At about 7 p.m. (E.T.) this past Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci was welcomed onto the field at Nationals Park in D.C., where he had the honor of throwing out the first pitch at the first game of the major-league season. The pitch didn't go especially well, but it was nevertheless an acknowledgement of the infectious-disease expert's prominent role in our society right now.
About an hour earlier, Donald Trump stood in the White House press briefing room, and unprompted, told reporters, "I’ve agreed -- [New York Yankees President] Randy Levine is a great friend of mine from the Yankees, and he asked me to throw out the first pitch, and I think I’m doing that on August 15th at Yankee Stadium."
Four days later, the president changed course, announcing via Twitter that he actually plans to be busy on August 15th. The opening pitch will have to wait, he wrote, because of his "strong focus on the China Virus, including scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else."
As Trump lies go, this one was almost comical. The idea that the president, who spends much of his time watching television and playing golf, can predict three weeks in advance how busy he'll be with his official duties was obviously implausible.
So, what actually happened? The New York Times reported overnight:
Mr. Trump had not actually been invited on that day by the Yankees, according to one person with knowledge of Mr. Trump’s schedule. His announcement surprised both Yankees officials and the White House staff. But Mr. Trump had been so annoyed by Dr. Fauci’s turn in the limelight, an official familiar with his reaction said, that he had directed his aides to call Yankees officials and make good on a longtime standing offer from Mr. Levine to throw out an opening pitch. No date was ever finalized.
Can a story be both predictable and extraordinary at the same time?
It was absurd for Trump to pretend he'd been invited to appear at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 15. He made it a little worse when he made up a strange excuse for rescheduling.
But it was the president's motivation that's truly pitiful: Trump saw a member of his team receiving an invitation to throw out a pitch, so felt the need to effectively declare, "Everyone look at me! I'm going to throw a pitch, too!"
It would've been pathetic had Trump actually arranged the invitation. The fact that he reportedly made it all up makes it so much worse.