In times of crisis, the American people want and expect their leaders to exhibit wisdom and compassion. Difficult problems require both intelligence and judgment to resolve, and at least the appearance of sympathy for the hardships facing the average citizen. The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is just such a circumstance. Unfortunately, the United States is currently stuck with Donald Trump who has none of these qualities.
The single most reliable feature of Trump's character (or lack thereof) is his unflinching determination to always do only what is best for him. This selfishness is evident in his reckless and greed-driven proposals to “reopen” the country before any public health expert considers it safe. It's obvious in his obsession with the polls and TV ratings that define his self-worth. There is virtually nothing that Trump addresses in his Coronavirus Task Force briefings (that he has hijacked and turned into 2020 reelection events) that isn't directly attached to his personal welfare.
On Monday morning, while the nation was trying to cope with ever more troubling news concerning the spreading pandemic, Trump was, as usual, manning his Twitter machine and pounding out dangerous falsehoods, childish platitudes, and tributes to himself. Among the tweets that he posted was one that was particularly offensive:
What's “bad for America” is a president who repeatedly maligns the free press in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people.” It's fair to say that it's also bad when a president is so stupid that he doesn't understand that all businesses are presently struggling due to a virtual economic shutdown made necessary by Trump's negligence and incompetence. Among the businesses that are experiencing financial difficulties are those owned by Trump. In fact, many are currently closed and his net worth has declined by thirty percent.
However, what's truly repulsive about this tweet is that Trump is openly gleeful that American media companies are being hurt financially along with the rest of the country. These are businesses whose mission is to keep the American people informed, sometimes at great risk to themselves. This is especially difficult when the president is a pathological liar. But they are also businesses that employ tens of thousands of Americans. Clearly Trump couldn't care less about these people, their families, and communities.
It's further proof of Trump's ignorance that he doesn't know whether the press is suffering financially because of the quality of their reporting or the impact of a global pandemic. Trump is just exploiting the issue to bash the media, which prior to this coronavirus outbreak was having a banner year in both viewership and revenue. And it must be driving him crazy(er) knowing that according to most polls, the American people still trust the media more than they trust Trump.
It's that public disapproval that is likely contributing to Trump's downward spiraling emotional state. Not only has Trump not enjoyed a sustained “rally round the flag” polling bounce, he is at a four month low (44%) with his favorite, unabashedly biased, right-wing pollster, Rasmussen. That's gotta hurt. But it shouldn't hurt so much that it drives Trump to celebrate the misfortune of thousands of American workers. That's on Trump.
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