Trump apologists say that before covid-19, all was well. “All” means only economic metrics: An American is supposedly Homo economicus, interested only in consumption, to the exclusion of civic culture. And never mind a pre-pandemic $1 trillion deficit — at full employment.

Such apologists insist that Democratic administrations jeopardize prosperity. So, these apologists are not merely projecting their one-dimensional selves onto their more well-rounded compatriots, they are ignoring 120 years of inconvenient data (as noted by Jeff Sommer in the New York Times): “Since 1900 the stock market has fared far better under Democratic presidents, with a 6.7 percent annualized return for the Dow Jones industrial average compared with just 3.5 percent under Republicans.”

Richard M. Nixon’s “imperial presidency” included Ruritanian White House uniforms, which did not survive nationwide snickering. Ford’s presidential modesty produced reports of something that was remarkable only because it was remarked upon: At breakfast, Ford popped his own English muffins into the presidential toaster. Forty-six years later, an exhausted nation is again eager for manifestations of presidential normality.