The pandemic that exposes the full Trump pandemic

We are about to test whether Trump can win re-election by crushing Bush-Cheney’s formidable record as the most inhumanely destructive, financially irresponsible presidency in our history.

Image Credot: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Just when we need a good Democrat, we get the worst Republican

Ironic gifts courtesy of disease drama and home imprisonment, there really is good news amidst the carnage. Trump is revealing on national TV his utter gracelessness under pressure, precisely what the majority knew all along.  Faced with a complex crisis — with way too much math, medicine and science for any TV has-been, he’s revealing every flaw in his flawed character — on the same media that dared elevated him.  Fate does have its little jokes: he who lives by clownish bluffing gets bushwhacked by backfiring propaganda.

When has any president committed more unforced, uncorrected errors in such a short time? We’re talking not just zero good faith (“I take no responsibility” for anything) but projections of fantasy cures (absent mandatory trials) that his own medical experts are forced to contradict. Comic were it not tragic: nothing extends a pandemic like rampant make-believe, astronomically raising final pandemic costs, human and otherwise.

A competent demagogue gets away lying about stuff that’s hard to refute, but when Pinocchio-like deceptions (“nothing to worry about”) spike public death tolls, expect thunderous political costs.  Who needs banished CDC health researchers when global pandemics occur, say, only once a decade? Thrift, thrift, Horatio. Never has the “what-me-worry” president come across more as self-deluded Doofus-in-chief. Will Trumpers spend eternity denying everything real — even what killed, then prematurely dispatched them? Rather a high price simply for ignoring all evidence and being repeatedly suckered.

Elections have consequences

No top Democrat, however articulate, brilliant or visionary (all one of her) can exile Trump with more force than the latest dramatic role he embraced, as ill-tempered, aggrieved movie villain punished by true germs and devastating “fake news.” Thus does this anti-president fall short of every superior fiture who responded to crises by being Consoler-in-chief, sincere or not, if not Educator-in-chief. That makes the greatest pandemic victim (aside from fatalities) the Liar-in-Chief himself, unmasked because his perversity forever cements him to the political kiss of death: wiping out his own citizens. In high numbers. If Trump is re-elected, after stunts, stupidity and subterfuge, America deserves what it gets: a fiasco of depravity. In contrast, the dubious Dubya after 9/11 looks nearly Lincolnesque — by any other measure a laughable fiction.

When chaos as now demands leadership, even tolerable competence, the worst side of this worst president surfaces. First denial (no problema), then deflection (we’re all ready), then deception (yes, tests under every rock), then forced reversal (hey, no one told me about pandemics, that they actually kill people). Name one corporate board, faced with such chicanery, that wouldn’t met out Trump’s infamous line, “You’re fired”? 

But no, we shield presidents from undue persecution (funny, considering Trump’s boundless persecution complex).  This impeached bully won’t now be fired, whatever malfeasance or bilious outpourings. Today’s predictable blunders provide another telling, belated framework by which to sharply judge all those senators who defied conviction. They had the chance to limit the damage. But, I pause for the good news: what if this ongoing episode makes Trump unelectable — so perfectly timed there’s no real stand-in? Bravo for the mysterious, redemptive workings of fate.

Handing Biden the election?

Yes, even against Status Quo Joe (ah, the good-old-days, pre-Trump). To everyone’s great surprise, even his own, Biden stands atop the Democratic Party. Who imagined — an even greater surprise — Bernie’s best chance to win was four years ago? Fate weirdly giveth and taketh.  How do Sanders’ fans reconcile how an unpredictable pandemic wounds support for Bernie– blessed with a potent health plan — at the same time buttressing Biden — stuck with a tired, discredited plan? Yet, as the avoidable death toll mounts, Trump is IMO more vulnerable to losing, even a potential rout. You heard it here first.

That makes Status Quo Joe the luckiest politician since Donald Huckster squeezed past a more qualified Hilary. Biden will face a jumbled, disgraced “set of reflexes” who alone “can’t fix” his own rants, let alone incoherent press conferences studded with contradictions. What’s a loyal Trumper to believe? More on point, what if key purple state centrists start thinking new thoughts — like this guy’s a total loser?  How long will they trust the Humiliation-in-chief when gruesome statistics riddle hometown papers? For me, Trump has met finally his epic, inevitable destiny: too much reality, short-circuiting too many sham escapades. Trump’s defiance of in-house warnings makes this pandemic the perfect bulwark to expose the endlessly self-serving character at the core of all criminal “geniuses.”  

High costs, higher negligence

If we can ever collate the massive, accumulating downsides — job suspensions, market crashes, physical suffering, lives lost, productivity gone, a whopper of a recession — the ultimate costs for Trump’s magical thinking are inestimable, larger than all past disease crises put together.  The Trump presidency is nothing less than a grievous, widening gyre of assaults against America, wiping out blue collar savings and pensions, abusing minority, poor, and immigrant/family populations — jailing innocent children. The preposterous bill for Trumpian failures has come due — certainly eclipsing that other monumental debacle of waste, the Iraq war. This pandemic culminates the collective losses we all will pay for three years of staggeringly bad governance, and the final tab for this runaway health crisis won’t come for months—or years.

Sure, a global pandemic would have hit us, but not with a cost that multiplied the entire ’08 recession dumpster. Like that senator who sarcastically quipped about billions, a trillion here, a trillion there, eventually, it amounts to real money. We are about to test whether Trump can win re-election by crushing Bush-Cheney’s formidable record as the most inhumanely destructive, financially irresponsible presidency in our history. If today’s squandered trillions cripple America’s ability to solve real generational problems, like infrastructure or climate change, whither the legacy of Trumpism? 

If criminal mismanagement (ignoring early disease warnings in Jan.) to maintain face doesn’t invoke memories of earlier Trump debacles, what will? It’s not as if we didn’t know Trump’s blasted US credit record forced him into the hands of Russian oligarchs. It’s not as if this yahoo can change his stripes. For Trumpers who voted for “disruption,” what if that impoverishes them, their children and grandchildren? And unlike jailed, indicted or discredited criminal pals, Trump is at large and (marginally) in charge.

One strains to wonder how today’s younger Trumpers will tell grandchildren why they were snookered by our most obvious, sustained crookery. Likely, no embarrassed Trumper will remind anyone, as Joe McCarthy defenders stay mute. History won’t be any kinder to Trump than to the undefended McCarthy — and a second term is unthinkable.  If we escape that horror, let’s all thank a tiny viral invader that facilitated national salvation.  Whatever does the trick. The die appears cast.


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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.