Over the past two weeks, President Trump’s overall approval rating and specifically approval of his handling of the Chinese virus have been spiking. You would think that most people would view this as good thing, I mean, in the middle of a crisis, having faith in leadership is better than not having faith in leadership, right? For many on the left, though, these numbers are cause for consternation.
Here’s a not particularly sane response from supposed one-time conservative Ana Navarro:
Who are these 51% of Americans who approve of the way this lying, narcissistic, science-denying, petty, partisan, infantile, intellectual wasteland, lame excuse for a President with the vocabulary of a 4 year-old (apologies to 4 year-olds), is mishandling this crisis? Really. https://t.co/pOM3zZCo0h
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) March 27, 2020
Chiming in from the world of entertainment is Alyssa Milano, with a brief but amusing take:
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) March 27, 2020
Some, like Nate Silver, see this as a simple fluke, a display of sympathy from some Democrats and Independents.
Yeah this seems important and suggests that a lot of Trump's approval bounce comes from Dems and indies who are trying to express sympathy at a time of national crisis but have no intention of voting for him. https://t.co/fnUhMd8wCp
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) March 28, 2020
There are plenty more examples, but suffice it to say, to those for whom hating Trump has become the passion of a lifetime, the president’s relative popularity is infuriating. It is also confounding to them, and it’s worth thinking about why.
Trump’s initial response to virus, in late January and into February, was not great. He did seem to be downplaying what we know now to be a cataclysmic crisis, but he was far from alone in that. Let’s remember that as recently as March 2, when Trump’s response was getting on a firmer footing, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was urging Gothamites to get out there and go to the movies. Hizzoner’s pivot to taking this seriously happened far later than Trump’s, and with dire consequences for the city he mismanages.
Back on March 6, I penned an article urging the president to stop talking about the virus. This was a day or so after he remarked he “had a hunch” that the mortality rate would be low. That didn’t turn out to be so wrong. My advice at that time was that he should allow predictable Mike Pence and his assembled team of experts be the lodestar guiding us out of the crisis. To a large degree, that is what Trump has done.
The president hasn’t taken himself out of the spotlight entirely; he plays the role of cheerleader in opening remarks during most of the daily press conferences, but then passes the mic, as the Beastie Boys might say, to Pence and the pros. Those pros, Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx in particular, have brought some solace and comfort to a confused and frightened public.
And what is the result? Now networks like CNN and MSNBC are saying they won’t air the press conferences. Imagine that: the nation’s leading experts are trying to talk to the American people and leftist media idiots want to cut it off.
For Trump supporters, this is all obviously delicious. But that really isn’t the point. The point is that in a time of national crisis, Trump has changed his behavior and risen to the challenge. Our friends on the left either can’t or refuse to see this.
But the American people do. And they are the ones who decide the fate of Trump’s reelection chances, not the bobbleheaded pundits that people PBS, CNN, and MSNBC.
This is not a time to peddle politics, but we will of course. For those counting on Joe Biden’s confused and weird monologues in front of his bookshelf, the knives are coming out for Trump. The election is now about one thing and one thing only: The response to this virus.
So far, so good for Trump. Democrats are scrambling, confused, and unsure how to fight back. Maybe they shouldn’t be fighting. But this is where we are. This is the ultimate test of Trump, and it will decide his legacy.