As US death toll tops 150,000, Trump sees himself as the victim

On the day in which the U.S. coronavirus death toll topped 150,000, Trump left little doubt whom he feels most sorry for: himself.
Image: Anthony Fauci, flanked by President Donald Trump, speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus at the White House
Anthony Fauci, flanked by President Donald Trump, speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus at the White House on April 22, 2020.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images
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By Steve Benen

A few weeks ago, the Washington Post had a good behind-the-scenes report on developments in the White House, where Donald Trump was annoying those around him with his “woe-is-me” attitude.

According to the reporting, the president had dispensed with "the usual pleasantries and greetings" when speaking privately with people, choosing instead to "cast himself in the starring role of the blameless victim" with those who interact with him.

That was in early July. In late July, Trump took his sense of self-victimization to the White House press briefing room.

President Trump devolved into self-pity during a White House coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, lamenting that his approval ratings were lower than those of two top government medical experts.

It started, oddly enough, with a question from a reporter, who asked about a tweet he promoted the night before questioning Dr. Anthony Fauci's honesty. Trump gave a long, rambling answer -- which included a series of errors -- before complaining about approval ratings.

"[Fauci's] got this high approval rating, so why don't I have a high approval rating with respect -- and the administration -- with respect to the virus? We should have a very high, because what we've done... So it sort of is curious: A man works for us -- with us, very closely, Dr. Fauci, and Dr. Birx also highly thought of. And yet, they're highly thought of, but nobody likes me. It can only be my personality. That's all."

On the day in which the U.S. coronavirus death toll topped 150,000, the American president appeared before the cameras and left little doubt whom he feels most sorry for: himself.

But let's not brush past the fact that Trump managed to say "nobody likes" him while whining about approval ratings. What surprised me about the comments is that the president generally prefers to pretend that he's wildly popular -- just ask him about boat parades -- and has a sterling approval rating in surveys only he can see.

Yesterday, however, overcome by self-pity, Trump slipped and told the truth about his public standing.