Everyone knows about President Trump’s bombast, his relentless self-promotion and his absurd hyperbole. He can’t eat a piece of cake without telling you it was the “most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen.”

But along with his thirst for affirmation is a need, just as powerful, to escape responsibility when things go wrong.

It’s something he’s very experienced at. You have a big, splashy event in front of the cameras announcing that you’ve built the most luxurious hotel or golf course or casino the world has ever seen, and then if it goes bankrupt, you skedaddle out of town, leaving other people holding the bag. So now Trump is preparing to put that experience to work with the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crash it created.

Though nothing with Trump is ever permanent, he seems to be in the midst of a transition, from claiming credit he doesn’t deserve to evading the blame that he does.

It was just a few days ago that Trump was touting his unparalleled authority, including the ability to order the resumption of economic activity in every state despite lockdown orders issued by governors. “The president of the United States calls the shots,” he said Monday, adding that governors “can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.”

Like an epic hero, he would use his nearly limitless power to pull the country out of its suffering and despair, and deliver us back to safety and prosperity.

But just a couple of days later, he was in full reverse. Who’s calling the shots now? “You’re going to call your own shots,” Trump told governors in a conference call Thursday, according to a recording obtained by The Post.

At his televised briefing Thursday evening, Trump’s retreat from responsibility continued. Less than a month ago, he touted his own prescience, claiming “I’ve felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” Yet now he says the truth was withheld from him:

I was angry because it should have been told to us. It should have been told to us early. It should have been told to us a lot sooner. People knew it was happening, and people didn’t want to talk about it. I don’t know why, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it.

As we know all too well, this rewriting of history is ludicrous. Trump got warning after warning about the dangers of the coronavirus and continued to dismiss it as nothing to worry about.

And this is another of Trump’s rhetorical tells: When he says he’s going to “get to the bottom” of something, it means he’s trying to convince you that something nefarious took place, something for which he is not at fault but others might be blamed (and inevitably, there is actually nothing to “get to the bottom” of, nor will he try).

What he will do, however, is work to come up with a strategy to weasel out of responsibility. But why now? Why this sudden retreat?

Perhaps it was because someone managed to convince him that as a matter of law and the Constitution, he was completely wrong in his belief that he could order governors around. Or perhaps it was because he realized his goal of “reopening the country” by May 1 was spectacularly ill-advised, all but guaranteed to give the pandemic new life.

You may also have noticed that Trump has stopped talking so much about the coming miracle of hydroxychloroquine, which was always a Hail Mary pass for him, a gamble on a cure that he could take credit for. But evidence that the drug provides meaningful benefit to covid-19 patients has not emerged, so Trump has dropped it.

Most of all, the news about the economy is so overwhelming — 22 million jobs lost in just a few weeks — that Trump may no longer be able to convince even himself that everything will be great by November.

So for now, he seems to want to recede. He may not be able to move into the background, but he wants to let everyone know that the buck does not stop with him.

But who can he blame? The World Health Organization? China? Democratic governors? Joe Biden? He’ll try them all, but it won’t work.

Trump was always skilled at outrunning his debts. In one famous case, he couldn’t pay a $640 million loan he had taken from Deutsche Bank to finance a tower in Chicago, so he sued the bank for $3 billion, claiming that he was the victim. But when you’re president, sloughing responsibility on to someone else isn’t so easy.

It’s often said that presidents get more credit than they deserve when things go right and more blame than they deserve when things go wrong. Trump desperately wants the former without the latter. But with things going so terribly wrong and his own performance so obviously lacking, his old strategies aren’t going to work.