Let’s just start with the sourcing for this story and we’ll get to the claims being made in a moment:
The New York Times interviewed more than a dozen people who speak or interact with the president frequently, including current and former White House aides, campaign advisers, friends and associates. Most spoke on condition of anonymity to candidly discuss internal White House affairs, and to avoid retribution. They would like to see him win again, but say they’re struck by how his demeanor has shifted during this latest dire threat to his presidency.
There are a few named sources including the Mooch:
“He is the modern L.B.J., where everything has gone wrong and none of his skill sets are effective at what’s gone wrong,” said Anthony Scaramucci, who served as the White House communications director for one of the briefest periods on record — 11 days. Though he has since publicly denounced the president, Mr. Scaramucci has known Mr. Trump personally for years and remains friendly with some White House officials.Nothing Mr. Trump has tried so far, Mr. Scaramucci said, has changed the narrative about his presidency, or shoved broader concerns about racism and the spread of the virus aside in news coverage.
“That’s why I know he doesn’t like the job,” Mr. Scaramucci said.
Going to Scaramucci for an anti-Trump quote is pretty low-hanging fruit at this point. Just today we learned that Scaramucci is supporting and donating to a pro-Biden super PAC:
A group of Republicans opposed to President Donald Trump, including some who served in his administration, is launching a super PAC to mobilize disaffected GOP voters to back his opponent, Joe Biden.
Right Side PAC, led by Matt Borges, former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, will target voters in battleground states with direct mail, phone calls and digital messaging promoting Biden’s moderate record and character. Skybridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci, who served for 10 days as Trump’s White House communications director, is advising and donating to the effort.
The Times might as well ask Rick Wilson what he thinks. But the gist of the piece is that Trump doesn’t seem to be focused on a second term, even as his aides have warned he could lose the election if he doesn’t become more disciplined:
In a recent meeting with his top political advisers, President Trump was impatient as they warned him that he was on a path to defeat in November if he continued his incendiary behavior in public and on Twitter…
Mr. Trump pushed back against his aides. “I have to be myself,” he replied, according to three people familiar with the meeting. A few hours later, he posted on Twitter a letter from his former personal lawyer describing some of the protesters as “terrorists.”
…the president is acting trapped and defensive, and his self-destructive behavior has been so out of step for an incumbent in an election year that many advisers wonder if he is truly interested in serving a second term.
I don’t know who they spoke to but I’m sure there are some people who genuinely believe this. That said, I don’t think it’s an unbiased portrait of Trump’s position or his recent efforts. His executive order on policing, for instance, was seen as a step in the right direction even by some critics. But NBC News highlighted an activist calling it “breadcrumbs.”
The point is that Trump is doing things which seem designed to make a case for his reelection but the major media is so clearly biased in its coverage that they see nothing but failure all the time. I suspect some journalists see a tweet like this and think it’s unhinged and a sign the president is losing it:
But I think we’ll find out that the vast majority of Americans agree with Trump on this point, even if the national media considers it reactionary in this moment.
Also, this entire story is completely at odds with the big story out today about Bolton’s book. According to Bolton, 100% of everything Trump has done, including his talks with President Xi, have been all about getting re-elected.
So which is it? Is Trump focused on re-election and nothing else or is he so unfocused on it that aides think he doesn’t want a 2nd term. The answer seems to be both or either. Don’t expect the media to try to work out which story is true. It’s almost as if they don’t really care so long as the news is bad for Trump.