Trump, loyalty, and "The Godfather"

As for Donald Trump, those who cover politics seem not fully in touch with how much his own voters disapprove of him. I’ve written of this before. Reporters watch the rallies, see the cheers, perceive a cult. Some of it is. Much of it isn’t.

I was in the car on a long ride with a friend who will vote for Mr. Trump when the story of Bob Woodward’s book broke. I read her the reported highlights from my phone. The president had been briefed in January on how bad the pandemic was, and he misled the public. I asked my friend if it surprised her. She looked at me sidelong as she drove: “No. He has no integrity!” I pressed: “But lying to the public on such a grave issue . . .”

“What was his reason?” my friend asked. “He didn’t want panic?” The report didn’t say, but I guessed it was because he didn’t want to spook markets and endanger his re-election. “Of course,” she said, nodding. Later I asked if the story might shake her intention to vote for him. No, she said. Later still I learned her guess had been right: Mr. Trump told Mr. Woodward he didn’t want a panic.