As was only fitting on St. Patrick’s Day, my brother Tommy and I congratulated each other on our hardy Irish peasant genes. Centuries of living on dirt floors with pigs, we smugly agreed, have rendered us Micks immune from contagion.
Um, except for our grandfather Michael Sheedy, who died in the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic — the last time a highly contagious virus with no immunity and no vaccine spread worldwide. He’s buried in Elizabethport, New Jersey, within walking distance of the salt water that carried his family here from County Cork on so-called “coffin ships” (because so many passengers died at sea) during the Great Irish Famine. He was 32.
That’s basically all we know. Our mother was 2 when her father died; her mother remarried. We must have Sheedy cousins somewhere, but we’ve never met them.
But no, Tommy and I are hardly immune. Nor is anybody else we love.
Meanwhile, we also agreed that if anything good can possibly come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it could only be the decline and fall of Boss Trump, the world’s biggest and most incompetent bluffer.
Now we begin to understand how the man managed to go bankrupt running casinos. He never knows what he’s talking about, refuses to be corrected and surrounds himself with flatterers. Eventually, people quit believing his lies and the merry-go-round shudders to a stop.
Then he’s off to the next scam, playing a savvy businessman on TV, fleecing gullible students at “Trump University,” laundering dirty money for Russian gangsters, whatever. Everything he touches is crooked; the illusion ultimately fades.
Polls are beginning to show that Trump is pretty much down to the core of his cultlike base. According to The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin: “A new NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll finds only 37 percent of Americans ‘now say they had a good amount or a great deal of trust in what they’re hearing from the president.’ Sixty percent have ‘not very much or no trust at all in what he’s saying.”’
There will be far fewer before the COVID-19 crisis ends. Especially now that Trump has reversed himself and begun repeating what experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have been telling him all along. About two months too late.
Besides, you know he can’t stick to it.
Remember when Trump kept telling us the virus was, like, this big nothingburger, and Democratic concerns were a “hoax” meant to take him down? On Jan. 22, he announced: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”
One month later, on Feb. 24, Trump tweeted, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. … Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”
On March 6, Boss Trump visited the Centers for Disease Control. He said scientists there were awed by his knowledge of immunology. “Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?”’ Trump boasted. “Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”
Or maybe he’s just full of it. I believe no doctor said any such thing. But who’s going to contradict Trump? A dedicated professional like Dr. Fauci has a profound duty to do as much as he can in the face of the crisis. We’ve all seen what happens to government professionals who contradict the boss.
Then there was this classic Trumpian pronouncement, explaining why he prevented a cruise ship infected with the COVID-19 virus from docking: “I like the numbers being where they are,” he said. “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”
Got that? Trump wanted the Grand Princess, with more than 3,000 souls on board, to remain at sea — essentially a huge, floating petri dish of contagion. Not for the sake of passengers and crew, but his own political convenience. If a crasser, more amoral pronouncement has been made by an American president, I’d like to know what it is.
Oh, and this: “I don’t take responsibility at all,” Trump said in response to a reporter’s “nasty” question about dumping the White House pandemic response team apparently just because President Obama had created it.
Trump pretended no knowledge of any such thing.
Down at the county courthouse, this is known as the “Some Other Dude Done It” defense. It almost never works.
Meanwhile, the court flatterers on Fox News have pivoted on a dime. Yesterday’s Democratic hoax is today’s existential crisis, and Trump’s bold, decisive leadership has protected us all.
Seriously, that’s the new Trumpist line: Big Brother was always right.
Except on the crackpot fringes, it’s not going to play. This time, Trump’s sheer, malign incompetence is going to cost thousands their livelihoods and lives. All but the most far gone cultists will turn against him.
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