The sick joke of Donald’s Trump’s presidency isn’t funny any more
The coronavirus outbreak has revealed the full stupidity, incompetence and selfishness of the president to deadly effect
By Richard Wolffe
For three long years the world has been treated to the sick joke of Donald Trump’s presidency. Some days were more sick than others. But now the joke is over.
So is the entire facade of the Trump White House: the gold-plated veneer of power and grift will be stripped bare by a global pandemic and recession.
Of all the obituaries we’ll read in the next several weeks, every one will be more meaningful than the political end of a former reality-TV star.
But make no mistake. The humanitarian crisis about to unfold will consume what’s left of this president and the Republican party that surrendered its self-respect and sense of duty to flatter his ego and avoid his angry tweets.
Trump was right about one thing, and only one thing, as the coronavirus started to spread across the world. The sight of thousands of dead Americans will hurt him politically. It will also hurt many thousands of Americans in reality.
Multiple reports have detailed how Trump did not just ignore the growing pandemic; he actively sought to block his own officials’ attempts to track and stop it. Why has there been such a disastrous lack of testing? Because the president didn’t want to know the answer, and because his staff were too busy fighting each other to do the right thing.
“The boss has made it clear he likes to see his people fight, and he wants the news to be good,” Politico reported one Trump health adviser saying. “This is the world he’s made.”
Never mind a world turned upside down by fear and death. Trump’s world is upended by his gobsmackingly childish comments about how the whole thing will blow over. “It’s going to disappear,” he told one reception inside the White House just two weeks ago. “One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
The only miracle of this presidency is that it’s taken so long for this country to wake up to the catastrophe.
How could we have known that Trump would deny the resources to deal with a disaster, deny the truth about the death toll, and denounce anyone daring to tell the truth?
It wasn’t hard to know. After Hurricane Maria devastated the American island of Puerto Rico in September of his first year in office, Trump gave himself a 10 for his response to the devastation. He also said he couldn’t keep the military in Puerto Rico forever, which was news to the national guard.
At the very time he was bragging about his response and trashing his own citizens, more than 3,000 Americans were dying on the island because of Trump’s botched response to the hurricane. Those Americans were our most vulnerable citizens: the sick and elderly, who lost power, lacked medicine or needed a hospital bed when the hospitals were stricken.
Those are the same Americans who face the greatest peril in the coming weeks from the same toxic mix of callousness and incompetence from the same sociopathic president.
This is everyone’s catastrophe and one man’s calamity. For Trump, there is no escaping the stench of failure that seeps through every unmade decision, every fumbled response, and every unhinged tweet.
This is a president who can’t formulate a coherent coronavirus policy, and can’t even read the words written for him on a prompter.
One paragraph from Wednesday’s disastrous Oval Office address managed to only worsen the political pathogen that is his presidency.
“There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings,” he explained about his new travel ban from Europe, ignoring the reality that he limited all testing so there are no appropriate screenings.
“And these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval,” he added, wiping out many billions in transatlantic trade – and various other things – with one flap of his lips.
“Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing,” he explained in case anyone had any doubt about his economic stupidity.
“These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom.” Ah yes, the British immunity to coronavirus is a well-documented medical fact. British people who play golf on a Trump course are especially healthy individuals.
If Trump was trying to reassure the markets, he failed, like he always does. Even the Federal Reserve magicking $1.5tn out of thin air could not stop the stock market from suffering its worst single day since the 1987 crash.
“This was the most expensive speech in history,” one investment strategist told the Financial Times.
There is hope amid the horror: an election in just eight months when Americans can vote for a return to the once-normal life of a competent government. Joe Biden’s response on Thursday was a stark reminder of what presidents and vice-presidents used to sound like.
“We’ll lead with science,” the former vice-president said. “We’ll listen to the experts. We’ll heed their advice.” It all sounded so shockingly novel. “We’ll build American leadership and rebuild it to rally the world to meet global threats that we are likely to face again. And I’ll always tell you the truth.”
The truth: it’s getting harder to remember a time when we expected our leaders to say such things.
In the meantime, before January 2021, the world faces two deadly diseases: a pandemic and a pathetically incompetent president.
On Thursday, as schools shut down and troops took to the streets of a New York suburb, Trump of course bragged about himself in ways that made you wonder about his own medical condition.
“I mean, think of it: the United States, because of what I did and what the administration did with China, we have 32 deaths at this point,” he said in the Oval Office. “Thirty-two is a lot. Thirty-two is too many. But when you look at the kind of numbers that you’re seeing coming out of other countries, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it.”
And you know what? Instead of thinking about preparing thousands of new hospital beds, or millions of virus tests, Trump has probably committed the largest part of his brain to thinking about that number. That very tiny number, so small compared to the rest of the world, that represents the full measure of his compassion.