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Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump plays golf at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., on Nov. 21, 2020.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

As G20 focuses on coronavirus pandemic, Trump plays golf

The weekend's developments offered fresh evidence that Trump doesn't want to do the job; he simply wants to have the job.


By all accounts, Donald Trump hasn't attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting since the spring, and according to a Reuters report, the president has no plans to attend any related meetings in the coming weeks.

With this in mind, perhaps it's not too surprising that there was a G20 summit over the weekend, and when it was time to discuss the global coronavirus pandemic, the outgoing Republican president didn't seem interested. The New York Times reported over the weekend:

On Saturday, Mr. Trump was not listed as a participant at a sideline event at the conference on pandemic preparedness and response. Speakers at the event included President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. Mr. Trump, however, played golf at his club in Virginia, his fifth day there since the election, whose results he is still contesting despite no evidence to support his claims. Mr. Trump was back at Trump National Golf Club on Sunday afternoon for his sixth tee time.

The same article added, "The lack of more significant initiatives underscored how difficult it is for the G20 to carry out an agenda when the United States is indifferent — Mr. Trump skipped part of the summit to play golf — or even hostile to many of its positions, even during a pandemic that has killed more than 1.3 million people globally."

The outgoing American president did manage to acknowledge the pandemic late Saturday in a tweet, but only to complain about news coverage: "The Fake News is not talking about the fact that 'Covid' is running wild all over the World, not just in the U.S."

First, I don't know why he put "Covid" in quotes, though Trump has long struggled to understand how quotation marks work. Second, this seemed to be an implicit acknowledgement that the Republican agrees that the pandemic is "running wild" in the United States, though he seemed a little too eager to downplay the significance of this fact by pointing to rising infection rates elsewhere.

Or put another way, Trump doesn't care about addressing the crisis; he cares about trying to avoid blame during the crisis.

An unrelated Washington Post report added yesterday, "The denouement of the Trump presidency is largely playing out without Trump. He is no longer pretending to embrace parts of the job that he never liked, some advisers say."

Things like attending pandemic briefings and talking to global officials about pandemic preparedness are obviously examples of "parts of the job that he never liked." Trump is, after all, a post-policy president, indifferent to the substance of governing, even during a crisis.

But it makes it all the more jarring that he's fighting desperately to keep his job, even if that means nullifying election results in his own country. The weekend's developments offered fresh evidence that Trump doesn't want to do the job; he simply wants to have the job.