Donald Trump Went on TV and Tried to Blame His Own Failures on Everyone Else. It Didn’t Go Well.

Ding dong, it is eight o’clock in the east and today, like so many days in the recent past, that means that the leader of the free world strutted into the White House press briefing room and delivered an update about the pandemic gripping our nation. Why? To soothe his people, allay the fears rumbling in their bellies and the anxieties echoing in their bones, and to—dammit all—just get out the truth.
What is that truth? Something about how things aren’t his fault and that states are a board game?

Trump on state-by-state reopening: “I call it: a beautiful puzzle. You have 50 pieces. All very different…But when it’s all done…a very beautiful picture.”
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) April 16, 2020

Trump repeated what’s been the Trump line for this last little bit of time that the country will reopen soon because it wasn’t built to be closed and everyone is clamoring to hangout in groups again.

Trump: “America wants to be open and Americans want to be open.”
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) April 16, 2020

He convened a council of plutocrats to advise on said opening, but the ultimate reality is that he doesn’t have the authority to lift quarantine restrictions.

This is, again, Trump suggesting he has made a decision to let states do something they don’t need his permission to do. (He could have tried in various ways to make governors’ lives difficult, but he never had the power to lift their restrictions.)
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) April 16, 2020

Earlier in the day, the White House released some guidelines about when it would be good to reopen. These are suggested notes to governors. Apparently they weren’t well received.

This isn’t a plan. It’s barely a powerpoint.— No provision to ramp up testing— No standard on levels of disease before opening (“down” is a direction, not a level)— No protections for workers OR customers
— Ronald Klain (@RonaldKlain) April 16, 2020

Trump went on tonight to tout his incredible progress—unbelievable progress, the best progress in the history of the world—that allows these states, all very different, all very individual puzzle pieces, to reopen on their own schedule. And he said that it’s such impressive progress that he thinks 29 states will reopen soon—though he didn’t name them—but his position cannot be reconciled with one stubborn reality: The country needs more testing to open back up. But! But! But! Testing has actually declined in the last week! As Politico explained on Tuesday:

The number of coronavirus tests analyzed each day by commercial labs in the U.S. plummeted by more than 30 percent over the past week, even though new infections are still surging in many states and officials are desperately trying to ramp up testing so the country can reopen.

Testing is the key. Testing is the silver bullet. We have be told for weeks that it is being scaled up; indeed, if you woke someone in the night and asked them what “incredible progress” means they would very likely  tell you that it means more testing.
So how do you square that circle? How do you make that work?
I don’t know the answer. And I didn’t see one in this press conference.
What I did see is this: someone trying to lay the foundation to blame everyone else. To blame governors, China, the wind, the willows, and the lilies that did not labor or spin:

yes it’s all about positioning blame/credit
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) April 16, 2020

This is not a coordinated, national response. The message is: governors, you’re on your own. As Trump put it, it’s a beautiful 50-piece puzzle.
— Laura McGann (@lkmcgann) April 16, 2020