Trump often makes reference in his daily press briefings to the death toll in the US, which at about 45,000 represents about one-quarter of coronavirus deaths worldwide. But apart from some narrowly scripted remarks delivered in an uninterested monotone, Trump fails, day after day, to deliver expressions of sympathy for the loss of life, which remains on a grim trajectory. Instead his press briefings are more marked by attacks on opponents, whether Democrats, the media, China or the World Health Organization.

“He makes attempts at it usually when he’s reading prepared remarks, then he makes attempts at [empathy],” said Elaine Kamarck, founding director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution. “But frankly, he’s not very good at it, and he can’t sustain it. The minute he goes off script, he’s back to that pile of accusations, insecurities, false statements, and attacks.”…

Kamarck said: “You don’t have to draw the contrast between Trump and Reagan, which is stark enough. All you have to do every day is to draw the contrast between Donald Trump and Mike Pence.”