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Four Decades Along the Rainbow Road

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Exposed by the Virus

Trump’s character flaws spring up during the coronavirus pandemic.
Photo: AJImpact
Throughout our history, presidents have often used their intellect, judgment and the expertise of advisors to rise to the occasion when called upon to meet the challenges of a crisis facing our country. Franklin D. Roosevelt in World War II and John F. Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis immediately come to mind. George W. Bush failed his test when dealing with Hurricane Katrina, for example, though he demonstrated leadership in unifying the country following 9/11.  #hocopolitics

President Donald Trump has failed miserably so far in addressing and managing the novel coronavirus pandemic, which, as most are aware, is simultaneously an existential threat to the health of the population, to our economy, and to our well-being as a nation and world leader.

From the very outset of this crisis, Trump squandered the opportunity to act swiftly to help combat the effects of COVID-19 and to acknowledge the dangers posed. His denial of the seriousness of the virus and his generally cavalier attitude towards it led to critical delays in getting much needed supplies and equipment to hospitals and health officials and establishing widespread testing so that scientists and medical experts can determine the scope of the pandemic.

His every word, every statement and yes, every tweet, were uttered with his re-election bid in mind. He played down the seriousness of the situation lest the financial markets get even more rattled than they had from the beginning of the crisis. The gaudy stock market numbers prior to the news of the coronavirus and the overall strong economy were keys to Trump’s re-election rationale. They have since evaporated, and the country is facing a severe recession and historic unemployment despite a $2 trillion relief package passed by Congress. And that stock market continues to tank with no floor in sight.

As the number of cases in the U.S. and the world spread and the shocking number of fatalities was increasing exponentially, Trump no longer could paint a rosy picture and blame this as a new Democratic hoax. His response to the crisis has been abysmal, incompetent, dangerous and a manifestation of his numerous character flaws that he has demonstrated throughout his term. But they have been laid bare and have come into focus especially when this pandemic hit the U.S.
The following is a breakdown of how several of these flaws have been detrimental in dealing with the crisis:

Lying. Trump is a pathological liar, and even his most ardent supporters recognize he has a wobbly relationship with the truth. His lies, mistruths or whatever you want to call it has been detrimental in providing clear direction to a frightened population.

He lied about the temporary nature of the virus in that it will simply disappear, that it was Obama’s fault, that anybody who needs a test gets a test, that Google engineers were building a testing-related website, that we have outpaced South Korea’s COVID-19 testing, and on and on.  

Then there was this gem: “I’ve always known this is a real—this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic … I’ve always viewed it as very serious.”  This even as he claimed it was a flu and minimized the seriousness.  

And this one: This kind of pandemic “was something nobody thought could happen … Nobody would have ever thought a thing like this could have happened.”  Prior to Trump’s taking office, the Obama administration warned him about a potential pandemic and the World Health Organization as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned administration officials about the danger of the coronavirus hitting the U.S. well before Trump acted.

There have been many other such whoppers over this period that have led to a confused public.

Narcissism. Nobody can name a more narcissistic president than Donald Trump. At a time when he should be concerned about the welfare of the American people and demonstrating even a modicum of empathy, like everything else, he makes the coronavirus situation about himself.

He dubbed himself a “wartime president” to demonstrate strength and leadership prowess but unlike other strong leaders past and present, he refuses to take responsibility for the lateness of the response to the virus and blames governors (mainly Democrats) instead.  He probably used the moniker of wartime president as a shield against criticism.

He actually states that governors desperately in need of supplies should be more appreciative of his efforts and be more deferential to him.

Then there was his bragging about his TV ratings from his rambling, contradictory, confusing, dreary and uninspiring daily briefings and boasting that he has done a tremendous job.

Partisanship.  Ever since Trump showed up at a CDC meeting wearing his red campaign cap, he continues to be partisan during the crisis. As mentioned above, Trump faults Democratic governors for not being able to obtain much needed supplies, masks, ventilators and other equipment.  Trump attacked such Democrats as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as well as Sen. Chuck Schumer.  

He has praised Republican governors including Florida’s Ron DeSantis even though he allowed spring break parties on Florida’s beaches violating social distancing guidelines and being late in issuing a stay-at-home order.

Trump has directed needed resources to Republican governors over Democratic governors. Cuomo has been begging Trump for ventilators and other supplies as the coronavirus toll mounts in New York, but DeSantis had no trouble acquiring immediate help for Florida, a battleground state in the 2020 election.

And as also mentioned above, initially he called the coronavirus a new Democratic hoax.

Nepotism.  Despite any qualifications or government experience, Trump saw fit to make his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner principal advisors to the president. Kushner became the latest in a succession of individuals to be the front person for the coronavirus response team.
Never mind that Kushner has no experience in medicine in general or epidemiology specifically or crisis management for that matter, he was given the reins nonetheless. America will now have to turn its lonely eyes to him. With all the military leaders and medical experts to choose from to take charge, the only reason for Kushner’s presence is the fact he is married to Trump’s daughter.

Photo: Reuters
Vindictiveness. Throughout Trump’s presidency, he has displayed a level of vindictiveness that is beyond normal. In 2018 Trump disbanded its National Security Council pandemic team most likely as a result of it being President Obama’s creation.

He continues to spar with members of the press at his daily briefings labeling questions as “nasty” and “gotcha” when they were essentially softballs lobbed to him to help make Americans feel hopeful. It is almost like his retorts were pre-conceived without even listening to the question. Trump has been particularly harsh with female reporters and especially towards one who is a person of color when he responded to her with the indelicate phrase, “you people.”

When Navy Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of his duty by the Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly because he did not follow strict protocols in complaining about the outbreak of coronavirus on the 5,000 crew aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, many observers believed that Trump had his fingerprints all over it. Count me in on that suspicion.

President Trump has demonstrated he lacks the bandwidth, intellectual acuteness, curiosity and temperament to effectively deal with complex situations, such as the coronavirus pandemic. However, when you add in his myriad character flaws, the results can be potentially catastrophic.

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