The Would-Be Emperor Has No Clothes

It should now be obvious to all…

It is incredible to take in the breadth of ignorance Donald Trump has displayed at the most important moment of his presidency. A quick summary is in order:

  • Trump has a “hunch” that the mortality rate of coronavirus is far lower than expert estimates. “Hunches” are exclusively for people with backs at Notre Dame.

  • He did a great job “containing” coronavirus by shutting down travel from affected areas based on 1,500 tests alone.

  • He is confident that “like a miracle, it will disappear.” Like his miracle election with a minority vote.

  • Trump assured Americans that a vaccine would be available in “months” rather than the year+ experts say is necessary. He sought to keep cruise ship passengers on board so that the sick among them wouldn’t be counted in the total of U.S. coronavirus cases.

  • Responding to criticism of flawed test kits and slow delivery, he falsely asserted again on TV “Anybody that wants a test can get a test. And the tests are all perfect, like the transcript and my conversation with the President of Ukraine.”

Those are the truly dangerous statements Trump has made – ones that contradict science and ACTUAL health experts and can leave the public ill-prepared for what may (but one hopes will not) turn out to be a serious medical and economic crisis.

Trump has also been almost comically inept in discussing the crisis. At the Centers for Disease Control on Friday, he insisted that EVERY doctor asked him, “How do you know so much about this?” Moments earlier, of course, Trump had been SHOCKED to discover that the flu kills people – tens of thousands of them, in fact, he told his audience.  Observers quickly pointed out that Trump’s own grandfather died from the flu in the 1918 pandemic.

No one knows yet, of course, what path coronavirus will follow. And Trump may, through literal dumb luck, prove to be right, at least in part. I, along with every decent human being, hope he is. But it should – it MUST – be obvious to all that, in the biggest crisis he’s faced, Trump is winging it, ignorant and ill-informed but nonetheless blindly confident in his own genius.

It’s the same playbook he’s used before – in the past, though, Trump was able to walk away unharmed when his casinos went bust, the women talked, or the Ukraine investigation backfired.

It SHOULD go without saying: President’s simply do not govern based on hunches; in times of crisis, Americans deserve and demand truth from their leaders; and, pandemics are more important than politics.

In what may be his Katrina moment, we can only hope that Trump, too, recognizes his clothes-less state and lets the experts do their jobs. 

A Note to Readers:

Just yesterday, economic advisor to the President Larry Kudlow called the coronavirus outbreak “contained.” In the face of such ongoing misinformation, it’s incumbent on all of us to educate ourselves. A friend recently sent me a link with practical, detailed and accurate information on coronavirus symptoms, pre-existing conditions that merit special caution, and more.  We know Trump won’t read it. You should.


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