He seems to have been stung by criticism of his performance last week, when he suggested that disinfectant could be injected into the body to kill the virus. Matt Flegenheimer, a Times politics reporter, writes about why that comment appears to have struck a chord past statements have not:
President Trump’s self-assessment has been consistent.
“I’m, like, a very smart person,” he assured voters in 2016.
“A very stable genius,” he ruled two years later.
“I’m not a doctor,” he allowed on Thursday, pointing to his skull inside the White House briefing room, “but I’m, like, a person that has a good you-know-what.”
Mr. Trump’s performance that evening, when he suggested that injections of disinfectants into the human body could help combat the coronavirus, did not sound like the work of a doctor, a genius, or a person with a good you-know-what.
Even by the turbulent standards of this president, his musings on virus remedies have landed with uncommon force, drawing widespread condemnation as dangerous to the health of Americans and inspiring a near-universal alarm that many of his past remarks — whether offensive or fear-mongering or simply untrue — did not.
Mr. Trump’s name calling can be recast to receptive audiences as mere “counterpunching.” His impeachment was explained away as the dastardly work of overreaching Democrats. It is more difficult to insist that the man floating disinfectant injection knows what he’s doing.
The reaction has so rattled the president’s allies and advisers that he was compelled over the weekend to remove himself from the pandemic briefings entirely, at least temporarily accepting two fates he loathes: giving in to advice (from Republicans who said the appearances did far more harm than good to his political standing) and surrendering the mass viewership he relishes.