For a brief moment, the President appeared more reasonable. He encouraged mask wearing. His tone at the daily press conferences was not as abrasive. He even questioned his tendency toward indulging Twitter rants.
The moment passed.
He tweeted out to suburban housewives, “Biden will destroy your neighborhoods and your American Dream!” He made clear he had no intention of attending funeral services for John Lewis. He doubled down on his dangerous promotion of hydroxychloroquine and gave a social media shoutout to a conspiracy kook “doctor” who believes that many basic gynecological conditions are caused by women having sex with demons. He sends a paramilitary unit of 114 officers to Portland and blusters that he’ll send “75,000” to quell the supposed “anarchy” in our cities.
Trump can only operate in one gear: arrogant, deceitful domination. He is unable to operate outside that bandwidth, even if he can play act an honest collaborator for a few days. As Roger Cohn in the New York Times aptly put it, Trump is no more than a “showman wielding nationalism, racism and violence as if the 20th century had no lessons.”
A 21st-century lesson cannot be emphasized enough: we are in the throes of someone well outside the human contract.