If we had a real leader, he would have realized that tragedies like 100,000 Covid-19 deaths touch something deeper than politics: They touch our shared vulnerability and our profound and natural sympathy for one another.
In such moments, a real leader steps outside of his political role and reveals himself uncloaked and humbled, as someone who can draw on his own pains and simply be present with others as one sufferer among a common sea of sufferers.
If we had a real leader, he would be bracingly honest about how bad things are, like Churchill after the fall of Europe. He would have stored in his upbringing the understanding that hard times are the making of character, a revelation of character and a test of character. He would offer up the reality that to be an American is both a gift and a task.
If we had a real leader, she would remind us of our common covenants and our common purposes. America is a diverse country joined more by a common future than by common pasts. In times of hardships real leaders re-articulate the purpose of America, why we endure these hardships and what good we will make out of them.
- After the Challenger explosion, Reagan reminded us that we are a nation of explorers and that the explorations at the frontiers of science would go on, thanks in part to those who “slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.”
- At Gettysburg, Lincoln crisply described why the fallen had sacrificed their lives — to show that a nation “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” can long endure and also to bring about “a new birth of freedom” for all the world.
Of course, right now we don’t have a real leader. We have Donald Trump, a man who can’t fathom empathy or express empathy, who can’t laugh or cry, love or be loved — a damaged narcissist who is unable to see the true existence of other human beings except insofar as they are good or bad for himself.
But it’s too easy to offload all blame on Trump. Trump’s problem is not only that he’s emotionally damaged; it is that he is unlettered. He has no literary, spiritual or historical resources to draw upon in a crisis.
Right now, science and the humanities should be in lock step: science producing vaccines, with the humanities stocking leaders and citizens with the capacities of resilience, care and collaboration until they come. But, instead, the humanities are in crisis at the exact moment history is revealing how vital moral formation really is.
In the past few days Donald Trump has:
- Cranked up the volume on his pointless cold wars with China and Iran
- Turned mask wearing into a culture war campaign issue
- Accused a TV host of murdering an intern
- Declared war on voting by mail
- Insisted that James Comey and a variety of others should be in jail
- Pushed an absurd “unmasking” non-scandal
- Insisted that Barack Obama personally led a spying campaign against him
- Retweeted a video saying “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat”
- Retweeted QAnon conspiracy theories
All of this has happened in the midst of an enormous pandemic which should be occupying all his time. Instead he’s virtually ignoring it because he can’t figure out what to do aside from handing it over to his son-in-law and then hauling out his iPhone to tweet about something he heard on Fox & Friends.
Is Trump mentally unstable? I don’t know. But he’s sure not mentally all there, is he? What kind of leader decides he can just shut his eyes to a deadly pandemic and instead spend all his time plotting revenge on enemies both real and imagined? Only a mentally deranged one. When will the Republican Party finally realize just what kind of trouble they’ve gotten us into?
From The Guardian by Robert Reich – Donald Trump’s four-step plan to reopen the US economy – and why it will be lethal
An 8 minute video CBS News This Week On Sunday Morning, 4/26/2020
A 3 minute Video: Trump Eliminated KeY US Pandemic Response Team in 2018
More Documentation of Trump’s Failure: Trump’s 100 Days of Deadly Denial
From a friend:
If Trump Had Been Captain of the Titanic
“There isn’t any iceberg. There was an iceberg but it’s in a totally different ocean. The iceberg is in this ocean but it will melt very soon. There is an iceberg but we didn’t hit the iceberg. We hit the iceberg, but the damage will be repaired very shortly. The iceberg is a Chinese iceberg. We are taking on water but every passenger who wants a lifeboat can get a lifeboat, and they are beautiful lifeboats. Look, passengers need to ask nicely for the lifeboats if they want them. We don’t have any lifeboats, we’re not lifeboat distributors. Passengers should have planned for icebergs and brought their own lifeboats. I really don’t think we need that many lifeboats. We have lifeboats and they’re supposed to be our lifeboats, not the passengers’ lifeboats. The lifeboats were left on shore by the last captain of this ship. Nobody could have foreseen the iceberg.”
It is has become obvious the country was not prepared for a pandemic. It is also a fact that Trump ignored multiple warnings from the CDC, the national security team and his advisors. Our lack of preparedness is shocking. Among other things we had inadequate technical staffing, medical supplies and essentially zero testing and virus tracking capabilities. These are documented facts. They are not fake news.
This is documented in a NYT piece: He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus
It is also interesting to compare the US response,delayed and flawed to say the least, with the Korean response, documented by David Leonhardt, NYT Opinion Columnist: Trump’s Role In The Death Toll.
I am starting a new “Unfit To Govern“ post. The original post was getting long.
HuffPost 3/20/2020: Trump Responds To Question About Coronavirus Fears By Bashing ‘Terrible Reporter’
Washington Post Opinion, Stuart Stevens 3/18/2020: Republicans like me built this moment. Then we looked the other way
Stuart Stevens is a writer and Republican political consultant who has advised a pro-Bill Weld super PAC in the 2020 election. His book about the Republican Party, “It Was All A Lie,” will be published next month.
What is happening now is the inevitable result of a party that embraced fear, weaponized xenophobia and regarded facts as dangerous, left-wing landmines that must be avoided.
Yes, elections have consequences. Those of us in the Republican Party built this moment. Now the nation must live with those consequences
A New Mask That Will Save Lives
From Beau’s: A Trump Sandwich
Posts & Articles that speak to the Trump / Republican handling of the current medical / financial crisis:
Paul Krugman 3/9/2020: Trump Can’t Handle the Truth And neither can the rest of America’s right.
Robert Reich 3/9/2020: How to Respond to the National Emergency
In short, our imminent coronavirus and economic crises won’t respond to trickle-down economics.
Instead, Congress must immediately enact an emergency $400 billion.
The money should be used for
1. Coronavirus testing and treatment.
2. Paid sick leave and family leave this year, renewable for next year if necessary.
3. Extended Medicaid and unemployment insurance.
4. Immediate one-time payments of $1000 to every adult and $500 per child, renewable for next year if necessary.
Nicholas Kristof 3/11/2020: 12 steps to Tackle the Coronavirus. President Trump and other health officials need to act immediately, while there is time.
David Leonhardt 3/12/2020: Europe’s Not The Problem.The lack of American tests is.
Vanity Fair 3/12/2020: How Trump Made America Far Less Prepared For Coronavirus.
Paul Krugman 3/19/2020: 3 Rules for Covid-19,The Trump Pandemic.
I’ll leave health policy to the experts. On economic policy, I’d suggest three principles.
First, focus on hardship, not G.D.P.
Second, stop worrying about incentives to work.
Third, don’t trust Trump.
From Jill Colvin / AP: She Lacks Talent & is Mean: Trump when speaking to reporters as he signed an emergency $8.3 billion funding package to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak, Trump was asked whether he thought sexism had anything to do with Warren’s departure from the Democratic presidential race.
“No, I think lack of talent was her problem. She has a tremendous lack of talent,” Trump responded. The president commended her debate performances, saying she “was a good debater” who had “destroyed” the candidacy of former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg “like it was nothing.”
“But people don’t like her,” he went on to say. “She’s a very mean person. … People don’t want that. They like a person like me, that’s not mean.”
In Contrast From Robert Reich: A Heartfelt Thanks to Elizabeth Warren:
Your campaign was a model of substance and tenacity. You made your points about America’s misallocation of power, and the need for structural change, powerfully but without rancor. In a better America and at a better time, you would have sailed to victory.