Dana Milbank of the Washington Post peers into Trump’s erratic and self-aggrandizing behavior, as tests for coronavirus continue to be few in number and very difficult to obtain for ordinary citizens.

Well blow me down and shiver me timbers.

As our ship of state founders in tempest-tossed seas, our captain has just likened himself to one of the most reviled villains in maritime history.
President Trump, disappointed that governors rejected his assertion that his “authority is total,” called them insurrectionists. “Tell the Democrat Governors that ‘Mutiny On The Bounty’ was one of my all time favorite movies,” he tweeted Tuesday. Operating from his customary position of near-total ignorance, he continued: “A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!”

Thus did the president find common cause with Captain William Bligh of the HMS Bounty, whose crew forced him off the ship in the South Pacific in 1789 because of his cruel and tyrannical ways. The real Bligh narrowly survived, but literature and Hollywood made him into a legendary antihero.

Trump threatens to adjourn Congress to make appointments

President Trump on April 15 threatened to use Article II of the Constitution to force Congress to adjourn to make recess appointments. (The Washington Post)
“I’ve never known a better seaman, but as a man, he’s a snake,” says Clark Gable as mutineer Fletcher Christian in the 1935 version. “He doesn’t punish for discipline. He likes to see men crawl.”
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In the 1962 film, a court-martial judge says: “Justice and decency are carried in the heart of the captain, or they be not aboard. It is for this reason that the Admiralty has always sought to appoint its officers from the ranks of gentlemen. The court regrets to note that the appointment of Captain William Bligh was, in that respect, a failure.”

Is it possible Trump is more self-aware than we thought?

Like Bligh, he is abusive. Unlike Bligh, he is a poor navigator. The Trump-as-errant-captain theme has been explored, delightfully, by novelist Dave Eggers in his recent allegory, “The Captain and the Glory”:

“He nudged the wheel a bit left, and the entire ship listed leftward, which was both frightening and thrilling. He turned the wheel to the right, and the totality of the ship, and its uncountable passengers and their possessions, all were sent rightward. In the cafeteria, where the passengers were eating lunch, a thousand plates and glasses shattered. An elderly man was thrown from his chair, struck his head on the dessert cart and died later that night. High above, the Captain was elated by the riveting drama caused by the surprises of his steering.”

So it is with our captain, who claims absolute authority but takes no responsibility. He announces he’s cutting off funding to the World Health Organization in the middle of the pandemic. He condemns the WHO for praising China’s transparency, even though he said in January he “greatly appreciates [China’s] efforts and transparency.” His conflicting messages about reopening the economy throw the country into confusion. He assembles so many coronavirus task forces that he will need another to keep track of them all. And after his long delayed and botched virus response, even now the number of tests in U.S. commercial labs is falling.

At Wednesday evening’s session, Trump turned the tiller randomly. After proclaiming the United States has “passed the peak” of the virus, he swerved into complaints about “partisan obstruction” holding up his nominees and threatened the never-before-tested “constitutional authority to adjourn both houses of Congress,” which would provoke another crisis in the middle of the pandemic.

He veered into complaints about the “disgusting” Voice of America and the “impeachment hoax.” He lurched into attacks on the World Trade Organization , various Democrats and governors generally, asserting that “we have the right to do whatever we want.” He accused the WHO of a conspiracy to hide the virus and boasted about his name going on government-issued relief checks: “People will be very happy to get a big fat beautiful check, and my name is on it.”

The ship has become accustomed to such unpredictable steering: He touts a virus treatment that so far shows more alarming side effects than efficacy. He announces virus-testing schemes that don’t exist. He talks about pardoning Joe Exotic. He blames everybody except his own administration, which is doing things very, very strongly and powerfully. “The Defense Production Act was used very powerfully, more powerfully than anybody would know, in fact, so powerfully that, for the most part, we didn’t have to officially take it out,” he proclaims.
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As the captain propounds powerful gibberish, the mutiny builds. Regional blocs make their own pandemic-recovery plans. Allies condemn his assault on the WHO. Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) tells Politico that Trump has been “very uneven.” Even Trump-friendly outlets such as Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page offer some criticism.

“WSJ is Fake News!” shouts the captain.

“What the hell is happening to @FoxNews?”

What’s happening, captain, is you’ve hit the rocks.