The Great Pretender Tugs on Superman’s Cape

Today, I want to lift up two op-eds.

Ross Douthat, Donald Trump Doesn’t Want Authority: The coronavirus crisis offered the president an opportunity to consolidate power. It turns out he only wants attention.

Douthat trenchantly points out the strong similarities between Orange Man and Victor Orban of Hungary—and the fundamental difference as well. Orban used the pandemic to consolidate his power, but Trump

showed no sense of the pandemic as anything save an inconvenience to be ignored, a problem to be wished away, an impediment to his lifestyle of golf and tweets and occasional stream-of-consciousness stemwinders. And when reality made ignoring it impossible, his only genuinely political impulse — the only impulse that related to real power and its uses — was to push the crucial forms of responsibility down a level, to the nation’s governors, and wash his presidential hands.

In this the coronavirus has clarified, once and for all, the distinctiveness of Trump’s demagogy. Great men and bad men alike seek attention as a means of getting power, but our president is interested in power only as a means of getting attention. …

So while both his critics and his allies imagined him, in different ways, as an American Orban — a subverter of democracy or a tough guy for tough times — the great crisis of his presidency has revealed the vast gulf that separates him not only from Hungary’s leader but from almost every statesman ever considered uniquely dangerous or uniquely skilled.

In the fourth year of this presidency the black comedy has finally given way to tragedy. But not because Trump suddenly discovered how to use his authority for dictatorial or democracy-defying purpose. Rather, because in this dark spring America needed a president capable of exercising power and found that it had only a television star, a shirker and a clown.

Eugene Robinson, Trump’s attempts to smear Obama could backfire spectacularly

In 2008, Obama’s historic triumph, the rate of black voter turnout nationwide essentially equaled white turnout for the first time in history. In 2012, black turnout actually exceeded white turnout, 66.6 percent to 64.1 percent, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center. But in 2016, while white turnout inched higher, black turnout fell to 59.6 percent — the first decline in a presidential election in two decades.

I’m not going out on a limb by positing that there is a unique and enduring bond between African American voters and the first African American president. When Trump yells “Obamagate!,” he’s strengthening that bond, not weakening it, and motivating black voters to turn out in the fall for Obama’s loyal wingman, Biden. …

I thought everyone knew you don’t tug on Superman’s cape. But apparently Trump still thinks you can get somewhere by spitting into the wind.