After months of denying that gravity exists, President Trump dropped a golf ball from the White House roof and declared that Isaac Newton was right.
Likewise, the president has discovered the germ theory of disease, and not a moment too soon. In fact, it’s nearly 150,000 American Covid-19 deaths too late. As of last week, he was thinking the virus was starting to be a problem.
He pronounces from the podium that hand-washing and social distancing are good ideas. Watching him endorse health precautions during a global pandemic that has already spread to nearly every country on earth is a bit like watching Linda Blair, in “The Exorcist,” with her head spinning 360 degrees. One minute he’s ridiculing people who wear masks, declaring the virus will disappear, and the next minute his head is spinning, and he’s saying the opposite.
You can’t say one thing one day and contradict it the next day, especially when lives are at stake, and especially when you’re the elected leader responsible for keeping people safe. You can’t say the virus is inconsequential when the consequences of your bad advice are bodies piled up in refrigerated trucks.
“Mixed message” doesn’t begin to describe the damage caused by Trump’s about-face. It’s a relief that he’s now suggesting masks and distancing, but how do we forgive him for pushing states to open for business before they were ready? How do we forgive him for the suffering and death that might have been averted if he had evolved a bit more quickly?
He says what is most expedient in the moment, and it doesn’t matter at all that he contradicts what he said a moment before. Life in the rabbit hole gets stranger and stranger.
Somehow, it feels more personal than political. When you lead the United States in battle, during a health or financial or foreign crisis, your very least obligation is to keep yourself informed, and help people stay safe and healthy and knowledgeable about the risks they face. You need to tell the truth. That’s not a particularly high bar, but it’s one that Trump doesn’t clear.
Of course, for Trump, everything is political, from Goya beans to the British Open. If it doesn’t serve his own needs, it doesn’t fly.
I had a dream a few weeks ago that I fear was prophetic. In it, the president suddenly did what he was actually doing last week: He put himself out front and center as the pandemic fighter in chief. He started to wear a mask every time he saw a camera pointed his way. He spoke from the White House press room, lamenting the terrible surge in Covid-19 cases and hinting that it was the governors’ fault. Remember when he ceded leadership to the states, forcing them to scrounge for ventilators and PPE and hospital beds? That was so he could blame them when the virus grabbed us by the throat and began to shake.
That’s where we are now, barely able to breathe in Florida and Texas and California and Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and North and South Carolina. Trump has wiped clean from his brain any memory of pushing these states to open for business while the virus was still raging. People died because he doesn’t know how to lead in a crisis, and he doesn’t know how to delegate.
In my dream, he becomes the newly responsible, sane and sober voice from the Oval Office, suddenly urging people to take precautions. When they do, and the Covid-19 numbers start falling, he takes full credit for getting it under control. He applauds himself long and loud. And too many people buy what he’s selling. And he gets re-elected.
That’s my nightmare.
To be clear: If the virus is subdued due to the president’s efforts, it would be an unqualified blessing for humanity. Let DJT take the credit.
The moral imperative, however, still requires us to vote Trump and his sidekicks out of office and into the dustbin of history. He is a proven liar and a morally bankrupt human being.
He miraculously discovered the protective powers of wearing a mask last week, when it was politically expedient. Suddenly, he agrees it may not be a great idea to draw thousands of people together for a nominating convention in Jacksonville.
Any minute now he will invent the wheel.
Copyright 2020 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.