In this case, the pandemic gives Trump exactly the “magic” he wants. With the simple expediency of not getting off his ass for months, Trump has scaled the coronavirus from disaster to disaster to an existential threat, none of which was predetermined. Just a few weeks ago, the news was full of stories of how countries like France, which had suffered so badly from the initial surge in the pandemic, were seeing another spate of new cases. Then these stories disappeared. This is because the French government, taking immediate action, has reduced its daily case rate by more than two-thirds in just a few weeks. But in the United States, the cases continued to explode precisely because Trump did less than nothing. Not only has he refused to issue new guidelines, but he has also undermined vaccine news with conversations about conspiracies while the head of his coronavirus task force has urged people to oppose state-set social distancing mandates.
As CNN notes, it may seem like a pretty big fire causing hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths, but it's not the only one Trump wants to set up. Trump is taking steps in Afghanistan, Iraq, and possibly Iran, not with the intent of increasing national security but purposely to create instability. Trump has ordered the youngest incumbent defense minister to engage in cyber warfare with China. He is looking for new terrorist names that would affect future diplomatic action. And, of course, he's rushing to the UAE and Saudi Arabia through massive arms sales that could completely upset the balance in a region known to be fragile.
All of this reflects something Trump did immediately after the 2016 election – he started running for 2020. That's exactly what Trump is doing again. Except this time, he's using his ability to ruin the government to position himself for a run in 2024. Trump's plan collapses: try to destroy democracy now, but if that doesn't work make sure the nation is so broken that you can destroy democracy next time. How Republicans will deal with this can best be summed up by what the Senate did in the last few hours leading up to a break – which utterly destroys traditions of the past by continuing to hand off lifelong appointments to unqualified candidates for justice who proposed by the loser in the national elections.
Trump is doing all he can to leave Joe Biden a nation sick and divided domestically, weak and besieged abroad. And he's doing it for the same reason he decided not to make a serious attempt to stop COVID-19. He believes that a little death and disaster will be a good political strategy.