Very stable genius. Millions of Trump’s supporters aren’t blind to the president’s clownishness and ignorance. But they’ve been relatively indifferent to both, because they find the first entertaining and the second irrelevant to his overall performance. Who cares what a president knows about epidemiology, so long as the markets are up?

They care now. The coronavirus has exposed the falsehood of so many notions Trump’s base holds about the presidency: that experts are unnecessary; that hunches are a substitute for knowledge; that competence in administration is overrated; that every criticism is a hoax; and that everything that happens in Washington is B.S. Above all, it has devastated the conceit that having an epic narcissist in the White House is a riskless proposition at a time of extreme risk.

Will Trump’s declaration of a national emergency change this?

Maybe, and the president has a belated opportunity to demonstrate seriousness he has lacked so far. But nobody should forget that such seriousness would only be a function of political expediency. Should coronavirus recede in warmer weather, you can depend on Trump to declare his premature victory — not warn that winter is coming.