On Tuesday evening, Donald Trump took a rare step outside of his protective Fox News bunker for a town hall style interview on ABC with George Stephanopoulos. It was a pitiful spectacle of prideful ignorance and shameless lying. In other words, business as usual for Trump.
Among the many dangerously dishonest departures from reality disseminated by The Donald were his bizarre defenses of his incompetent and deadly mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to spreading many of the same falsehoods he's been putting out for months, Trump contradicted himself by denying that he downplayed the severity of COVID-19 (which he admitted to in the new book, RAGE! by Bob Woodward), while also insisting that he did downplay it in an effort to avoid creating a panic. So Trump was simultaneously downplaying it and not downplaying it, a feat only possible by an acutely disturbed psychotic (which is pretty much what America thinks of Trump).
When the discussion came around to the development of a vaccine, Trump managed to surprise Stephanopoulos with a claim that no public health expert or epidemiologist would give any credibility to. That led to this exchange:
STEPHANOPOULOS: It would go away without the vaccine?
TRUMP: Sure, over a period of time. Sure, with time it goes away.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And many deaths.
TRUMP: And you'll develop — you'll develop herd — like a herd mentality. It's going to be — it's going to be herd-developed, and that's going to happen. That will all happen.
First of all, Trump's cognitive infirmity produced a glitch that resulted in his reference to “herd mentality” when he likely meant “herd immunity.” Herd mentality is something completely different, but familiar to those who study cult behaviors. Which may explain why it was on Trump's mind.
More to the point. Trump is proposing a “solution” to the pandemic that would be nothing less than catastrophic. The herd immunity to which Trump was trying to refer is a process that requires 60-80% of the population to become infected. By even the most conservative estimates, that would result in more than two million American deaths.
What makes this all the worse is that Trump knows this horrifying fact and is apparently comfortable with it. That was not always the case. Back in April Trump addressed this subject and forthrightly rejected the concept of herd immunity:
“At a news briefing centered on the virus, Trump was asked about Sweden’s decision to embrace a 'herd immunity' approach to it, allowing it to spread widely enough that there would be enough people with immunity to slow the spread. 'I think we could have followed that approach,' Trump said of Sweden's strategy. 'And if we did follow that approach, I think we might have 2 million people dead.'”
So five months ago Trump opposed herd immunity and the prospect of millions of fatalities. But now, as the number of American deaths approaches 200,000, he's embracing it without concern for the victims. And he's doing everything he can to achieve herd immunity at the expense of his own cult followers. He is gathering them into indoor facilities without adhering to his own CDC guidelines that call for social distancing and face masks.
Unfortunately, the herd/ignoramus mentality practiced by these glassy-eyed Trump disciples will also put the rest of us at risk. As they spread out in the communities where they live and work they will expose people to the virus who would never have attended a Trump revival meeting. So those of us who are not brain damaged StormTrumpers will need to be extra careful in the coming weeks. And hopefully, with determination and hard work, we will evict Trump and his ghoulish confederacy of traitors from our White House.
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