Even in the thick of this coronavirus crisis, there is a deep divide in this nation. A divide between those who think Donald Trump is doing a great job handling it… and those who think he’s not. In this Boomer Opinion piece, BoomerCafé co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs writes, he’s in the second camp.
Watching Donald Trump dealing with this disease through rose-colored glasses and orange-toned skin— praising his own performance with “I’d rate it a 10” and bent — until someone Sunday talked sense into his head — on getting the country going again by Easter because it’s “a beautiful time, a beautiful time line”— some Americans might think he’s an optimist.
That would be a mistake. And in the darkness of all the deaths you might lay at his doorstep for his delusional early dismissals of the disease, a fatal one. Of course today he’d like you to forget all that; he’d like you to forget the false sense of security that he wittingly and recklessly radiated, which meant the nation wasn’t ready when the coronavirus crossed our shores. No, this man is not an optimist. He’s an opportunist. A dangerous, deceitful opportunist. Always has been, and as we’ve learned after his three-plus years in the White House, always will be.
All he does is take care of himself, not us. I’m proud of a lot of my fellow baby boomers who have made our world a better place. But not Trump. He puts his own welfare before the public’s. In ways large and small.
Remember a week ago when the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told an interviewer that when Trump makes his mindless misstatements, “I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down?” Suddenly, at White House briefings where he had previously contradicted the president’s opinions with his own expertise, Fauci was periodically missing in action. Sidelined by a thin-skinned president, who put his own ego before the public’s need to know.
Or a few days after that, when Trump flagrantly told Vice President Pence, the head of his Coronavirus Task Force, “Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington,” (Jay Inslee, who he’d previously described as “a snake”), “and don’t call the woman in Michigan” (who also has a name: Gretchen Whitmer, which in a later tweet our lowlife leader turned into “Gretchen Half Whitmer”). Ignore them, Trump told Pence, “if they don’t treat you right.”
Since when did Donald Trump become the president of just 48 states? The answer is, when the governors of the other two grumbled that the federal government wasn’t delivering on promises Trump had made to get emergency equipment to their states, which still has been in short supply. Apparently in Trump’s warped world, Americans only deserve his attention if their governors shower him with compliments, not complaints.
Which raises a bigger question: Did we really only recently start having this conversation about ventilators (and face masks and protective gowns and all the rest)… just as some hospitals in New York already have to resort to the desperate but unproven procedure of joining two patients to a single ventilator? We should have had a clue when Trump disavowed his own accountability for the government’s failure to get these critical products produced and shipped out fast (and with his archetypal absence of empathy for those suffering): “We’re not a shipping clerk.” Actually, Mr. President, if you’re not, who is?
Then there’s the day Trump touted “chloroquine” as a potential “game-changer” for coronavirus. He then threw in, as if it didn’t much matter, “Some people would add to it ‘hydroxy’.” It did much matter, because a substance called chloroquine phosphate is an additive to clean fish tanks and after an elderly couple in Arizona heard the president, they ingested some. The man died. Overseas, also after Trump sloppily simplified the name, several Africans swallowed some. They died too. A woman in Kenya wrote ruefully to a friend of mine, “We see the USA as the savior.” More’s the pity.
No doubt, if any reporter had the guts to ask the president about those deaths, his answer would be the same one he gave when asked about the dearth of test kits for the disease: “I don’t take responsibility at all.” Give him credit for this: he’s consistent. If there’s blame to go around for any aspect of this crisis, he’s the first to cast it: at China, at the media, at Democrats, at Barack Obama. Everyone messed up, except him. Having long displayed “The Buck Stops Here” on his Oval Office desk, Harry Truman must be rolling in his grave.
Finally, Easter. No doubt, having the country “opened up and just raring to go by Easter” would have been good for votes. But any moron could see that if the death toll trend in Europe is still surging— grim new records of 969 deaths Saturday in Italy, 838 Sunday in Spain— then Americans shouldn’t be sitting side by side in church pews on Easter, just two weeks from now. Especially since this past weekend, the United States achieved mournful milestones of its own: more than 140,000 reported infections, which makes us the world leader. And worse: more than 2,300 deaths. That’s like almost six 747s going down in flames.
As writer Ric Patterson put it in TheBulwark.com about the Easter goal before Trump moved the goalpost to at least April 30th, “Trump’s literally irreverent proposal to serve as our national East Bunny causes public health experts to shudder.” Like Dr. Fauci, who doesn’t even see a peak for this plague until the beginning of May, with a new unnerving projection of 100,000 U.S. deaths or more. He has said (as if this incurious president would listen), “You don’t make the time line. The virus makes the time line.”
We’ve learned to use the phrase, “Flatten the curve.” But apparently the President of the United States doesn’t really know what it means. Because right now, the curve still is shooting for the sky. Case in point: on the same day late last week that the president preposterously proclaimed that “the mortality rate is, in my opinion… way, way down,” an emergency doc described the scene at his New York hospital as “apocalyptic.”
There is consensus among experts— who work from data, not from their gut— that this disease will continue to strike in different parts of the nation like a rolling blackout. The number of infections reported in some cities is now doubling every three or four days. Doubling! This is no time to start relaxing the precautions. Anywhere. To the contrary, if we do want to flatten the curve, it’s time to reinforce them. Everywhere. If we don’t all do it the right way together, we’ll all end up in the wrong place together.
Franklin Roosevelt, taking the nation’s helm in the depths of the Great Depression, said in his first inaugural address, “Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.”
What’s sad and scary is, we’d be better off with just a foolish optimist at the helm. But we have something worse: a foolhardy opportunist.