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Trump hasn't 'changed his tune' on coronavirus. Anyone who tells you that doesn't know the president very well at all

This week, President Trump, Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci made sure we had little room for optimism left

John T. Bennett
Washington DC
Thursday 23 July 2020 20:15 BST
At least the baseball is back
At least the baseball is back (AFP via Getty Images)

If you’re anything like this correspondent, your head hurts – and has for a few weeks. But not from Covid-19. The epicenter is Washington.

I’ve had a low-grade rumble in my noggin ever since President Trump turned a (very brief) Hong Kong policy announcement into a full-fledged campaign rally.

He ranted and raved for nearly an hour, making false claim after false claim as he distorted the policy platform of his likely general election foe, former Vice President Joe Biden. As he does, he aired grievances and played the victim-in-chief.

(Thump, thump goes my head.)

Fast forward to Tuesday night, when the president revived his daily coronavirus briefings – but with a made-for-television swerve.

"It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better," the president said, shedding his Covid-19 happy talk before minutes later offering up this very un-Trumpian advice: "Get a mask. Whether you like the mask or not, get a mask. … They have an effect."

The cable news networks reacted like famished sharks devouring the chum Trump had left in the water. Anchors and guests marveled at his “new tone,” with major print publications devoting ample column inches the next morning to his “new approach.” Missing in many of these knee-jerk reactions: This president has done this before, only to revert to his combative, Covid-denying ways. We seem to have lost our recall. Don’t be fooled— Mount Saint Trump will erupt again. Soon.

Trump admits coronavirus will 'probably, unfortunately' get worse before it gets better

(Thump, thump.)

Eager to escape the Trump vortex, I scrambled for the remote, landing on a Major League Baseball exhibition contest featuring the World Series Champion Washington Nationals against their regional rivals, the Oriels of Baltimore. There were no fans, the buzz of the once-cursed home club defending its crown robbed from Washington baseball fans by the coronavirus – and the failed government response.

Then came Trump’s announcement of a deployment of federal police to three more American cities. Attorney General William Barr hijacked the logic train and headed at full speed for another universe with the line: “This rise is a direct result of the attack on the police forces and the weakening of police forces.”

An hour later, Trump was back in the briefing room, refusing to take very much blame for a virus outbreak that soon will have infected at least 4 million Americans and killed over 142,000. “The light is starting to shine," he said, returning to his happy talk. "We will get there very quickly."

But his top infectious disease expert and self-made international icon, Anthony Fauci, says the United States may never get rid of coronavirus.

(Thump, thump.)

He offered no scientific data to support his claim that school-aged children do not spread the virus, and Fox News anchor Brett Baier seemed perplexed when one of his top coronavirus advisers, Deborah Birx, was unable to back up the boss during a live interview moments later. What’s more, she repeatedly used hundreds of inside-the-Beltway buzzwords to “answer” straightforward questions.

(Thump, thump.)

There was no Nationals game Wednesday evening. The champs were resting up for their big Opening Day clash with the New York Yankees. But as I laid back on the sofa with an icepack on my again-throbbing head, I craved the crack of the bat, the description of a cutter in the dirt for a clutch strikeout – and, yes, even our local TV broadcast team, which goes to epic lengths to defend the home team.

So, as the “boys of summer” prepare to try squeezing in a 60-game regular season that could be suddenly derailed by a wave of players and coaches testing positive for Covid-19, let’s all sing the only song that might have a chance at cooling the national discourse.

Your correspondent has taken the liberty of adding a few lines, which hopefully capture this bizarre point in history – and the current class of “leaders” we have, for some reason, sent to this steamy swamp of an alleged capital city.

Take me out to the ball game

Where Fauci is throwing out the first pitch, ‘cuz like Trump, he’s so eager for fame

Take me out with the crowd

So I can forget Ted Yoho and AOC saying “f**kin’ bitch” so needlessly loud

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack

Pardon me while I vigorously disinfect each pack

I don't care if I never get back

Trump just can’t seem to get his campaign on track

Let me root, root, root for the home team

A scowl has replaced the president’s mischievous gleam

If they don't win, it's a shame

The Sun Belt is awash in Covid, it might cost him the game

For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out

But there’s no federal police raid Trump won’t tout

At the old ball game

Remember, Joe could soon leave his basement and come up lame.

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