiple felonies for lying to federal investigators to protect Trump in the Russia probe. Trump’s clemency came the same day Stone made the corrupt bargain explicit by saying he resisted “enormous pressure to turn on” Trump.

On Saturday, Trump’s White House launched a public broadside attempting to discredit its own chief infectious-disease expert, Anthony Fauci, because Fauci sounded renewed alarms about the coronavirus, which has killed at least 132,000 in the United States and is accelerating out of control. Then, on Sunday, as Florida reported a breathtaking 15,300 new cases of the virus in a single day, and other states reported overwhelmed hospitals and climbing death tolls, Trump tweeted a defense of his decision to play golf during his 276th visit to one of his golf clubs during his presidency.

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On Monday, Trump retweeted a TV clip in which one of his allies, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), accused the left of “cultural genocide,” an echo of white nationalists’ claims of “white genocide,” and saying “the organizers of Black Lives Matter, who pledge allegiance to the destruction of America, have a lot more in common with the Confederate generals that they hate than they would like to admit.” This followed Trump’s “white power” retweet and another instance of his campaign allegedly appropriating Nazi symbols.

Abuse of power, flagrant disregard for American lives and racist provocations — all in 72 hours. I had long feared the country couldn’t survive another four years of Trump’s assaults. Now, I worry whether it can survive another 190 days.

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Employers from United Airlines to Brooks Brothers are retrenching, while states confront a renewed threat of lockdowns — a direct result of Trump’s push to reopen the economy without adequate safeguards. While other countries are keeping the virus in check, this country now faces a protracted downturn. Incredibly, states still don’t have enough testing and protective equipment. This time, Trump can’t blame China.

Nearly 68 percent of Americans say the country is heading in the wrong direction, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. Even half of Republicans say so. Trump’s own niece has written a book about the president’s unfitness. Democratic opponent Joe Biden is now tied with or ahead of Trump in Florida, Texas and Arizona. And Trump, facing another potential attendance debacle at a rally in Portsmouth, N.H., on Saturday, called off the event. He blamed the postponement on a tropical storm, but the storm hadn’t been forecast to hit Portsmouth, and the weather was dry.

Trump is lashing out every which way: at allies who privately built a section of border wall in Texas (it’s in danger of toppling because of erosion), at “RINO” Republicans who condemned Trump’s Stone commutation, even at Fox News (“the Radical Left has scared Fox into submission”).

Meanwhile, he warns the media about a Biden presidency: “Is this what you want for your President??? With no ratings, media will go down along with our great USA!” Trump supposes journalists are driven by the same thing that motivates him: not the national interest, but ratings.

This motivation helps to explain a president who is so careless he doesn’t check for typos before tweeting to 83 million people about a “Federal Monumrnt”; so reckless that he’s pressing the Food and Drug Administration to bless hydroxychloroquine again even though the preponderance of evidence says it’s dangerous; so unfeeling that he would force schools to reopen without giving them adequate funds to protect teachers and children; so corrupt that, even as he frees Stone, his administration returns former lawyer Michael Cohen to prison because Cohen refused to stop working on a book critical of Trump; and so unpatriotic that his administration lifted a ban — designed to protect U.S. troops — on foreign sales of gun silencers after a lobbyist for the cause joined the White House staff, the New York Times reports.

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All that, too, was in the past few days alone.

Some tell me they are weary of hearing about Trump’s abuses and they no longer are surprised by his outrages du jour. I share their weariness — I feel as though I’ve been a coroner working one car wreck after another for five years — but we can’t afford to look away until he is dispatched so overwhelmingly that his inevitable attempt to declare the election stolen won’t fly. Our very survival depends on it.

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Even as the number of U.S. coronavirus cases passes 3 million, President Trump has repeatedly played down covid-19’s toll on the country. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Jonathan Newton / Washington Post/The Washington Post)

Read more:

Karen Tumulty: Listen to Fauci even if Trump doesn’t. It could be the difference between life and death.

Henry Olsen: Never Trumpers are Democrats in Republican clothing

Robert Mueller: Roger Stone remains a convicted felon, and rightly so

Ruth Marcus: Imagine a more corrupt use of the clemency power than Trump’s Roger Stone commutation

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot. New federal data shows adults who received the updated shots cut their risk of being hospitalized with covid-19 by 50 percent. Here’s guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.

New covid variant: The XBB.1.5 variant is a highly transmissible descendant of omicron that is now estimated to cause about half of new infections in the country. We answered some frequently asked questions about the bivalent booster shots.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people. Nearly nine out of 10 covid deaths are people over the age 65.

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