Donald Trump's strained relationship with the reality of the coronavirus pandemic has managed to get worse. This was clearly evident in Thursday night's debate, when the president boasted to the public, "We're rounding the turn. We're rounding the corner. It's going away."
That day, according to NBC News' tally, the United States set a daily record for coronavirus cases. The next day, it broke the record again. Americans are not only seeing a third peak; we're also seeing the highest peak to date.
What's more, as the nation's infections totals climb to unseen heights, the fatality numbers are starting to climb, and hospitalizations have pushed many facilities across the country to the brink.
And it's against this backdrop that Trump said at a Friday night rally, "We're rounding the corner beautifully." The Republican echoed the message, over and over again, throughout the weekend, assuring supporters that the pandemic is "going away."
The president also expects people to believe that there's a "fake news media conspiracy" and a "corrupt media conspiracy," in which independent news organizations are secretly "coordinating" coverage, alerting the public to pandemic developments as part of a scheme to undermine the Republicans' 2020 ticket.
In fact, Trump has increasingly come to an extraordinary conclusion: he'd prefer it if we all just stopped talking so much about the deadly pandemic. Here, for example, was the Republican incumbent in Florida on Friday:
"All [Joe Biden] talks about is COVID, COVID, COVID, because they want to scare people."
At a brief Q&A with reporters in Ohio, the president went so far as to accuse a reporter of using the word "case" -- as in, coronavirus cases -- as part of an underhanded plan to "scare people."
And here was the president with a related message soon after:
"That's all I hear about, now. That's all I hear. Turn on television, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID. A plane goes down, 500 people dead, they don't talk about it. COVID, COVID, COVID. COVID."
In reality, of course, there was no such plane crash. But let's say this weren't an exaggerated hypothetical. Imagine if there really had been a crash that killed 500 people. In fact, let's also imagine that there were two plane crashes of such magnitude, leaving 1,000 people dead in a single day. And then imagine this happened day after day for months, as the person responsible for overseeing public safety asked the public to believe there is no problem, other than a "corrupt media conspiracy."
How long would that person keep his job?