The class of MSNBC has it almost exactly correct:
To state the obvious, not a great state of affairs when the incumbent president has convinced himself that chaos, street fighting, mayhem and bloodshed benefits him politically.— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) August 31, 2020
However, President Trump never has needed to convince himself of this. He has not persuaded himself, deluded himself, or sold himself on some alternate sense of reality.
He always has known that chaos, street fighting, mayhem, bloodshed, even a cratering economy would benefit Republicans politically. In 2014 Trump was on Fox and Friends when one of the hosts, referring to silly little things like health care, complained that it's a "problem for the Republicans. It's hard to be the party that says we're going to take these things away from you." Beginning at 1:53 of the video below, Trump can be heard responding
If anybody comes out against it or if anybody goes against it, new Democratic line itself, it's going to be hard in certain areas. Now, you know what solves it? When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell, and everything is a disaster, then you will have, you know you'll have riots to go back to where we used to be when America was great.
The following year, Trump emerged as a candidate for the GOP nomination for President with the slogan "make America great again." Someone should have noticed that he believed it would come about after a crashing economy and subsequent riots.
But then, Trump's strategy for America has always been so transparent and so cataclysmic that nary a pundit nor Democratic politician has been comfortable expressing it. When in early March the President admitted that he didn't want passengers and crew from the Grand Princess to disembark because infected with Covid-19 would become part of the official record, he was telling us that treating victims of the novel coronavirus was counter-productive. When in late June he tweeted "with slower testing, we would show fewer cases" of Covid-19, he didn't say there would be fewer cases but instead that there would appear to be fewer, thus little need to address the outbreak.
In his own bizarre, crude and ironic way, Donald Trump always has been transparent. Cut testing so we are unaware of disease and more people will die. Destroy an economy so there are riots and America can become great again. It's simply up to us as voters to banish this transcendent evil from our lives.