NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T he narrative is too simple to resist. In rambling remarks, Trump seemed to suggest using light and disinfectants inside the body to kill the coronavirus. His more uncharitable critics said Trump had suggested that Americans drink bleach. Trump responded that he was being sarcastic. Bleachgate, because it is such a great hook, risks symbolizing and distorting the causes of Trump’s relatively weak coronavirus bounce and the timing of that bounce’s fade. It didn’t start with drinking bleach.

The timing just doesn’t work out. Crises tend to produce rally-round-the-flag effects in which a national leader’s popularity improves as the public, in desperation and fear, puts its trust in him or her. That happened for Trump, too, but his initial polling

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