We’ve put up with a lot as a nation over the years. But whatever your political party, the latest antics from President Trump, during a global pandemic which has killed more than 25,000 Americans, seal the deal: We need out of this mess for good.
Our threshold for the absolutely absurd and the inarguably indefensible has been fairly high, considering just how far Trump has pushed the boundaries of decency and incompetence.
Since the day he was elected, there has been a near constant-barrage of collateral damage — all the stuff that came with him when a mere 27% of the eligible voting population ushered him into office.
There has been the unconventional and brash governing style, a revolving door of staffers and Cabinet members, a steep learning curve in the rules of governance, an inability to admit to failures, a hostility toward the press, etc.
And some of the fallout has been truly galling, from his administration’s anti-immigrant policies that put kids in cages at the border to his clandestine attempts to interfere in our elections.
The baggage has not just been for his detractors, but for his supporters, too, who put up with his juvenile tweets, his unhinged attacks on perceived enemies (including even a teenage climate activist with Asperger’s syndrome) and a politics of distraction that kept many of their favored policies from being accomplished.
From Republicans’ point of view, obsession with bringing down Trump also unleashed an unending flood of investigations by Democrats and a failed attempt to remove him from office.
As consumed as we were by the dizzying rollercoaster that has been Trump’s presidency, all of that looks like kids’ stuff compared to the carnival ride from hell we are all on now.
This wasn’t inevitable. On a practical level, we could be in better shape today had another administration been better equipped to deal with this pandemic. As two epidemiologists write in the New York Times this week, we could have saved thousands of lives had coronavirus been taken more seriously, earlier.
“[A]n estimated 90% of the cumulative deaths in the United States from COVID-19, at least from the first wave of the epidemic, might have been prevented by putting social distancing policies into effect two weeks earlier, on March 2, when there were only 11 deaths in the entire country.”
This administration was woefully and unforgivably unprepared for this pandemic, and this president has spent weeks dodging accountability for clear failures, which I outlined in an earlier column — time and resources that could have been better used to catch us up and control the outbreak.
Instead, Trump has used this horrific health crisis to stoke more division, to attack governors and the media, to boost his reelection campaign and to needlessly confuse the American public. Even if you can accept that his administration was unprepared at the beginning, there is no excuse for his behavior since then.
There is no excuse for turning a press briefing into a campaign rally, where Trump used an opportunity to inform the American people to instead play a bizarre video of mashup clips attacking his critics.
There is no excuse for Trump’s shadow war on experts at a time when we need them most. He has contradicted his own doctors and scientists publicly and privately, and sewn a public distrust in any authority but him. He’s allowed his followers to stoke nonsensical conspiracy theories about Dr. Anthony Fauci, an esteemed public health official, even retweeting a #FireFauci tweet.
And there is no excuse for Trump’s brazen and unconstitutional power grab. Trump has tried to bully the states either into doing what he wants or praising his response. And his latest exercise in despotism — “When somebody’s president of the United States, the authority is total” — was a disaster. Republicans and Democrats alike clapped back. Even some of his staunchest conservative defenders hammered the assertion and eventually he was forced to retreat.
This is utter lunacy. Why are we putting up with it?
We’ve grown complacent about Trump’s obvious incompetence and unmanageable mania, numbed by the inundation of idiocy over the past three years. But now it’s costing American lives, and we are all still in the crosshairs of his ineptitude.
Fortunately, there’s a mechanism to stop the insanity and excise the cancerous rot from atop our leadership in November. But I’m not sure that we can afford to wait that long.
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