One of the persistent challenges White House officials have faced in recent years is capturing and maintaining Donald Trump's interest in important subjects. In March, aides appeared to have some success convincing the president that the coronavirus crisis was significant: Trump told reporters at the time that he considered himself "a wartime president."
The trouble, of course, is that sometimes wars take a while -- and Trump has the attention span of a fruit fly. Reflecting on what went wrong with the White House's pandemic response, the New York Times reported over the weekend:
"The president got bored with it," David Carney, an adviser to the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, a Republican, said of the pandemic. He noted that Mr. Abbott directs his requests to [Vice President Mike Pence], with whom he speaks two to three times a week.
The article added that Trump currently seems "less interested in the specific challenges the virus presents and is mostly just frustrated by the reality that it has not disappeared as he has predicted."
There's ample reporting to bolster the idea that Trump "got bored with" the crisis.
The Washington Post reported last week, for example, that aside from asking about vaccine updates, the president "has expressed little interest in the specifics" of the federal response to the pandemic.
Over the weekend, a separate Post report cited members of his team saying Trump has been "committing less of his time and energy" to the coronavirus crisis. One adviser added that the president is "not really working this anymore. He doesn't want to be distracted by it. He's not calling and asking about data. He's not worried about cases."
I'm fascinated by the idea that Trump could see a deadly pandemic wreaking havoc on his own country, and draw the conclusion that he shouldn't be "distracted" by it -- as if there were other, more pressing matters demanding his attention.
An Associated Press report added on Saturday that the president has "taken an increasingly hands-off approach to the coronavirus crisis in recent days."
Or put another way, the nation's "wartime president" had no idea combating the virus would take several months, so he's effectively gone AWOL.