Does Trump actually want to win this election?

If the existence of the country itself is on the ballot in November, why not prepare better for the debates? Why not use Twitter exclusively for messages that advance his cause rather than detract from them? Why waste any time on petty animosities and distractions? Why not write down a health care plan and a Covid-19 plan to blunt Biden’s most potent issues?

Why not, in short, do at least a few things that are uncomfortable or un-natural in the cause of, you know, saving the country from imminent political destruction?…

Trump has waged a low-intensity campaign against masks, for no good reason. If masks and their more zealous advocates are annoying, they are also a low-cost, relatively easy intervention to diminish spread of the virus, and a popular one. By setting himself against masks, largely on aesthetic grounds, Trump further opened himself up to charges that he doesn’t take the virus seriously. Now, that case against him has even more political salience with his own illness and the White House outbreak.

Consider, on the other side of the ledger, how the economy is the top issue in the election and how Trump, by and large, leads on it. Still, there has been no sustained case that Biden’s program, including the largest tax increase in more than half a century, will hamper investment and growth. On what should be his foremost advantage, Trump has taken the famous James Carville adage and turned it on its head, “It’s everything else, stupid.”