Some people (including Lauren Reiff, posting on Medium) think Donald John (‘Grab ’em by the …) Trump remains on track to secure a second term. Some people apparently don’t think the sky actually is falling… in large part due to the (ongoing) mismanagement of the greatest crisis to hit this country since… ever.
Shortly before starting to write this, on what has to be the quietest Sunday afternoon this country (and the world) has known in my 77 years (and way longer than that), I had a chat with a dear friend who, given the least opportunity, will launch into a tirade about how “the left” is politicizing the current COVID-19-caused crisis — or any issue, come to that — besetting this country and the world.
Like many of the ‘true believers’ — in what, I can’t fathom — forming Trump’s base, they won’t be easily shaken from the belief that, if not the second coming, Trump is akin to the proverbial greatest thing since sliced bread. What was needed, they believe, to infiltrate, and disrupt, American politics more severely than anything has in the lifetime of this country.
Why? Many Will Be Wondering
But over the next few weeks, as millions of those people are forced to remain virtually barricaded in their homes, cut off from jobs, social interactions, and shopping opportunities, many of then are likely to wonder why the current state of affairs, um, is.
Was it truly not possible to do something — anything!! — in late January, when the government became well aware of the risk the China-born coronavirus posed to the rest of the world? While China did in very early January attempt to play down the significance of the virus, it’s locking down of literally tens of millions of its citizens — effectively bringing its economy to a standstill — should have been a strong hint, even in retrospect, that something serious was wrong. It’s rapid expansion of the lockdown from the source city, Wuhan, should have been a further suggestion that, given the nature of international travel these days, that coronavirus was about to become a global problem.
(We learned in recent days that, in late January, leading scientists informed congress folk in ‘closed door’ sessions that, indeed, a crisis of unimaginable seriousness was dawning. Sadly, some of those same congress folk didn’t just not spread that word amongst their colleagues, they instead sold their stock holdings in at-risk companies. Pay attention to the media for more on this.)
Trump & Crew Remained Eyes-Closed
But publicly, the Trump administration wasn’t seeing it. Trump himself continued to downplay the issue, saying the virus “isn’t serious” and it “will go away” and, in effect, all will be well.
Well, all ain’t well, by any stretch of the imagination. Trump can stand at the podium before the press and say as immodestly as he wishes what ‘a great job’ he’s been doing in unleashing federal resources on the now-global scourge. He can try in every possible way to put a bright or hopeful face on a situation where ‘hope’ is yet a distant dream. He can, as he does almost daily, make statements regarding virus developments and other ‘progress’ that, on that same podium, are immediately contradicted by his chosen health experts.
He can, as he did last week, even sign the Defense Production Act, that provides authorization for the government (through the president) to require manufactures to switch production to needed items, such as today’s much-in-demand ventilators, and masks, and plastic gloves… but when you don’t actually invoke the act — bring it to bear — what was the point?
Thinking Time, Amongst The Home-Bound, Can Be Risky For Trump
Some of those people with all that free at-home time may actually tune in to presidential press briefings that are occurring nearly daily. If they pay attention, they may notice how the actually-accurate press is questioning his ‘fake news’ exaggerations of how ‘well’ or ‘good’ or ‘great’ (he and) this country are doing to be ‘on top of’ the virus and, yes, move us toward being great again.
Some might even notice how he tends, as he did recently to Peter Alexander, an NBC reporter for NBC news, to attack, not reasonably respond to questions. Alexander asked the president, “What do you say to all the Americans who, right now, are scared?”
Instead of using the opportunity to rise to the occasion to deliver a Presidential message of reassurance and hope to the American people, Trump lashed out viciously at the reporter:
A “Very Bad Signal”? Hi, Pot; I’m Kettle
“That’s a nasty question,” he shot back from the podium, and, “you’re a terrible reporter. And I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people.”
In all likelihood, many in Trump’s base will applaud such responses. But many individuals now forced to have more ‘thinking time’ than they’ve enjoyed (!) in years, people who are struggling with questions about how they are going to pay make rent or mortgage payments, or keep the lights on, or put even way-cheaper gas in their cars, they are likely, as the days, weeks and even months drag by, to want to lay blame somewhere for how we got where we are.
Mr. ‘I’ve got it covered’ Trump will be a good target.
The stock market has lost, in the past two weeks, all it gained during the entire term of the Trump presidency. So much for his ‘booming economy’. And while oil price declines (due not solely to lack of demand as people travel less, but also because Russia and Saudi Arabia are engaged in an oil price war) are benefitting most (including the barely-driving majority of) Americans, they are also threatening to cost thousands of Americans working in oil recovery their jobs.
What The Frack!!
Offshore oil is one thing; More critical, in this instance, is the oil being recovered from deep-buried onshore shale through ‘fracking’. That segment of the industry needs oil to be selling at $50 a barrel to be profitable. It’s presently selling at less than $30. The latter segment has become increasingly important in recent years, employing thousands of people in hot spots across the country. Many of those jobs are now — and possibly for a long time — at risk.
You don’t have to go far or know a lot of people to personally experience, or at least be aware of, the job cutbacks in recent weeks. Stores and restaurants are closed. Roads are empty. Clerks on convenience stores where you buy gas don’t look as happy as used to. No one does.
Today, everyone, as the saying goes, has a story. For some, the political story will remain as it’s been. But for others, probably a growing number as this crisis drags on, will question more, reevaluate where they are, in life — as was and will be.
There’s talk that this is an ideal time to think, as a society (in the US, and similarly elsewhere), where we got to a place where we were so unprepared for something so basic as a virus.
Regulations Were Meant To BE
In the US, the answer is simple: Government, under several presidential administrations, has reduced the ‘safety net’ that was created to protect those least able to care for themselves; It — that same over-time government, has either failed to enforce or reduced regulations designed to protect us all from health and similar crises; It has failed, miserably, to act in the public’s interest. At the same time, despite repeated ‘what if’ exercises by government and third party (read ‘industry’) parties, way too little has been done to put in place either procedures or products that a crisis might need ‘right now’.
The US has something called a ‘strategic stockpile’ of various types of ‘stuff’ likely to be in high demand in a crisis. After some unfathomable delays, the Trump administration has begun make some of that stuff available to entities in need of it. That includes, particularly, hospitals and similar service providers.
It’s well known that Trump is an egotist: Everything, in his purview, is about him. In delaying release of strategic stockpile items — including, apparently, desperately needed ventilators — he’s acted as if all that stuff is his, not safely locked away to meet a need of the American people.
Can’t Go Upsetting Those Industrialists, Can We?
He’s refused to invoke the Defense Production Act both because doing so would conflict with his belief in small government and because such an action “would violate the Administration’s free-market economic views”. (It’s also been reported that he hasn’t invoked “because some industry leaders begged him not to.”)
Even though they’ve been hard-core believers for several years now, it’s hard to imagine that less than a sizable bunch of his followers will fail to recognize, over the next few weeks, that his ‘it’s about me’ attitudes are impeding progress — they’re interfering with the sincere efforts of many to get us past this crisis.
Trump is trying to see himself as a ‘wartime president’. In a way, he is. But it’s not his war: It’s one only science can eventually win. His ‘battle’, such as it is, is to convince the American public to cooperate, to ‘hunker down at home’, to see it through… whatever that eventually means. He’s not doing an at-all good job of doing that.
Trump’s eventual downfall, I contend, is his inability to get out of his own way: He needs to be the president he should be — an individual in charge, one who is able, as the AA pledge says, “to accept things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.
Born To Be Self-Promoting… And Untruthful
He simply can’t help lying, and self-promoting, and avoiding dealing — in a forceful way — with matters that need to be dealt with. Many of us have long recognized those facts. Most of his close followers haven’t… yet.
But now, with so much time on their hands, with so much emotion invested in looking forward to an end to this unbelievable burden on us all, some of them — many, perhaps — will do as long-beloved Ann Landers so often advised: and “Wake up and smell the roses”.
The roses aren’t going bloom if Trump is reelected. The gardeners will be still be out of work. As will the Uber drivers, restaurant front-and back-of-house workers, bartenders, food delivery drivers (who used to work for those restaurants), and countless others who performed countless small tasks you’ve barely noticed but long depended on.
I am confident that, between now and November, come what may (and god help us there!), some — hopefully many — in Trump’s base will abandon ship, see reason, and vote for ‘anyone else’.
Joe, or Who Knows?
Right now, that looks like being Joe Biden.
But there’s talk that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo might be an option Democrats might consider: He’s articulate, he’s dealing, intelligently and effectively, with a greater health crisis in his state than ever seen before. He’s calming the public; He’s getting a job that was far from his agenda when he assumed his present position ten years ago.
While the last thing the Democrats need now is a disruption in the supposedly-orderly process of producing a candidate for president, it’s not too late to consider someone who might, just might, be a better flag-bearer that a 77-year-old with lots of ‘issues’. (Among them, he’s been too touchy-feelie with a number of women, albeit innocently, in his view; He’s got a spotty voting record that distresses some people; there are reports that his memory isn’t what it ‘should’ be; He can be abrasive to members of audiences there to see him with a positive face.
Cuomo has fewer negatives, and he’s already got a high, very positive profile.
One way or another, reelection is not in Trump’s future. Moving vans are.