Trump obviously doesn’t care that over 72,000 people have died in America from Covid-19. He doesn’t care that the numbers of deaths from the disease in the minority communities are disproportionately high as compared to the rest of the country. He doesn’t care that small businesses in rural communities are being devastated and millions of low-wage workers are losing their jobs. What he does care about is the fact that these facts could hurt his chances for re-election and that the depiction of his incompetence, which is vividly on display on the level of a neon sign on the Las Vegas strip, is out there for the world to see and he’s being called out for it.
Case in point: a PAC called The Lincoln Project came out with an ad called “Mourning in America,” a play on the 1984 Reagan campaign ad touting how great things were, going after Trump and his blatant incompetence. One of the leaders of the PAC is George Conway, husband of Trump enabler Kellyanne Conway, and the most visible spokesperson for the conservative group. As expected, Trump went after the ad and Mr. Conway in his typical manner: a tweetstorm generated in the middle of the night. Mr. Conway noted the response in a column in the Washington Post:
In a four–tweet screed, he attacked me and my colleagues at the Lincoln Project as “LOSERS,” “loser types,” “crazed” and “a disgrace to Honest Abe.” About me, he said, “I don’t know what Kellyanne did to her deranged loser of a husband, Moonface, but it must have been really bad.” Ten hours later, on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews, Trump was still enraged, ranting about us for nearly two minutes in front of the media.
That’s all that matters to Trump, and being called out for his failings is the worst thing of all because it’s the truth. And the truth is what is driving him around the bend.
Now it all matters, painfully and concretely. Trump’s lying, his self-regard, his self-soothing, his lack of empathy, his narcissistic rage, his contempt for norms, rules, laws, facts and simple truths — have all come home to roost. Now he sees his poll numbers fall accordingly, and lashes out with ever-increasing anger. For deep in his psyche he knows the truth. Because he fears being revealed as a fake or deranged, he’ll call others fake or deranged. Because he fears losing, he’ll call them losers instead.
This isn’t anything new in the pathology of Trump and his followers. If it was purely an ideological or philosophical difference of opinion about political parties or how to lead the country, we’d survive it. We have in the past. But this time, it’s literally a matter of life and death.