So much for all the commercials and debate quips about preparedness and competence. But it’s hard not to think that it was always going to be this way. Sooner or later Trump was bound to abandon even the pretense of caring about this virus. The middle of the Venn diagram of Trump supporters and Americans who are still concerned about what Chinese language media initially called “Wuhan pneumonia” is probably not empty, but it is insufficiently occupied to prevent him from doing what he has wanted to do for months anyway…

It is not entirely clear to me that this is about winning anymore. What we are seeing is Trump unbound, determined “Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent,” a politician who is trying, perhaps hopelessly, to make support for him some kind of life-affirming existential gesture.

He can’t help himself. He might alienate his Republican colleagues and his own campaign staff. He might appear to wheeze and gasp for air on the steps of the White House. But he needs the crowds and he needs this campaign and all the shrieking it will inspire. He needs the affection of his most enthusiastic supporters, who love him in a way that we have not seen a president loved in this country perhaps since John F. Kennedy. Above all, I think, he needs a sense of transcendent purpose in his life, a feeling that all the long wasted years of hucksterism add up to something noble and even beautiful.