The worst possible crisis arrived in COVID-19, one that tugged at every weakness of the president and the nation. It demanded scientific literacy, discipline, trust in authority, sacrifice, and patience. And then another crisis arrived with the economic depression. And then another, with the brutal murder of George Floyd. Now more than 100,000 people are dead, more than 40 million are unemployed, and violent protests have spread across the country.

Trump is stuck in a vicious downward spiral. He is incapable of undertaking the policies necessary to address any of these three crises, so he grasps for actions that shock the senses—accusing journalists of murder, pulling out of the World Health Organization, trying to prosecute Obama-administration officials. These actions simply make matters worse, but he still doubles down again and again…

There is no way back from the Götterdämmerung in the remainder of the Trump era. The question facing responsible senior administration officials (there are several at the principal and deputy level), Republicans in Congress, and allied governments is not how to persuade Trump to do the right thing, but how to limit the damage so the government can be repaired after he is gone. This may mean not urging Trump to take action on crises even if it is merited; circumventing the president wherever possible; Republican governors declaring their independence from their party leader, trying to craft a bipartisan approach in Congress on foreign-policy issues such as competing with China in international institutions and protecting against Russian interference; and using distractions of their own to divert his attention from truly consequential decisions. Call it fortification—of constitutional democracy and America’s international interests. There are 231 long days with nothing but stormy weather left.