Analysis by Kevin Liptak, CNN
Updated 9:29 AM ET, Sat May 30, 2020
(CNN)On Monday, as the nation marked Memorial Day, President Donald Trump mocked his campaign rival for wearing a face mask. On Wednesday, as the national death toll from coronavirus reached a wretched milestone, Trump and his family flew to Florida in an attempted focus on space travel. By Friday, as smoke was lifting in Minneapolis after a night of racial unrest, he announced the United States would withdraw from the World Health Organization.
In between, there was a dark suggestion of murder, false conspiracies about voting through the mail, a fight over where to hold his nominating convention and a dramatic escalation of ill will with the very social media platform that facilitated almost all the other diversions in the first place.
Trump’s efforts to change the subject at moments of peril have been a hallmark of his entire career in politics and, when successful, a constant source of frustration for his rivals. But rarely have they appeared more blatant or off-key than now, as a battered nation emerges from a pandemic that has left more than 100,000 dead and as racial unrest brews again.
That it is all happening five months before Trump faces a reelection in which polls show him trailing only heightens the sense of a leader in crisis, even as he insists he has a handle on both matters and attempts to proceed as planned with his presidency.