For a brief moment, I thought that the White House daily briefings might reveal a Trump that, at last, was taking the virus threat seriously; that he would provide helpful information about what we should be doing and what actions the government was taking. Silly me. I should have known better. It’s now obvious that these “updates” have rapidly devolved into propaganda opportunities — a substitute for the rallies that Trump can no longer hold — complete with lies and misinformation, undeserved self-praise, phony plaudits from sycophants, lambasting his favorite targets (e.g., the media) and attacking made-up enemies (“the Chinese virus”). To the extent that people believe this crap, the briefings are actually harmful — which is why there is an increasing call to stop live-broadcasting the briefings .
As always, Trump is most concerned with how people perceive what he is doing. He wants to be admired. But again as always, he has no clue how to do this in a way that would gain deserved wide-spread approval. Rather than taking actions that might get the approval he seeks, he views this as a PR opportunity. It’s all a show. It’s all about marketing — creating the impression he is doing something worthy — even if he is doing nothing but harm.
When the history of this time is written, there is no doubt that Trump’s early refusal to take the virus seriously — even when he had overwhelming evidence to the contrary — will be cited as a major cause for why things got so bad. My concern is that, in the short run, as the situation gradually improves months from now, all of this will be temporarily forgotten. Once again, Trump will not be held accountable.
Even now…too many people are not taking the virus threat seriously. Just today, a WaPo article offered this quote from a man at a Florida lunch-spot: “We all started laughing and agreeing because we all said, ’We’re here, we’re going out, and the media is hyping this to get at Trump.’”
I take some solace in knowing that not all people are that crazy; there are still many people who are working hard and working together to stop this virus. But it’s hard for me not to hate what this country has become under Trump. I am both enraged and despondent. The branch I cling to is that Trump will not get re-elected. That cannot happen.
Update: April 1: A president unfit for a pandemic. Whoa! This Boston Globe editorial lays out the case against Trump as well as anything I have read so far.