Has Trump really turned up the heat or have we just been sitting in his saucepan so long it just feels that way? My intuition tells me that both his supporters and critics have grown numb to his previous rhetorical excesses and need for him to cross new boundaries, violate new taboos, and break fresh panes of glass in order remain engaged. Then there’s the matter of his Trump’s recent dip in the polls, reportedly putting him in a “foul mood.” He knows he can’t charm his way back to better numbers, so he’s trying furiously to stay in the public eye by displaying more ferocity. And don’t forget the Biden problem. “Sleepy Joe,” as Trump often taunts him, has been hiding like a possum in his basement where Trump can’t get to him, and that’s got to frustrate him.

So he keeps harping on China as the responsible party for the 80,000-plus coronavirus deaths in the United States. While offering absolutely no proof for the charge, Trump obscures his own neglect of the pandemic and misdirects culpability to a foreign country. These techniques might not work on you, but that doesn’t bother Trump. His hardcore supporters are the target of the tweets, speeches, pressers and conspiracy theories. The more he does to make himself look persecuted and reviled by the “elites” and the press, the more heroic he appears to his base.