President Trump doesn't seem to fully understand how the coronavirus has infected millions and claimed the lives of nearly 150,000 Americans.
That became painfully clear in an hour-long interview on "Fox News Sunday" with anchor Chris Wallace, when it was reported that Trump became "visibly rattled and at times hostile" as he struggled to explain why his administration has been unable to halt, or even to slow, the growing number of victims that the virus continues to infect.
Dodging answers about the pandemic's unstoppable spread across our country, Trump could say only that the mounting death rate "is what it is."
"In a season of remarkable public appearances by a politically wounded president, the Wallace interview was still extraordinary, in part because of the volley of false claims by Trump and aggressive, real-time fact-checking by his questioner," The Washington Post reported afterward.
When Wallace held up a chart that showed coronavirus cases had more than doubled from the spring peak in April, Trump replied: "If we didn't test, you wouldn't be able to show that chart. If we tested half as much, those numbers would be down."
But by "the president's logic, that assumes people contract the virus only if they test positive, ignoring the fact that many people are asymptomatic carriers and unknowingly spread the contagion without taking a test or being reported," the Post contended.
Notably, Wallace "explained to Trump that the number of tests has increased by 37% but the number of cases has shot up by 194%."
In response, Trump argued, "Many of those cases are young people that would heal in a day. They have the sniffles and we put it down as a test. Many of them -- don't forget, I guess it's like 99.7%, people are going to get better, and [in] many cases, they're going to get better very quickly."
But the Post countered that a growing number of Americans disapprove of Trump's handling of the pandemic. A new Post-ABC News poll found 38% approve of his performance and 60% disapprove. The same survey found Biden leading Trump by double digits nationally, 55% to 40%.
Elsewhere in the interview, Trump falsely declared, "I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world."
Wallace responded, "It's not true, sir. We had 900 deaths on a single day just this week."
Trump replied, "It came from China."
Then the topic turned to Trump's assertion that he might not accept the election results if he were to lose reelection.
Asked whether he considers himself a "good" or a "gracious" loser, the president replied that he doesn't like to lose.
Then he added: "You don't know until you see. It depends. I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election. I really do."
"Are you suggesting that you might not accept the results of the election?" Wallace asked.
"No," Trump replied. "I have to see."
When he was pressed later on whether he might not accept the results of the election, Trump declined to say. "I have to see," he said.
At a White House appearance Tuesday, it was a slightly different Trump who had hit the reset button on his coronavirus briefings. While he didn't wear a mask, he urged Americans to wear them, and to stay away from crowded bars.
"We're asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, get a mask. Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, his cantankerous infectious disease adviser, was finally getting through to him.
Unfortunately, Fauci, shortly before the briefing, told CNN that he had not been invited to it.
But, clearly, the pummeling Trump has been getting on his handling of the pandemic from all quarters has had an impact on him.
Infections and deaths were going through the roof, his approval polls were plunging, and likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden slammed him by saying, "He's quit on this country."
Trump is not known for expressing empathy for the misfortunes of others. But this week, he did say, "We mourn every precious life that's been lost."