With his catastrophic mishandling of the coronavirus, Trump has established himself as the worst president in U.S. history.
Far worse is the human carnage. We already have more confirmed coronavirus cases than any other country. Trump claimed on Feb. 26 that the outbreak would soon be “down to close to zero.” Now he argues that if the death toll is 100,000 to 200,000 — higher than the U.S. fatalities in all of our wars combined since 1945 — it will be proof that he’s done “a very good job.”
No, it will be a sign that he’s a miserable failure, because the coronavirus is the most foreseeable catastrophe in U.S. history. The warnings about the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks were obvious only in retrospect. This time, it didn’t require any top-secret intelligence to see what was coming. The alarm was sounded in January by experts in the media and by leading Democrats including presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Government officials were delivering similar warnings directly to Trump. A team of Post reporters wrote on Saturday: “The Trump administration received its first formal notification of the outbreak of the coronavirus in China on Jan. 3. Within days, U.S. spy agencies were signaling the seriousness of the threat to Trump by including a warning about the coronavirus —the first of many—in the President’s Daily Brief.” But Trump wasn’t listening.
This fiasco is so monumental that it makes our recent failed presidents — George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — Mount Rushmore material by comparison. Trump’s Friday night announcement that he’s firing the intelligence community inspector general who exposed his attempted extortion of Ukraine shows that he combines the ineptitude of a George W. Bush or a Carter with the corruption of Richard Nixon.
Press access and co-dependency:
When he dismisses a question or questioner with abuse and disdain, The others fall in line and bow down. Almost never follow by asking the dismissed question again. And come back again and again to cover his phony press conferences that give him hours of free campaign time. 2/— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) April 6, 2020
When he refused to let Fauci answer a question, no reporters stepped up to do what a genuinely independent free press united to find the truth would do: ask the question again and again. Most frustrating is these “enemies of the people” are digging the grave of a free press.— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) April 6, 2020
Yesterday was the first time in the COVID daily briefings that Trump has mentioned the 2018 “Right to Try” as the reason for insistence on untested treatments, confabulating them with cures and vaccines. He has mentioned the talking point several times in campaign rallies but it has now returned to exploit fear in order to win the election.
It is an extension of the RW discourse of deregulation for medical messaging. It represents the desperate time (the reasons for DNR do-not-resuscitate orders) for terminally-ill patients, that false hope can be prescribed. Not unlike Terri Shiavo and Bill Frist, desperation can be manipulated for religious and political effect.
Trump is doing just that, looking for COVID-19 medical miracles that might provide the nearly last-ditch political miracle for his 2020 campaign. Truly a Hail Mary. He needs poster children, and confusing FDA approval with other expert opinions is appealing to his GOP base.
While these choices may imperil congregations, a long history of competition with science predisposes some American Pentecostals (as many as one-fourth of the population) to ignore experts’ recommendations for prolonged social distancing. For Pentecostals, who covet authority in public life, their continued importance to the Republican electoral coalition and Trump’s presidency offer real opportunities to challenge the scientific community’s authority and assert their own.
It was into this context of competition between lower-class and rising middle-class Americans that Pentecostalism embraced new worship styles that challenged authority figures. Speaking in unknown tongues became the movement’s calling card, but early Pentecostals also innovated a Holy Spirit who knocked elites off their high horses. True, anyone might find themselves knocked down to the floor by the Spirit’s power in early Pentecostal revivals, but it was particularly enjoyable when well-dressed preachers ended up, as one account put it, crying on the floor like little children.
Enter Trump. He embodies Pentecostals’ quest to prioritize religion over science; he defunds scientific expertise in government agencies while promoting prayer in schools, downplays the importance of climate change and has instituted a division of Conscience and Religious Freedom in the Department of Health and Human Services, designed to protect health care providers’ right to refuse services in accordance with their consciences. As Sarah Pulliam Bailey writes, believers welcomed Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, in part, because they interpret climate advocates as trying to push Christianity out of the public square.
With his rhetoric about D.C.’s swamp and his embrace of Christian values and policy priorities, Trump has expertly tapped into Pentecostals’ long history of populist anti-elitism, skepticism toward expertise and resistance of scientific norms. Pentecostals who believe science should be subordinated to religious commitments in public affairs are gratified by the supportive tenor of President Trump’s presidency.
The distribution of material has a red-state bias and needs a lot more investigation:
Stay with me. I don’t think I’m crazy. It sure looks like a logical conclusion to me. There is a pattern.— MOOLA – – 🗣 DON’T COUP or COVID 🐍 ON ME (@MooPersists) April 6, 2020
Look how ventilators and PPE are distributed to liberal states vs. say Florida —who got everything it asked for:
| Washington Posthttps://t.co/P2CIg6JsXI#TrumpIsALoser 🦠
This has been my fear all along. Which is why Dems who don't vote in primaries claiming Bernie dropping out would end the primary (like nothing else is on the ballots???) was infuriating and low-key voter suppression. But this–read this.#COVID19UShttps://t.co/Qh6Cje8Zr8 …— Victoria Brownworth #TaxTheRich🎃💀 (@VABVOX) April 6, 2020