CDC/Planet Pix via ZUMA
Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States on the coronavirus outbreak:
Trump is highly concerned about the market and has encouraged aides not to give predictions that might cause further tremors….In a Twitter post, he misspelled the word “coronavirus” as “caronavirus” and wrote that two cable news stations “are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!”
….Privately, Trump has become furious about the stock market’s slide, according to two people familiar with the president’s thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal details. While he has spent the past two days traveling in India, Trump has watched the stock market’s fall closely and believes extreme warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have spooked investors, the aides said. Some White House officials have been unhappy with how Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has handled the situation, they said.
The good news, I guess, is that at least Trump is concerned about something. Eventually, he might decide that happy talk won’t save his bacon and he actually needs to do something substantive about the spread of the virus. The big questions are (a) how long this will take and (b) whether he can find someone competent to run this effort. I can’t think of any previous president that I’d be worried about on this score, but there you have it.
Trump has a simple—and surprisingly effective—approach to marketing: When someone else is in charge, everything is in terrible shape. When he’s in charge, everything is perfect. This is fairly benign when it applies to things that Trump has no control over—which is nearly everything—but not so benign when it interferes with things that Trump really does need to address. That’s what’s happening now. On the bright side, at least he hasn’t yet appointed Jared Kushner as our new coronavirus czar.