Stop me if you heard this before: Unpopular Republican president that citizens generally view as incompetent is confronted with a crisis and bungles it… badly. Yeah, 2005, August, George W. Bush. Hurricane Katrina. You know, the Kanye West “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” thing–frightened victims sitting on roofs begging for help in Louisiana. The head of FEMA, a horse trainer or some such, in way over his head. Federal government stumbling around. The Superdome in New Orleans a flophouse. People dying. That has pretty much been the “Jump the Shark” demarcation for the past two presidents. Kind of like putting the suffix “gate” at the end of political scandals since Nixon. Fast-forward fifteen years. There appears to be a global pandemic on our hands and an unpopular idiot is in the White House. I guess you can call him a Republican, although he does a ton of random shit that has nothing to do with Republican traditions, but okay. And once again, bungled.
The question is will this be as historically or even short-term as damaging as Katrina was for Bush to this president, who unlike Bush, is seeking re-election?
Or, maybe it’s worse.
Thus far it has been. Trump’s approval ratings, not stellar at any point in this first-term quagmire, have steadily dropped since this thing hit American shores, and he has not helped matters.
The optics and truth on the ground is that for all intents and purposes the response on the global and now domestic outbreak of COVID-19, or as it is more widely known, the latest trend of human coronavirus, has been abysmal. First, the President ignored and mocked it. This is his thing. But like almost everything Trump deems a hoax–Russian interference in our 2016 election, his impeachable offenses being investigated and prosecuted, paying off porn stars for sex, climate change, North Korean aggression, etc.–coronavirus was spreading fast and he could no longer rely on the great unwashed at his base to help him tweet it away.
So, he told everyone it was contained and overrated, a media invention—like his shitty approval ratings and orange tan, or his playing golf half the time, which he did for the first week of this crisis. To slap some lipstick on this pig, he put on a baseball cap and lied about everyone being able to get a test for it. It’s been ten days since this nonsense. Hardly anyone can be tested.
This was around the time he put the Vice President in charge. You know, the science denier in chief. Actually, after two or three days of Trump ranting about Democrats inventing a disease to hurt him, Mike Pence has been fairly effective. He at least let the doctors speak during press conferences, instead of standing there while the game show host rambles on about how he is unfairly treated. Because, of course, a global pandemic is all about him. Jesus Christ, it is hard to believe there is still a human breathing who is not retching every time this moron opens his mouth.
Okay, so there was then more lying by Trump and the comically said, “Everyone should just go to work.” There is a slow and sloppy response to a hurricane and then there is the president reportedly pitching a payroll tax cut to officials in private that had better last until he is re-elected and then silencing a medical warning for the elderly not to fly to quell the “bad news” cycle. This takes things from goofy to evil.
So, yeah, this has been pretty bad, and although it looks–after three weeks–as if the government is slowly catching up to, say, the National Basketball Association (canceling the remainder of its season) and the Democratic Party Committee (holding a presidential debate without an audience and then moving it to DC), Trump kept his plans on having a rally, until it became untenable for him.
Then came time for his oval office address.
Now, for a man preternaturally incapable of empathy, making a calm fireside assurance or somber address is not a good look. It was like watching a monkey try and open a can of tuna with its dick. The President, looking perturbed that he had to do this at all, opened with us being hit with a “foreign virus” and mocked China and Europe and said some things about how Americans are better than all of them before telling the world there would be a travel ban from and to Europe, including goods and products. He made some odd campaign pitch to bail out frackers and breathed like a man about keep over. When he was done there was a scramble to correct the President on several points, not the least of which was the import/export gaff, which he then corrected with a tweet. There would be trade. He thinks. Well, maybe. Mostly it looked like Kevin Bacon shouting “All is well!” before the rioting horde literally flattens him in the closing mayhem scene in Animal House. No mention of tests being made available or hinting at domestic travel and this containment things he assured us almost a month ago. Even Republicans were “disturbed.” Wall Street followed up with having the worst day on the Dow since 1987 and Disney World closed.
This is what happens when truth and leadership are bandied about on cable news as in the eye of the beholder. Alternative facts may be fun on FOX News, but now people are getting sicker and some are dying, and this is happening in a country that panics on the turn of a dime. Having a game show host in charge turns out, again, to not be the best move.
Hopefully we survive this. But like Katrina, it’s going to have to happen in spite of our leadership, not because of it.