Yesterday, President Trump gave what was generously described as a “bizarre” one-minute press briefing in which he refused to answer any question from the press.
The hastily-called event was his first since the election and one of the few times he has appeared in public since then, preferring to conduct the majority of his temper-tantrum via tweet. He congratulated himself (aka “everybody”) on the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached 30,000 (a “sacred number”) and seeming to take credit for recent positive developments on the Covid vaccine front. He then turned and walked away.
Why do people describe Donald Trump as the “worst President in modern American history”? Why the qualifier? Why not come out and say “worst President in American history”?
True, news in the Trump era flies fast an furious. For four-plus years, reporters and analysts have been whip-sawed from one horror to the next. They’ve barely had time to dip their toe into one scandal before they’re pulled away to the next, and there’s not a lot of time for in-depth research of the type which might be necessary when making comparisons that span thousands of years or hundreds of administrations.
Yesterday someone made the totally obvious yet utterly profound observation that Trump never wanted to be The President. What they meant was that he didn’t have any interest in leading our nation or in governing in the true sense of the word. Most people seek the highest office because they have a profound desire to serve the public, or out of a sense that they are uniquely qualified to lead the country at a pivotal time in our history, or because they want to move the country in a certain direction. But Trump had no such desire. He has never had a political philosophy or any meaningful agenda beyond Make America Great Again, which isn’t so much a presidential agenda as it is an advertising slogan, one about as meaningful as “Where’s the Beef?” What Trump wanted was to be the most talked-about person on the planet. And for the last four years, that’s exactly what he’s been.
Last week we learned that world leaders all think that Donald Trump is doing a great job handling this pandemic. “I spoke with Angela Merkel today, I spoke with Prime Minister Abe of Japan; I spoke with many of the leaders over the last four or five days. And so many of them, almost all of them — I would say all of them, not everyone would want to admit it — but they all view us as the world leader, and they’re following us.” That was a bit of a surprise to a lot of people, including the world leaders themselves. Because they don’t actually think that.
This week we learned that Barack Obama committed many crimes. Which crimes? Obvious crimes. Disgraceful crimes. Crimes that shouldn’t be allowed to happen again. So many crimes, in fact, and of such great magnitude that they deserve their own designation: Obamagate. And that’s how you know they happened. And that they were bad. Because they don’t just put -gate onto anything.
On Monday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell informed America that the reason the Trump administration’s response to the current health “situation” has been so dismal is not actually due to any fault of the Trump administration. Rather it is the fault of the Obama administration for failing to adequately prepare them for it. “[C]learly the Obama administration did not leave to this administration any kind of game plan for something like this,” McConnell said.
This is a pretty big whopper, even by current whopper standards.
On Sunday, Donald Trump said “our country has to go back to being our country again. . . We have to go back to work.”
He also said, “You have people who are not going to stand for this and I understand that very well.” By which he meant “If you kill someone who is trying to keep you from your job, preventing you from eating at Old Country Buffet, or forcing you to wear a face mask, I will call you a very fine person and may even pay your legal bills.”
This is my sixth week living in our new paradigm. For the most part I’m doing okay, but there are times I feel an overwhelming emotional exhaustion. It isn’t brought on by fear of contracting COVID -19 or anxiety for the future or even the demands of social distancing. It’s because I feel like we’re walking a long road while at the same time those who should be leading us forward have tied a rope around our waists and are pulling us backwards. It’s like swimming against the tide. An uphill climb. Or walking into a headwind. Pick your metaphor. But it’s wearing me out.
Once again, Trump has proven that he was absent from school when they learned that our Founding Fathers took steps to ensure that our country was not ruled by a monarch and that the powers of the President and the federal government aren’t unlimited. Some days it’s hard to decide whether he doesn’t know that he’s not actually King of America, or whether he just doesn’t care.
Last week’s news was filled with reports that Trump was told back in January of the potential spread of the new coronavirus in the US and that millions of lives would be in peril unless he took immediate action to keep Americans home. Which, of course, he didn’t. Instead, he downplayed the threat and told us that everything was under control. Which, of course, it wasn’t. Unbelievably, in March when he finally admitted that this was serious stuff, he seemed “baffled” (according to his associates) by how events had played out. He said “no one could have predicted” such an epidemic. Which, of course, plenty of people did. These news reports were accompanied by logical, factual, unassailable evidence in the form of emails, memos, and quotes from administration officials as well as analysis of the results of his failure to act.