President Donald Trump's response to the global pandemic that's caused a national health crisis in the United States—killing thousands and unemploying millions more—has been widely panned.
With his initial dismissals of the virus's threat, his administration's bungled testing rollout, and his erratic press briefings, over half of Americans disapprove of Trump's response and 54% find his press briefings frustrating.
This would be enough to make most stable leaders alter their course, but the Trump administration seems determined to double down, with Trump refusing to take the slightest responsibility for any of the response's flaws.
That's likely why the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) circulated a 57 page memo from Republican strategist Brett O'Donnell to GOP senators, advising them not to defend Trump's bungled response to the virus.
It reads in part:
"Note - don't defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban -- attack China"
While it cautions against defending Trump's response, it does say to echo the praise Trump has heaped upon himself for traverl restrictions he imposed on China.
The memo doesn't explicitly fault Trump's response, but for Trump and his campaign, only unconditional, unquestioning loyalty will do.
Trump political advisor Justin Clark said of the memo:
"Candidates will listen to the bad advice in this memo at their own peril. President Trump enjoys unprecedented support among Republican voters and everyone on the ballot in November will want to tap into that enthusiasm. The president's campaign, the RNC, and the NRSC are firmly on the same page here."
In the Trump campaign's fury at the contents of the memo, forced the NRSC to do exactly what the memo warned against: defend Trump's response.
NRSC spokesperson Kevin McLaughlin scrambled to promise there were no concerns that Trump's response was a hazard to down ballot Republicans.
"There is no daylight between the NRSC and President Trump. Senate Republicans have worked hand in glove with the Trump administration to ensure a highly effective federal response to [the virus]."
The incongruence generated ridicule from Democrats.
As for potential efforts by Republicans to distance themselves from Trump's response, many say that it's too late.
For a deeper look into Trump's ineptitude, check out A Very Stable Genius, available here.