That was the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was not an easy test, but it is precisely where our chief executive, who is neither a legislator nor a judicial backstop, is needed most. Trump’s initial mistake was to fumble the ability to establish a serious testing regime, the foundation from which contact tracing and targeted intervention would be built. From there, the president’s leadership did not much improve: He took to ridiculing mask-wearing, which may not be the silver bullet some treat it as, but it is far from useless. A coronavirus outbreak in the president’s inner circle, and then the vice president’s, suggests an administration resistant to learning its lesson or willing to model the behavior it recommends among the public, and the president’s continued public scorn for his own scientific advisers leaves the public confused and susceptible to less reliable sources of information.
I reject, of course, the asinine claim that every world leader is personally responsible for each COVID death in his or her country. But that does not absolve Trump of all of it.
I also disagree with the perceived threat posed by a Biden administration. The extreme direction in which his party is headed is clear. But it is less clear to me that a Joe Biden presidency would haplessly elevate those extreme elements. It is possible his nomination itself showed he has a few more allies than previously assumed. This hurts the case for Trump because it removes the professed urgency of his message: Apres moi, le deluge.