Manipulative sociopath, true. Acumen for political theater, check. But cunning I can’t credit him for.
It would have taken no more than average intelligence to realize that fate was handing him the reelection on a platter, just when it appeared his ass was toast. And to pretend he didn’t want to cause a panic? When has he wanted anything else? He was just afraid of something too big to ignore making him look bad.