CNN  — 

In The New York Times’ Sunday opus on how cracks are emerging between President Donald Trump and the broader Republican Party in how to handle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a single quote stands out.

“The President got bored with it,” Dave Carney, a longtime Republican strategist who advises Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, told the Times.

That is a stunning admission from anyone. But most especially from someone like Carney, who isn’t part of the “Never Trump” movement and isn’t the sort to just pop off to impress media types or his fellow consultants.

And a look back at Trump’s response to the virus absolutely validates Carney’s view. In the early months of 2020, Trump downplayed the virus – repeatedly.

“It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control,” he said in January. “It’s going to be just fine.”

“When you have 15 people. And the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done,” he said in February.

As cases surged in March, Trump began to take the threat posed by coronavirus more seriously. He also realized that he could command the national spotlight virtually unchallenged by starring in daily coronavirus press briefings.

“The Wall Street Journal always ‘forgets’ to mention that the ratings for the White House Press Briefings are ‘through the roof’ (Monday Night Football, Bachelor Finale, according to @nytimes) & is only way for me to escape the Fake News & get my views across,” he tweeted on April 9. “WSJ is Fake News!”

And then this on the following day: “Because the T.V. Ratings for the White House News Conference’s are the highest, the Opposition Party (Lamestream Media), the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats &, of course, the few remaining RINO’S, are doing everything in their power to disparage & end them. The People’s Voice!”

By late April, Trump was clearly losing interest, however.

“What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately,” he tweeted on April 25. “They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!” (Trump said Monday he planned to restart the briefings. “I was doing them and we had a lot of people watching, record numbers watching in the history of cable television, and there’s never been anything like it,” he explained.)

But even before that, it was clear that Trump was getting sick of the country being closed.

“The President of the United States calls the shots,” he said at a coronavirus briefing in mid-April regarding the resistance among some governors to begin reopening their states. “They can’t do anything without the approval of the President of the United States.”

While he backtracked from that curious claim, he didn’t let up in pressuring governors to reopen.

“You’re going to call your own shots,” Mr. Trump told the governors, according to an audio recording provided to The New York Times. “You’re going to be calling the shots. We’ll be standing right alongside of you, and we’re going to get our country open and get it working. People want to get working.”

By early May, Trump was casting the choice of reopening as not really a choice at all.

“Texas is opening up and a lot of places are opening up. And we want to do it, and I’m not sure that we even have a choice,” Trump told reporters on May 8. “I think we have to do it. You know, this country can’t stay closed and locked down for years.” (Texas is now one of the hotspots for the coronavirus.)

All of Trump’s urgings to reopen came in spite of warnings from doctors and infectious disease experts – including some on his coronavirus task force – that the virus had not been contained and the benchmarks set out for reopening had not been met. (Even so, a number of governors – largely Republicans in the South – moved quickly to reopen, with Georgia and Florida being among the first.)

Why would Trump ignore – or at least downplay – the science of the virus in favor of a rapid push to reopen? Because the thrill of being the face of the fight against the virus had worn off for Trump. His aides were telling him that the daily press briefings were hurting him politically. The unemployment numbers were staggering. He saw his 2020 chances slipping.

Battling coronavirus had become too much for Trump. The virus wasn’t cooperating. It hadn’t gone away with the warmer weather, as he predicted. The more states reopened, the more the virus grew among their populations. A number of school systems announced that they would stick with virtual learning heading into the fall. The public was turning against him.

And so, like a kid who gets sick of playing with his once-favorite toy, Trump tried – and continues to try – to create a post-Covid reality. Suddenly the most pressing issue of the day was whether or not statues of Confederate generals should be removed. And how Democrats were trying to rewrite history. And how schools were teaching students to “hate ” America. And how Joe Biden “doesn’t know he’s alive.” And how if Biden wins, America will rapidly go the way of Venezuela.

The problem for Trump is that just because he was done dealing with the coronavirus did not mean it was done with America. Not by a long shot. And no matter how many different ways Trump tries to change the subject, the cases (and deaths) keep piling up.