Before President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: ‘The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it’ Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE returned to the White House from Walter Reed, doctors warned that the powerful steroids he’d been administered could have a significant effect on a patient’s behavior. “We tell family members, especially for our older patients,” Dr. Negin Hajizadeh, critical care physician at Northwell Health, told the New York Times, “this may cause changes in eating habits and, in extreme cases, mania and impaired decision-making.”
Well, we don’t know about any changes in Donald Trump’s eating habits, but, steroid-related or not, we’ve certainly seen signs of impaired decision-making. For whatever reason, Trump’s been making a lot of dumb moves lately which are hurting, not helping, his chances for reelection.
It started, once he got home from the hospital. The first thing he did was refuse to participate in an Oct. 15 debate with Joe BidenJoe BidenNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter Trump narrows Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania: poll Florida breaks first-day early voting record with 350K ballots cast MORE — after the Presidential Debate Commission, not knowing when Trump might be able to safely reappear in public, had wisely decided to make it an online exchange. He wouldn’t “waste his time” with an online debate, Trump told Fox News. Whereupon Biden scheduled a town hall on ABC, and Trump countered by scheduling his own town hall on NBC the same night at the same time.
It was a dumb decision, that only helped Biden. According to Nielsen, the first presidential debate on Sept. 29 attracted 73.1 million viewers. The ABC/NBC town halls attracted a combined audience of only 27.5 million viewers — of which Biden, on ABC alone, gained 14 million viewers; and Trump, with three channels — NBC, MSNBC and CNBC — only 13.5 million. Biden beat Trump where it hurts the most: in TV ratings. And who made that dumb decision? Trump himself.
Second disaster. The day after Trump returned to the White House, without consulting congressional Democrats or Republicans, or his own Treasury secretary, Trump cancelled negotiations for a second stimulus package. Two days later, pummeled by opposition from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, as well as millions of American workers and small businesses who were counting on additional federal help to stay afloat in the age of COVID-19, Trump flip-flopped. But the damage was already done. Trump came across either as someone who didn’t know what he was doing or didn’t care. Bottom line: Trump destroyed any chance of a second stimulus bill and the economic boost it might have given his campaign. Who made that dumb decision? Trump himself.
Trump compounded that faux-pas by demanding that Republican Senators ignore what the majority of Americans wanted and rush to confirm Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettSenate GOP eyes Oct. 26 for confirming Barrett to Supreme Court GOP blocks Schumer effort to adjourn Senate until after election Overnight Defense: Supreme Court to hear case on diversion of Pentagon funds to border wall | Biden campaign cutting retired general from ad after objection | Trump’s arms control talks with Russia hit wall MORE to the Supreme Court before Nov. 3. In so doing, Trump only energized the Democratic base and further alienated suburban women because of Barrett’s extreme views on abortion and health care. Another dumb decision made by Trump himself.
Finally, after forcing White House doctors to give him a clean bill of health, Trump’s embarked on a blizzard of daily campaign rallies which even some of his closet campaign advisers privately admit are a total waste of time. He does nothing but throw red-meat to his supporters, who were going to vote for him anyway. There’s no outreach to independents or undecided voters. No message of plans for a second term. Not even Fox News carries Trump’s rallies anymore, because they are “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Except, of course, as superspreader events, exposing thousands of supporters to the risk of coronavirus: Trump’s dumbest, and most dangerous, decision of all.
With only two weeks to go, the wheels are coming off Trump’s campaign wagon. And all of his problems are self-inflicted.
Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”
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