After weeks of unending tribulations, Donald Trump arrives at America's Independence Day celebrations with an ominous political cloud obscuring the pyrotechnics of today's traditional fireworks.
He and his supporters confront a stark question: Will this be his last July 4 as US president?
Throughout his first three White House years, the mogul-media celebrity dodged a full-blown crisis, a dilemma with national implications. He, of course, was impeached by the House of Representatives but that resulted from a self-inflicted wound: withholding military assistance from Ukraine in exchange for political intelligence. What happened then wasn't really a public emergency, such as the 2001 terrorist attacks of September 11 or the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.
Beginning in February, however, coronavirus started to spread. At first, the president downplayed the burgeoning health calamity as cases grew and the dying began. On March 10, Mr Trump pronounced: "We're prepared, and we're doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away." The next day, the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a pandemic and US victims started spiking upwards.
Three months later, with the pathogen proliferating, America leads the planet in cases (more than 2.8 million) and fatalities (over 130,000). Several states are experiencing surging numbers, overwhelming hospitals. With so-called "hot spots" elsewhere, the disease remains deadly.
The crisis quickly metastasised into an economic catastrophe, with unemployment soaring, business sales plummeting and the stock market dropping.
During the last weeks of March and into April, Mr Trump appeared to take charge, christening himself a "wartime president" and conducting frequent news conferences projecting hands-on leadership.
But he stopped briefings in late April after stumbling during some responses. It looked as though the president got bored and wanted to move on while urging citizens to resume normal behaviour.
This past Wednesday more than 50,000 new cases were reported, the first time above that level. The same day, Mr Trump told an interviewer: "I think we're going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think at some point that's going to sort of just disappear, I hope."
Besides the still-potent pandemic, the murder in late May of African American George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police provoked widespread demonstrations, denouncing discrimination.
Instead of trying to calm a combustible situation with compassion, Mr Trump called himself the president of "law and order". After saying that, he directed the military to disperse peaceful protesters outside the White House so he could stage a strange photo opportunity at a church damaged during a disturbance.
As with the devastating coronavirus, the president seemed tone deaf and out of touch. Indeed, an opinion survey conducted for the 'Washington Post' revealed 74pc of Americans supported the protests, with 61pc disapproving of Mr Trump's response. Just 35pc approved.
With doubts about the man in the Oval Office expanding, news of a book providing an insider's view began to circulate. The administration even went to court, without success, to stop 'The Room Where It Happened' by John Bolton from being published.
What does the former national security adviser say in his memoir? Referring to the president as "stunningly uninformed", "erratic" and "impulsive", Bolton writes, "throughout my West Wing tenure, Trump wanted to do what he wanted to do, based on what he knew and what he saw as his own best personal interests."
Concern for the common good? "I am hard-pressed," Bolton admits, "to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn't driven by re-election calculations."
If Bolton's revelations prompted White House heartburn, another tell-all could produce more. Mary Trump, the president's only niece and a clinical psychologist, is author of 'Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man'. Scheduled for publication in late July, another lawsuit seeks to stop its appearance.
To counteract unfavourable publicity, the Trump re-election campaign staged a rally two Saturdays ago, the first since March 2. The Oklahoma city of Tulsa was chosen to take advantage of that area's fervour for him and the Republican Party.
Before this political revelry, Mr Trump tweeted that "almost one million people" requested tickets for his performance at the 19,000-seat centre. Crowd expectations even pushed electoral advisers to build an outdoor stage, so the loyalist overflow could enjoy a separate speech.
Despite the hype, just a third of the arena - about 6,200 citizens, according to Tulsa's fire marshal - welcomed Mr Trump. The second talk was scrubbed.
Observers viewed the meagre attendance as, in part, reluctance to participate at a mass gathering amid Covid-19. The word "flop" featured prominently in news accounts.
Such problems in governing and electioneering create flashing warning signs in opinion surveys assessing Mr Trump's performance and second-term prospects.
Polls collected by RealClearPolitics show a current presidential job approval average of 41.5pc as opposed to 55.8pc disapproval - a gap of 14.3pc. For comparison, on April 1, Mr Trump was approved by 47.4pc and disapproved by 50.4pc - a mere 3pc difference. In national election polling, the president hasn't led former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee, since mid-February.
Of late, Mr Biden has enjoyed nearly a 10pc advantage according to RealClearPolitics, and this week CNBC/Change Research released results of individual polls in six battleground (or competitive) states that Mr Trump won in 2016.
Mr Biden holds the advantage in all six: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Specifically, seniors and evangelicals are deserting the president.
On Independence Day four years ago, Donald Trump was given little chance of winning the White House. In that respect, history is repeating itself.
But what will history - and political sagacity - say four months from today, the day after this November's election?