Donald Trump’s closest advisers and fiercest political opponents all seem to agree on one question: Why is the president so stupid about COVID-19? Ignoring the pandemic won’t make it go away, as Trump should know from firsthand experience with Donald Jr. (Allegedly!) Containing the virus because it’s killing people is his best shot at re-election.
The Washington Post explored this issue in an article today, and the headline is hilarious.
Yes, it’s a question for the ages: Why won’t Trump try harder … or at all … to manage this crisis? Like Poe’s “Purloined Letter,” the answer’s right there in plain sight: Trump’s malignant narcissism and sociopathic personality make it impossible for him to respond appropriately to a crisis on the scale of COVID-19.
In fairness, Trump is also lazy, and managing a pandemic is hard. He can’t bully it with mean nicknames like “Low Energy.” He’s tried racial slurs, but that also has no medicinal value. It’s even less effective than a bleach cocktail. However, he’s demonstrated at least three common sociopathic traits throughout the outbreak: Inability to make long term plans (no national testing strategy), no consideration for his own safety or others (his resistance to wearing masks and promoting social distancing), and lack of guilt or remorse (he literally said he doesn’t “take responsibility at all” for COVID-19 while instructing his minions to blame China).
Trump Thrives on Cruelty
Trump’s supporters thought it was neat to elect a sociopath and unleash him on people they don’t like. The cruelty was the point, to quote Adam Serwer, and it worked like gangbusters for the past three years. Trump’s administration, staffed with ghouls like Stephen Miller, actively worked to harm marginalized groups, from attempted Muslim bans and the dehumanization of transgender Americans. There were kids in goddamn cages!
However, nothing demonstrates how much of a shared community we actually are than a highly infectious disease. Trump still boasts about closing the border to China, because that’s his reflexive response to any perceived threat. But no WALL can keep his supporters safe from COVID-19, not now.
For many, however, the question is why Trump did not adjust sooner, realizing that the path to nearly all of his goals — from an economic recovery to an electoral victory in November — runs directly through a healthy nation in control of the virus.
This is another question that reveals how much of a monster Trump is. The president of the United States should ensure the nation stays healthy for no other reason than he’s sworn to protect us. But he even considers his constitutional duties to be transactional. The people close to Trump are probably no less evil than he is but they are moderately more intelligent and realize the president can’t win re-election when hundreds of thousands of people have died on his watch.
In the past couple of weeks, senior advisers began presenting Trump with maps and data showing spikes in coronavirus cases among “our people” in Republican states, a senior administration official said. They also shared projections predicting that virus surges could soon hit politically important states in the Midwest — including Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the official said.
Our people. That’s the twisted mentality within the White House right now.
Many of those states that were “Republican” in 2016 — Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, perhaps even Ohio — are likely to flip to Joe Biden on Election Day, but that’s not why Trump should give a damn. Americans live there. Human beings live there. During this crisis, borders are pointless, both morally and medically. It doesn’t matter if you’re from New York or Georgia. You still don’t deserve to die because of the government’s negligence.
On election night 2008, Barack Obama declared that “we have never been a collection of red states and blue states; we are, and always will be, the United States of America.” COVID-19 demanded a president who could see more than just enemies and allies of convenience. We needed a leader who felt a personal obligation to everyone. Trump’s advisers might jolt him into temporary action, some performative resolve, but even people in “Republican states” are realizing that he’s a complete failure, as a president and a man.
Stephen Robinson on Twitter.
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