Trump takes over the virtual public square
The pandemic means President Donald Trump has people where he wants them: at home watching him on television as a captive audience. His likely opponent, Joe Biden, is confined and chained in a virtual political dungeon -- his Delaware basement.
Count on Trump to pounce on the COVID-19 crisis for a path to victory in November. The cunning deed is almost done. The noise of American democracy is silenced while his volume has been turned up.
City dwellers in the book-learning, HBO-watching brunch set: You scoff at the president at our peril. We should know by now Trump is lethal, not laughable. Americans are dying by the thousands, and we can't change the channel.
Politics is now a one-man show in the spring of a presidential election year. All the world's a screen, with an inescapable solo player.
Don't think he's not enjoying this Shakespearean tragedy.
For days without end, Trump's the title character speaking his lines, looming large in our emptied lives. The body politic -- that's us -- is a patient with weak vital signs and a faint heartbeat.
If Trump's mission to destroy the post office succeeds, the body's circulation will be practically paralyzed. Voting by mail would vanish in the shadow of a public health crisis. Clever scheme.
Trump appealed to angry right-wing protestors to "liberate" Michigan, Virginia and Pennsylvania, defying governors' stay-at-home orders. That's an extraordinary act for an American president, but perhaps it's a hint of things to come.
Daily news briefings are not brief and hold little news. They relentlessly remind us who's boss. The president has "absolute authority." As always, Trump addresses his half of the American people, sure he can conquer the divide.
Trump uses the ample free media time to brandish political weapons and messages, to lump China, Biden and the coronavirus together, vilifying them all as one.