It was just before 9am and the sky was overcast when a small group of reporters were suddenly ushered through the White House’s south portico. They gathered in the diplomatic reception room, once home to Franklin Roosevelt’s “fireside chats”, and stared at a desk with pen, documents and the presidential seal.
Donald Trump strode in, wearing a black bomber jacket and white shirt unbuttoned at the top, and settled down beneath a portrait of George Washington. He signed a congressional emergency spending bill to combat the coronavirus for $8.3bn – more than three times what the president himself had requested – and held it up to a chorus of clicking cameras.
It has not gone away.
A week later, coronavirus cases in the US have soared past 1,300, with at least 38 deaths. The stock market suffered its worst percentage drop since the 1987 Wall Street crash. On Wednesday night alone, Trump announced a travel ban on most of Europe during an Oval Office address, the National Basketball Association suspended its season and it emerged the Hollywood actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson had tested positive. The New York Post’s front page headline declared: A world turned upside down.
Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, said: “He’s an idiot. He’s handled it horribly. When things are rough, you want somebody who can exude confidence and competence and Trump does not do that.
“We’ve been incredibly lucky. For the last three years, there was nothing big going on that had a real bearing on the lives of the ordinary American. This does.” read more…no pay wall