Whether you’re far Left or far Right or anywhere in-between, you’ve got to agree with one thing: the nation has been going through crises that threaten its health, its economy, and its social bonds. In this Boomer Opinion piece, BoomerCafé’s co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs doesn’t see them going away any time soon.
In the midst of the angst we’ve all felt these past few months, the word “crisis” has become an understatement.
At its outset, the coronavirus was a crisis. Now, with record numbers of new infections in the nation with the pandemic’s highest per-capita death rate in the western world, and progressively polarized about the safest way to confront it, it still is.
Then on the wave of the virus, the economy became a crisis. Today, with the repercussions of premature “reopenings,” and some warnings in the U.S. and globally that it could take as much as a decade to win back the losses we’ve all incurred— some at much more painful levels than others— it still is.
Then, in the glare of a single pointless death under the knee of a single bad cop, the precariousness of racial relations, and the processes of policing, became a crisis. Despite reforms so rapidly embraced by a broad spectrum of American society, until we’re convinced that they’ll actually alter the attitudes and the behavior of us all, it will also be fair to say of this crisis: It still is.
Yet hanging over all this— the health crisis, the economic crisis, the social crisis— is the crisis of leadership. The crisis of a president whose personal interests and unappeasable ego are so core to his conduct that virtually every word he has uttered and every edict he has issued have moved the nation toward more trauma, not less. Toward more division, not less. Toward more losses, more tension, more deaths, not less.
Toward more crisis, not less.
Every day, sometimes every hour, brings new portentous proof. With even more this past weekend. Just one weekend.
First, the president “retweeted” a video of a man in Florida driving a golf cart festooned with flags and banners supporting Trump.
The trouble is, as the man drove by the camera, he was pumping his fist and shouting “White Power.” One of the president’s spokesmen put this spin on Trump’s blatantly racist tweet: He “did not hear the one statement made on the video.”
As if that is an adequate excuse.
It’s not. Because it means one of two things: either the leader of the free world (as if the free world has much respect for this man’s leadership) pays so little attention to detail that he is willing to put something out to his tens of millions of followers without first making sure that it’s worthy of wider exposure… which raises questions about just how alert he’d be to detail when a crisis of national security threatens us. Or it means, in the interest of pleasing parts of his base, he endorses White Power, which pitifully, given his history, raises no new questions at all.
Neither gives this nation any relief from its crises.
Then, on the wave of reports that American intelligence learned months ago that Russian operatives have offered bounties to the Taliban in Afghanistan to target our troops there, and that some U.S. troops have died as a result, the best Trump could do was tweet, “Nobody briefed or told me.”
As if that were an adequate excuse. Especially after reports just yesterday that this alarming intel was part of an assessment two months ago in the CIA’s World Intelligence Review and, even more telling of the president’s inattention to our safety, part of the President’s Daily Brief report— the piece he’s supposed to read every day— a full four months ago.
This all leads to several chilling conclusions: either Trump has surrounded himself with such incompetent advisors that they don’t know what’s crucial to point out to the president and what’s not. Or, Trump’s people are so loath to suffer his wrath if they deliver bad news that instead, they somehow protect him from it. Or, he really doesn’t bother reading his daily intelligence briefing, as several former aides have revealed. Or most likely, given the menacing nature of the report, Trump was aware of it, but in deference to his bewildering bromance with Vladimir Putin, he did nothing to protect our troops, then flat-out lied.
Based on this president’s history, you be the judge. But however you explain it, this only aggravates the nation’s crises, it doesn’t relieve them. Not to mention, if Trump was briefed and didn’t act, you could call it treason.
Then, although at the nation’s expense the president now perilously pretends it’s all in the past, there’s still the pandemic. On a Sunday talk show, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander made this sensible statement: “If wearing masks is important, and all the health experts tell us that it is in containing the disease in 2020, it would help if from time to time the president would wear one to help us get rid of this political debate that says if you’re for Trump, you don’t wear a mask, if you’re against Trump, you do.” Shades of Florida Republican Marco Rubio’s more direct injunction: “Everyone should just wear a damn mask.” Even Trump’s shameless alter-ego, the Vice President, said over the weekend, “Where you can’t maintain social distancing, wearing a mask is just a good idea.”
But this doesn’t diminish the crisis, because as even his allies openly urge levelheaded measures like wearing masks, Trump doesn’t. And from what he has told us, won’t. Which makes this president a high-risk role model, because there are morons out there who follow his lead.
Getting Trump out is our only way out. Otherwise, every crisis will be unabated. As will our angst.