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For a short time last month, President Donald Trump signaled a fleeting effort to flatten his blame curve — an unscientific measure of the frequency of his finger-pointing.
On March 14, he said of congressional approval of an $8.3 billion appropriation for coronavirus: "That was quickly done and very efficiently done. And I want to thank all members of Congress."
A few days later, he tempered his dispute with New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo by saying both he and Cuomo were doing a "really good" job on coronavirus.
A week later, Trump said of China President Xi Jinping: "We are working closely together. Much respect!"
This week, the president's blame curve is rising again.
For weeks, numerous critics have credibly faulted excessive coziness with Beijing for the World Health Organization's halting response to the still-brewing pandemic. On Tuesday, Trump, already criticized for his own tardy actions, ran to the front of the chorus.
"We're going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We're going to put a very powerful hold on it," he said.
Sixteen minutes later, he insisted he only might do that. Reminded that he had just vowed a "powerful hold," Trump replied: "No I didn't. I said we're going to look at it."
His own confusion aside, Trump spread some more blame.
The president revived an old standby: false claims of massive voter fraud.
He condemned popular efforts to expand mail-in voting for the November election as "corrupt" — even after he voted by mail in last month's Florida presidential primary.
Trump also asserted that a failed effort by Democrats to postpone Tuesday's Wisconsin primary stemmed from his endorsement of a state Supreme Court candidate.
"All of a sudden they want safety," he said. "Well, before I did the endorsement they didn't talk about safety."
Mail-in ballots, Trump said, are "a very dangerous thing for this country." He did not say how that squares with members of the military and medical shut-ins regularly using mail-in ballots.
Partisan blame curves aside, a Reuters-Ipsos poll published Wednesday found a majority favoring the use of mail-in ballots in the November presidential election if the pandemic has not abated.
Trump in recent days also expanded his unique habit of smearing and resisting those assigned to monitor government operations.
He went after the acting Health and Human Services inspector general for a factual report on the current hospital crisis.
He suggested he fired the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community for helping start the impeachment process.
And he forced out the inspector general set to monitor spending from the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package.
That sounds like a preemptive attempt to conceal whatever flaws such a monitor could no doubt find in any massive government program.