An older article that has a lot of meaning right now:
Pin it on impeachment.
Yes, each phrase and sentence from T is jaw dropping.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats reassured and inspired the nation through Depression and war. During impeachment last fall, President Trump fancied himself likewise addressing Americans “perhaps as a fireside chat on live television.”
There’s no better time than the present! In these dark times, Americans crave the comfort of competent leadership. I have therefore taken the liberty of drafting for Trump a fireside chat for our times — using entirely his own words.
The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We have it totally under control. I’m not concerned at all. It’s one person coming in from China. We pretty much shut it down. It will all work out well. We’re in great shape. Doesn’t spread widely at all in the United States because of the early actions that myself and my administration took. There’s a chance it won’t spread. It’s something that we have tremendous control over.
Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear. Just stay calm. It will go away. The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. This is their new hoax.
Whatever happens, we’re totally prepared. Totally ready. We’re rated number one for being prepared. We are so prepared like we never have been prepared. Taking early intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States. We’re very much ahead of everything.
The mortality rate is much, much better. In my opinion it’s way, way down. I think it’s substantially below 1 percent. A fraction of 1 percent. I think the numbers are going to get progressively better as we go along. This is just my hunch.
We have very little problem in this country. We only have five people. We only have 11 cases. Out of billions of people, 15 people. They’re getting better, and soon they’re all going to be better, hopefully. We’re going very substantially down, not up.
The United States, because of what I did and what the administration did with China, we have 32 deaths at this point. To this point, and because we have had a very strong border policy, we have had 40 deaths . As of this moment, we have 50 deaths . I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be.
I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. We are very close to a vaccine. A matter of months. You take a solid flu vaccine, you don’t think that could have an impact? Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. Based on very strong evidence.
I like this stuff. I really get it. Maybe I have a natural ability. We think it’s going to have a very good ending. We’re going to win faster than people think. I hope.
This blindsided the world! Who could have ever predicted a thing like this? This was something that nobody has ever thought could happen to this country.
If you’re talking about the virus, no, that’s not under control for anyplace in the world. I was talking about what we’re doing is under control, but I’m not talking about the virus. I didn’t say Easter. It was just an aspiration. I am giving consideration to a QUARANTINE.
o you’re talking about 2.2 million deaths. If we could hold that down…between 100,000 and 200,000, and we all together have done a very good job. START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!! Invoke “P”. I want our life back again.
It was nobody’s fault. No, just things that happened. I don’t take responsibility at all.
Watch as Donald Trump gets all excited about the prospect of “Mexican violence” until he finds it it’s actually “domestic violence.”
His reaction is so damn telling.
When lives are at stake, our “make-it-up-as-you-go” president presents a high level of wanton ignorance and his false front creates irredeemable and unfathomable results.
Call it what you will…TV Reality star meets actual crisis or I’m the boss, and I always know the right answer…who knows. it is just infuriating and just plain wrong.
The Dunning-Kruger effect is a term that describes a psychological phenomenon in which stupid people do not know that they are in fact stupid.
Writing at Pacific Standard, psychologist David Dunning — one of the social psychologists who first documented this type of cognitive bias — describes it in more detail:
In many areas of life, incompetent people do not recognize — scratch that, cannot recognize — just how incompetent they are, a phenomenon that has come to be known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. Logic itself almost demands this lack of self-insight: For poor performers to recognize their ineptitude would require them to possess the very expertise they lack. To know how skilled or unskilled you are at using the rules of grammar, for instance, you must have a good working knowledge of those rules, an impossibility among the incompetent. Poor performers — and we are all poor performers at some things — fail to see the flaws in their thinking or the answers they lack. What’s curious is that, in many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.
The Dunning-Kruger effect manifests in the form of the drunk at the bar who weighs in on every conversation with unwanted advice, the online troll who monopolizes comment sections, or the person who reads one book (or perhaps the introduction) and then acts like an authority on the subject.
Visionary science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov signaled to the Dunning-Kruger effect with his famous observation in 1980: “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
Donald Trump is the Dunning-Kruger president of the United States.
Oh and George Conway III brought this up. Bless his heart.
He deserves it…
Until now, I have generally been reluctant to label Donald Trump the worst president in U.S. history. As a historian, I know how important it is to allow the passage of time to gain a sense of perspective. Some presidents who seemed awful to contemporaries (Harry S. Truman) or simply lackluster (Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush) look much better in retrospect. Others, such as Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson, don’t look as good as they once did.
So I have written, as I did on March 12, that Trump is the worst president in modern times — not of all time. That left open the possibility that James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, Warren Harding or some other nonentity would be judged more harshly. But in the past month, we have seen enough to take away the qualifier “in modern times.” With his catastrophic mishandling of the coronavirus, Trump has established himself as the worst president in U.S. history.
His one major competitor for that dubious distinction remains Buchanan, whose dithering helped lead us into the Civil War — the deadliest conflict in U.S. history. Buchanan may still be the biggest loser. But there is good reason to think that the Civil War would have broken out no matter what. By contrast, there is nothing inevitable about the scale of the disaster we now confront.
The situation is so dire, it is hard to wrap your mind around it. The Atlantic notes: “During the Great Recession of 2007–2009, the economy suffered a net loss of approximately 9 million jobs. The pandemic recession has seen nearly 10 million unemployment claims in just two weeks.” The New York Times estimates that the unemployment rate is now about 13 percent, the highest since the Great Depression ended 80 years ago.
Far worse is the human carnage. We already have more confirmed coronavirus cases than any other country. Trump claimed on Feb. 26 that the outbreak would soon be “down to close to zero.” Now he argues that if the death toll is 100,000 to 200,000 — higher than the U.S. fatalities in all of our wars combined since 1945 — it will be proof that he’s done “a very good job.”
No, it will be a sign that he’s a miserable failure, because the coronavirus is the most foreseeable catastrophe in U.S. history. The warnings about the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks were obvious only in retrospect. This time, it didn’t require any top-secret intelligence to see what was coming. The alarm was sounded in January by experts in the media and by leading Democrats including presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Government officials were delivering similar warnings directly to Trump. A team of Post reporters wrote on Saturday: “The Trump administration received its first formal notification of the outbreak of the coronavirus in China on Jan. 3. Within days, U.S. spy agencies were signaling the seriousness of the threat to Trump by including a warning about the coronavirus —the first of many—in the President’s Daily Brief.” But Trump wasn’t listening.
The Post article is the most thorough dissection of Trump’s failure to prepare for the gathering storm. Trump was first briefed on the coronavirus by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Jan. 18. But, The Post writes, “Azar told several associates that the president believed he was ‘alarmist’ and Azar struggled to get Trump’s attention to focus on the issue.” When Trump was first asked publicly about the virus, on Jan. 22, he said, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”
In the days and weeks after Azar alerted him about the virus, Trump spoke at eight rallies and golfed six times as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
Trump’s failure to focus, The Post notes, “sowed significant public confusion and contradicted the urgent messages of public health experts.” It also allowed bureaucratic snafus to go unaddressed — including critical failures to roll out enough tests or to stockpile enough protective equipment and ventilators.
Countries as diverse as Taiwan, Singapore, Canada, South Korea, Georgia and Germany have done far better — and will suffer far less. South Korea and the United States discovered their first cases on the same day. South Korea now has 183 dead — or 4 deaths per 1 million people. The U.S. death ratio (25 per 1 million) is six times worse — and rising quickly.
This fiasco is so monumental that it makes our recent failed presidents — George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — Mount Rushmore material by comparison. Trump’s Friday night announcement that he’s firing the intelligence community inspector general who exposed his attempted extortion of Ukraine shows that he combines the ineptitude of a George W. Bush or a Carter with the corruption of Richard Nixon.
Trump is characteristically working hardest at blaming others — China, the media, governors, President Barack Obama, the Democratic impeachment managers, everyone but his golf caddie — for his blunders. His mantra is: “I don’t take responsibility at all.” It remains to be seen whether voters will buy his excuses. But whatever happens in November, Trump cannot escape the pitiless judgment of history.
Somewhere, a relieved James Buchanan must be smiling.
This article captures what so many of us have been saying for a long time; Trump doesn’t just lack empathy, it’s an utterly foreign concept for him, and at a time when empathy is most vital, this is sadly apparent.
Has Anyone Found Trump’s Soul? Anyone?
Do you remember President George W. Bush’s remarks at Ground Zero in Manhattan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks? I can still hear him speaking of national grief and national pride. This was before all the awful judgment calls and fatal mistakes, and it doesn’t excuse them. But it mattered, because it reassured us that our country’s leader was navigating some of the same emotional currents that we were.
Do you remember President Barack Obama’s news conference after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 28 people, including 20 children, dead? I do. Freshest in my memory is how he fought back tears. He was hurting. He cared. And while we couldn’t bank on new laws to prevent the next massacre, we could at least hold on to that.
One more question: Do you remember the moment when President Trump’s bearing and words made clear that he grasped not only the magnitude of this rapidly metastasizing pandemic but also our terror in the face of it?
It passed me by, maybe because it never happened.
In Trump’s predecessors, for all their imperfections, I could sense the beat of a heart and see the glimmer of a soul. In him I can’t, and that fills me with a sorrow and a rage that I quite frankly don’t know what to do with.
Americans are dying by the thousands, and he gloats about what a huge, rapt television audience he has. They’re confronting financial ruin and not sure how they’ll continue to pay for food and shelter, and he reprimands governors for not treating him with adequate adulation.
He’s not rising to the challenge before him, not even a millimeter. He’s shriveling into nothingness.
On Friday, when Trump relayed a new recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all Americans wear face masks in public places, he went so far out of his way to stress that the coverings were voluntary and that he himself wouldn’t be going anywhere near one that he might as well have branded them Apparel for Skittish Losers. I’ve finally settled on his epitaph: “Donald J. Trump, too cool for the coronavirus.”
This is more than a failure of empathy, which is how many observers have described his deficiency. It’s more than a failure of decency, which has been my go-to lament. It’s a failure of basic humanity.
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In The Washington Post a few days ago, Michael Gerson, a conservative who worked in Bush’s White House, wrote that Trump’s spirit is “a vast, trackless wasteland.” Not exactly trackless. There are gaudy outposts of ego all along the horizon.
When the direness of this global health crisis began to be apparent, I was braced for the falsehoods and misinformation that are Trump’s trademarks. I was girded for the incompetence that defines an administration with such contempt for proper procedure and for true expertise.
But what has taken me by surprise and torn me up inside are the aloofness, arrogance, pettiness, meanness, narcissism and solipsism that persist in Trump — that flourish in him — even during a once-in-a-lifetime emergency that demands something nobler. Under normal circumstances, these traits are galling. Under the current ones, they’re gutting.
“I don’t take responsibility at all.” “Did you know I was number one on Facebook?” To bother with just one of those sentences while a nation trembles is disgusting. To bother with both, as Trump did, is perverse.
He continues to bash the media, as if the virus were cooked up in the bowels of CNN. He continues to play blame games and to lord his station over those of a lesser political caste, turning governors into grovelers and suggesting that they’re whiny piggies at the federal trough.
He continues his one-man orgy of self-congratulation, so that in the same breath recently he speculated about a toll of 100,000 deaths in America from Covid-19 and crowed about what a great job he’s doing.
And he continues to taunt and smear his perceived political adversaries. Last week, on Fox News, he called Nancy Pelosi “a sick puppy.” This is how he chooses to spend his time and energy?
At those beloved daily briefings of his, where he talks and talks and talks, he sometimes seems to regard what’s happening less as a devastating scourge than as a star-studded event. Just look at the nifty degree of prominence it’s conferring on everyone and everything involved! He has mused aloud about how well known Anthony Fauci has become. He has marveled at the disease’s celebrity profile.
“Become a very famous term — C-O-V-I-D,” he said on Thursday. Was that envy in his voice?
He leaps from tone deafness to some realm of complete sensory and moral deprivation.
“I want to come way under the models,” he said on Friday, referring to casualty projections. “The professionals did the models. I was never involved in a model.”
“At least this kind of model,” he added. No context like a pandemic for X-rated humor.
It’s an extraordinary thing: to fill the air with so many words and have none of them carry any genuine sadness or stirring resolve.
I can hear his admirers grumble that he doesn’t do camera-perfect emotions, that Obama was just a better actor, that Trump is the more authentic man.
To which I answer: What’s the point of having a showman for a president if he can’t put on the right kind of show? Performances count, even if they’re just performances. And Trump clearly isn’t averse to artifice. Just look at his hair.
A cheap shot? I’m feeling cheap. A loss of life and livelihoods on this scale will do that to you.
As of this writing, at least 9,600 people with the coronavirus have died in the United States. That’s more than three times the number killed in the Sept. 11 attacks. New York State alone reported 630 new deaths on Saturday . No school shooting has taken even a small faction of as many lives.
And while I’m not looking to Trump for any panacea, is it too much to ask for some sign that the dying has made an impression on him, that the crying has penetrated his carapace and that he’s thinking about something other than his ratings? I watch. I wait. I suspect I’ll be doing that forever.
WSJ school T on his pressers…some hearty criticism from his conservative compadres.
Trump’s Wasted Briefings
The sessions have become a boring show of President vs. the press.
By The Editorial Board
April 8, 2020 7:37 pm ET
A friend of ours who voted for President Trump sent us a note recently saying that she had stopped watching the daily White House briefings of the coronavirus task force. Why? Because they have become less about defeating the virus and more about the many feuds of Donald J. Trump.
The briefings began as a good idea to educate the public about the dangers of the virus, how Americans should change their behavior, and what the government is doing to combat it. They showed seriousness of purpose, action to mobilize public and private resources, and a sense of optimism. Mr. Trump benefitted in the polls not because he was the center of attention but because he showed he had put together a team of experts working to overcome a national health crisis.
But sometime in the last three weeks Mr. Trump seems to have concluded that the briefings could be a showcase for him. Perhaps they substitute in his mind for the campaign rallies he can no longer hold because of the risks. Perhaps he resented the media adulation that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been receiving for his daily show. Whatever the reason, the briefings are now all about the President.
They last for 90 minutes or more, and Mr. Trump dominates the stage. His first-rate health experts have become supporting actors, and sometimes barely that, ushered on stage to answer a technical question or two. Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the task force, doesn’t get on stage until the last 15 minutes or so. That becomes the most informative part of the session, since Mr. Pence understandably knows details the President doesn’t.
Mr. Trump opens each briefing by running through a blizzard of facts and numbers showing what the government is doing—this many tests, that many masks, so many ventilators going from here to there, and what a great job he’s doing. Then Mr. Trump opens the door for questions, and the session deteriorates into a dispiriting brawl between the President and his antagonists in the White House press corps.
One of the ironies of this Presidency is that Mr. Trump claims to despise the press yet so eagerly plays its game. Every reporter knows the way to get a TV moment, and get a pat on the back from newsroom pals, is to bait Mr. Trump with a question about his previous statements or about criticism that someone has leveled against him. Mr. Trump always takes the bait.
On Tuesday Mr. Trump was asked, in a typically tendentious question, why he had compared the coronavirus to the flu. Instead of saying he had been hoping for the best but was wrong when he’d said that, he got into a fight over the severity of the flu. This sort of exchange usually devolves into a useless squabble that helps Mr. Trump’s critics and contributes little to public understanding.
The President’s outbursts against his political critics are also notably off key at this moment. This isn’t impeachment, and Covid-19 isn’t shifty Schiff. It’s a once-a-century threat to American life and livelihood.
The public doesn’t care who among the governors likes Mr. Trump, or whether the Obama Administration filled the national pandemic stockpile. There will be time for recriminations. What the public wants to know now is what Mr. Trump and his government is doing to prevent the deaths of their loved ones or help the family breadwinner stay employed.
If Mr. Trump thinks these daily sessions will help him defeat Joe Biden, he’s wrong. This election is now about one issue: how well the public thinks the President has done in defeating the virus and restarting the economy. If Americans conclude he succeeded in a crisis, they will forgive him for reacting more slowly than he and many others might have in January. But on that score, voters will be persuaded by what they see in their lives and communities come the autumn. They will judge Mr. Trump by the results, not by how well he says he did.
If Mr. Trump wants to make his briefings more helpful to the country, here’s our advice. Make them no more than 45 minutes, except on rare occasions. Let Mr. Pence lead them each day, focusing on one issue or problem. Mr. Pence can take the questions, and Mr. Trump can show up twice a week to reinforce the message. Maybe then our friend who was a Trump voter might start watching again.
Wow…that really takes the cake.
Here’s T’s version of the news - “What I say goes. You all love me. I’m your cheerleader. When I say the pandemic is over, it’s over and it’s back to work time. Re-elect me because I am doing a phenomenal job. See look at the ratings.”
Keep talking then…keep stepping in it…R’s know his foolish ways.
See…right now…12:45p PST
In presser…T talking about himself, saying people don’t believe him…
“See he’s very reasoned…”
And pointing to his head “I look right here…” for all the answers as to when to open up.
Bingo - talking in the 3rd person about yourself, is very narcissistic…
President Trump’s advisers are reportedly deeply worried that his narcissistic daily briefings on coronavirus are hurting his reelection chances. That’s revealing, in that it shows Trump’s unshakable faith in his ability to manipulate the news cycle with his magical reality-bending powers is not shared by his data-focused team.
But what’s even more revealing is what those advisers won’t say about these displays. This shows the limits on what constitutes acceptable criticism of Trump among those who have a big stake in his political success.
In short: It’s only okay to leak criticism of Trump for things that are perceived to harm him politically in the most superficial of ways, never mind the danger that his failings continue to pose to the country.
That Trump’s magical reality-bending powers are failing him is borne out by a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finding that only 44 percent of Americans approve of his handling of coronavirus, versus 55 percent who disapprove, a sizable swing from last week. A new CBS poll also finds this approval sliding into negative territory, as did this week’s CNN poll.
It turns out some Republicans — and some of Trump’s own advisers — agree with this, and are deeply worried about it.
A remarkably revealing New York Times report details these concerns, with a focus on how Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings are working against him:
As unemployment soars and the death toll skyrockets, and new polls show support for the president’s handling of the crisis sagging, White House allies and Republican lawmakers increasingly believe the briefings are hurting the president more than helping him. Many view the sessions as a kind of original sin from which all of his missteps flow, once he gets through his prepared script and turns to his preferred style of extemporaneous bluster and invective.
The Trump campaign’s internal polls show “he has mostly lost the initial bump he received early in the crisis,” the Times reports, and advisers want these briefings limited. Republican Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) claims that in these briefings, Trump “drowns out his own message.” Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) says “they’re going on too long.”
Meanwhile, one top political adviser to Trump tells the Times that the briefings are handing likely opponent Joe Biden ammunition, and says Vice President Pence should be the frontman because he “projects more empathy,” as the Times puts it.
Reports like this should be read in part as an effort by those who willingly spill behind-the-scenes thinking to prod Trump to course-correct for his own good.
But what’s truly revealing here is what these advisers don’t say in this regard about these briefings, and more broadly, what they can’t say about his need to course-correct.
This rings true…T over-hypes the situation as being under control, refrains from making informed decisions, and delaying decisions for purposes of re-election (Johnson) - with a similar death toll expected as Vietnam with 58K people killed there.
President Bonespurs finally gets to fight a war. Unfortunately for us, he’s re-fighting the Vietnam War.
In his ambivalent battle against the pandemic, President Trump has managed to repeat, in just a few months, the same mistakes that took three administrations more than a decade to make in Vietnam: ignoring experts’ warnings, running a confused war effort, spreading disinformation, silencing truth-tellers and squandering the prestige of the most powerful nation on Earth.
Five deferments, including one for bone spurs, kept Trump from fighting in the real thing. He later described his dating life as “the equivalent of a soldier going over to Vietnam” and avoiding STDs “my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.” Because he attended a military-themed boarding school, he “always felt that I was in the military.”
Now, with the novel coronavirus spreading, Trump embraces a new military role: “A number of people have said it, and I feel it, actually. I’m a wartime president.”
Some call the pandemic Trump’s Katrina or Trump’s Iraq War. But in terms of American lives that will be lost, this is far greater than both. This may be the most consequential failure of government since Vietnam, in which 58,000 Americans and countless Vietnamese died.
During the Vietnam War, as the New Yorker’s Susan Glasser pointed out, the U.S. military’s daily briefings from Saigon, full of false claims about progress, were dubbed the Five O’Clock Follies. Trump seems unaware of this ignominy when he holds daily briefings full of false claims and dubious medical advice — typically scheduled for 5 p.m.
The similarities are substantive, too. In the Vietnam era, civilian leaders ignored the military and intelligence warnings that the war would end in stalemate or worse. Trump in January and February failed to take action on intelligence showing the threat posed to the United States by the pandemic. Likewise, he didn’t heed alarms sounded by White House official Peter Navarro, who pleaded in January and February for a massive response, and accurately warned that the virus could put millions of lives in jeopardy and cost trillions of dollars.
The Me President: Trump uses pandemic briefing to focus on himself
The Debrief: An occasional series offering a reporter’s insights
President Trump stepped to the lectern Monday on a day when the coronavirus death toll in the United States ticked up past 23,000. He addressed the nation at a time when unemployment claims have shot past 15 million and lines at food banks stretch toward the horizon.
Yet in the middle of this deadly pandemic that shows no obvious signs of abating, the president made clear that the paramount concern for Trump is Trump — his self-image, his media coverage, his supplicants and his opponents, both real and imagined.
“Everything we did was right,” Trump said, during a sometimes hostile 2½ -hour news conference in which he offered a live version of an enemies list, brooking no criticism and repeatedly snapping at reporters who dared to challenge his version of events.
Trump has always had a me-me-me ethos, an uncanny ability to insert himself into the center of just about any situation. But Monday’s coronavirus briefing offered a particularly stark portrait of a president seeming unable to grasp the magnitude of the crisis — and saying little to address the suffering across the country he was elected to lead.
At one point — after praising himself for implementing travel restrictions on China at the end of January and griping about being “brutalized” by the press — Trump paused to boast with a half-smirk, “But I guess I’m doing okay because, to the best of my knowledge, I’m the president of the United States, despite the things that are said.”
The news conference began when Trump turned to Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, and asked him to “say a few words before we go any further.” With that, Fauci stood and offered a not-quite-apology for comments he made over the weekend to CNN’s Jake Tapper, in which he confirmed that he and other health experts had made mitigation recommendations to Trump as early as the third weekend of February and said that earlier mitigation “could have saved lives.”
On Monday, Fauci tried to walk back his comments, saying he had been responding to a “hypothetical” and had not intended to criticize the president, whom he praised for implementing the recommendations of public health officials like himself.
“That was the wrong choice of words,” said Fauci, whose relationship with the president has been tense at times.
Trump stands by while a video plays on a monitor at the coronavirus briefing at the White House. (Alex Wong/AFP/Getty Images)
One reporter asked him if he was speaking “voluntarily” or at the behest of the president.
“Everything I do is voluntarily,” Fauci said. “Please don’t even imply that.”
Next, Trump played a propaganda-style video that he said had been pulled together by White House aides earlier in the day. In a short hagiography more in line with a political event than a presidential news conference, clips critical of the media were interspersed with footage of loyalists praising the president.
“The president has been outstanding through all this,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ® said in the video. “The vice president has been outstanding. Members of the coronavirus task force very responsive.”
Since the pandemic began, Trump’s almost-daily news conferences have increasingly taken on the feel of campaign rallies — a simulacrum of the raucous, Keep-America-Great-fests he has had to forgo amid the global contagion.
And Monday, he brought many of those trademark campaign moments into the briefing room.
“You know, I don’t mind controversy,” the president said, offering something of a guiding life principle. “I think controversy is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony S. Fauci, at Monday’s briefing, said that he had not meant to criticize Trump in a weekend interview and that he had used “the wrong choice of words.” (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
He also criticized “sleepy Joe Biden,” the presumptive Democratic nominee, because Biden, he said, had previously criticized him, and jousted with the “fake news.”
Shortly after Trump played the video, CBS’s Paula Reid pressed him on how his administration had not used the month of February to ready itself for the coming virus, after sharply limiting travel from China.
“You didn’t use it to prepare hospitals, you didn’t use it to ramp up testing,” Reid said, before Trump cut her off, calling her “disgraceful.”
Reid forged ahead. “What did you do with the time that you bought, the month of February?” she asked, as Trump talked over her. “That video has a gap — the entire month of February. . . . What did your administration do in February with the time that your travel ban bought you?”
“A lot. A lot,” said Trump, without offering any specifics, before turning his frustration back on Reid.
“You know you’re a fake,” he said.
At another moment, seemingly eager to assert his dominance over the nation’s governors, Trump declared incorrectly, “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total.”
Later, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins followed up: “You said when someone is president of the United States, their authority is total. That is not true. Who told you that?”
The president declined to answer, saying, “The governors need us” before abruptly silencing Collins with a sharp, “Enough.”
About halfway through, Trump departed, leaving the remainder of the briefing to Vice President Pence and the public health professionals. But the first hour of the news conference was a paean to the president and his ego, orchestrated by Trump himself.
For a fleeting instant, the president seemed poised to reveal a flicker of self-awareness. Asked why he shared a tweet from a supporter with the hashtag #FireFauci, Trump said that while he personally thinks Fauci is “terrific,” not everybody is happy with him.
“Not everybody is happy with — ” Trump said, before pausing briefly. He seemed about to say himself; not everybody is happy with Fauci, and not everybody is happy with Trump.
But then, never one for self-criticism, he concluded: “Not everybody is happy with everybody.”
Trump’s propaganda-laden, off-the-rails coronavirus briefing
Near the start of his daily coronavirus briefing on Monday, President Trump made a statement that betrayed, better than just about anything, how he views the purpose of such briefings.
Before playing a campaign-style video intended to show his decisive action on the virus and to accuse his critics of being the actual culprits on downplaying the threat, Trump cued it up by talking about what he wanted to do after it played.
“Most importantly,” he said, “we’re going to get back on to the reason we’re here, which is the success we’re having.”
Trump’s self-promotion, falsehoods and use of dodgy medical advice in these coronavirus briefings have led to a dialogue about whether networks should carry them live. And on Monday, he seemed to be daring all of them to stop, turning the whole thing into a spectacle of government-produced propaganda and even more personal score-settling and grievances.
Most notable was the video that was played. In it, media figures were shown early in the outbreak comparing the virus to the seasonal flu, as Trump has been criticized for doing much later on. Other clips played up the impact of his ban on travel from China, while yet more showed Trump personally making pronouncements about the steps he was taking — even at a time he was repeatedly and much more strongly downplaying the threat of the virus.
Trump was pressed on the production of the video, and he said it was made by White House officials.
Trump proceeded to downplay many complaints about the federal response, going so far as to say that there is no problem with the number of ventilators and other equipment available. The reality is significantly different, according to the states.
Trump also at one point maintained, “Everything we did was right.” When pressed on the claim, he declined to restate it but cast blame on governors for not stockpiling more ventilators.
It was soon noted that the video Trump had cued up left out a significant chunk of time in February — after the China travel ban and before Trump acknowledged the severity of the situation in mid-March — in which he didn’t take significant steps.
“What did you do in February?” CBS News’s Paula Reid asked.
Trump responded, “What do you do when you have no cases in the whole United States?” Reid rightly noted that there were actually cases in February, but Trump ignored it, refocusing on the lack of cases in mid-January. Pressed, he assured that the administration had in February done “a lot, and in fact we’ll give you a list."
Indeed, Trump repeatedly suggested a false choice between shutting down the economy in January and doing something lesser either then or in February, when health officials were reportedly asking for more significant warnings and social distancing. He suggested it would be foolish to shut down the economy when there were no or extremely few cases in January, while failing to enunciate any steps taken in February.
Trump also used the briefing to repeatedly suggest he had absolute power to deal with the situation, despite the Constitution and centuries of Supreme Court precedent. He said that he had “ultimate authority" and said, “The president of the United States has the authority to do what the president has the authority to do, which is very powerful. The president of the United States calls the shots.” He added later that “when somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
This is unquestionably false, but Vice President Pence backed him up later in the briefing.
“Make no mistake about it: In the long history of this country, the authority of the president of the United States during national emergencies is unquestionably plenary,” Pence said, using a synonym for “absolute.” “You can look back through times of war and other national emergencies. And as the president said, we’ll happily brief that. ”
Another key moment in the briefing came at the outset, when Trump welcomed one of the lead doctors on the coronavirus task force, Anthony S. Fauci, to address an apparent rift between him and Trump. Trump had on Sunday night retweeted a tweet that included a call for Fauci to be fired, after Fauci said in an interview earlier in the day that certain recommendations made by health officials hadn’t been heeded.
Fauci dealt with the subject obliquely, saying that when the officials “formally” asked for something amounting to a shutdown of large portions of the economy, Trump listened. In fact, though, the New York Times report he was responding to Sunday was not that the officials had asked for a shutdown, but that they had recommended in February that people be warned about the dangers of the virus and to encourage social distancing. Such guidelines weren’t actually made by Trump until mid-March.
Fauci, as he has done before, downplayed the idea that he and Trump were at odds — even as he has repeatedly said things that suggested as much. He was pressed on whether he was making the statement voluntarily, and he bristled.
“Everything I do is voluntarily,” he said. “Please don’t even imply that.”
Given the spectacle that surrounded him, though, it was hardly ridiculous to ask whether he was being compelled to toe a line that Trump had set. Everything else in these briefings has suggested a president who insists upon it — including the marshaling of government resources to provide a misleading narrative and a president who demands constant credit while ignoring the facts on the ground.
who does he mean when he says the US because it’s not the states?
Wherever T can point the finger and deflect, that’s his move…
Here’s the best overview on what’s needed (ventilators, beds etc) by USA and by state, based on projections. According to this, it says the US needs approximately 13,000 ventilators.
T’s analysis of the Coronavirus issue comes down to this simple game - Heads - I win: Tails-You lose. Mr. Teflon himself can never, ever take the blame for any bit of it…as has been written and described in waaaaaay too many articles and discussions.
I like this quote: “One adviser described him as a “shopper of advice” who seeks one opinion and bounces it off somebody else.”
We can be assured he will never get it right…it’s a dangerous proposition having him dance around with the truth to suit his over-stuffed ego.
In White House meetings with officials, advisers say, Mr. Trump has been bothered over how much blame he might get for the administration’s slow early response to the crisis, and pondered how to position himself and the administration to receive as much credit as possible in efforts to revive the economy.
He has asked White House aides for economic response plans that would allow him to take credit for successes while offering enough flexibility to assign fault for any failures to others. “People have made clear to him that’s an impossible goal, just two completely contradictory goals,” said one person in contact with the president. “But I’m not sure he’s convinced.”
“We are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation,” he said Tuesday.
Mr. Trump has contrasted the per capita caseloads in the U.S. with other countries’ to show “we’re doing very well.” Testing for the virus hasn’t been uniform across the U.S. or globally, which affects case totals and per capita infection rates. Confirmed infections in the U.S. are the highest in the world at more than 672,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The president has halted U.S. funding to the World Health Organization, accusing it of withholding virus data to benefit China, which the agency denies. And he has repeatedly blamed his predecessors for shortages in medical stockpiles. “The cupboard was bare when I got here,” Mr. Trump said Monday, although he is nearly 39 months into his 48-month term. Earlier this month, he blamed the Obama administration for a Department of Health and Human Services inspector general report that found hospitals’ top complaint during the crisis has been a severe shortage of testing supplies.
Mr. Trump, who throughout his presidency has made a habit of calling up old associates and friends in the private sector to solicit their advice, has ramped up those calls in recent weeks. One adviser described him as a “shopper of advice” who seeks one opinion and bounces it off somebody else.
Mr. Trump’s inner circle no longer views the economy as the top issue in his re-election campaign. That has been supplanted by his handling of the crisis and getting the country back to work, according to senior administration officials. Still, the president has privately voiced frustration about the rapid deflating of the economic boom—a theme he also has fretted about publicly during the past two weeks.
Democrats, Mr. Trump said April 6, “shouldn’t be allowed to win” November’s presidential race just because the contagion has routed the historic 10-year economic expansion and replaced it with an unprecedented surge in unemployment claims. More than 22 million Americans applied for jobless benefits in the past month. The previous record was 2.7 million, set in 1982.
Before the late-afternoon White House briefings, Mr. Trump spends about 30 minutes discussing the news of the day with Vice President Mike Pence, Mr. Kushner and members of his press team. Drs. Birx and Fauci are usually in the room.
Mr. Trump receives a copy of his statement, crafted by Mr. Kushner’s team with input from Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser, and Marc Short, Mr. Pence’s chief of staff, according to advisers. The president doesn’t rehearse his comments.
Over last weekend, advisers said, Mr. Trump was anxious that state governors, many of whom have been coordinating plans on lifting stay-at-home orders, would steal some of his media spotlight when it came to reopening the country.
“You can’t dismiss the impact these kinds of things have on him,” said one adviser. “He has enormous emotional reactions, and his view is he has to come out and fight every day, not to persuade the media or convince Democrats, but to talk directly to conservative media.”
When T calls out to citizens to retaliate against their governors, it is beyond abhorrent
Look What He Makes You Give
The COVID-19 crisis shows how little elite Republicans got in exchange for the soul they had to give to Donald Trump.
Because he is doing badly with it…and he’s worried about his ratings.
He is weak…
President Trump plans to pare back his coronavirus press conferences, according to four sources familiar with the internal deliberations.
- He may stop appearing daily and make shorter appearances when he does, the sources said — a practice that may have started with Friday’s unusually short briefing.
Why this matters: Trump’s daily press conferences — televised to a largely homebound population — have dominated the public discourse about the coronavirus.
Behind the scenes: A number of Trump’s most trusted advisers — both inside and outside the White House — have urged him to stop doing marathon televised briefings.
- They’ve told him he’s overexposed and these appearances are part of the reason polls aren’t looking good for him right now against Joe Biden.
- “I told him it’s not helping him,” said one adviser to the president. “Seniors are scared. And the spectacle of him fighting with the press isn’t what people want to see.”
But Trump has defended the practice, telling critics that the briefings get good ratings.
- One source cautioned that decisions like this one are never final until they’re final.
- A senior administration official involved in the discussions said: “He should keep everyone guessing as to whether he appears day by day. And leave the technical briefings to others. Be there to announce victories.”
Another source close to the deliberations said there simply isn’t enough new material to justify Trump appearing before the press every day. “I mean, you wonder how we got to the point where you’re talking about injecting disinfectant?” the source wondered aloud.
- These conversations were underway before Trump suggested that researchers investigate whether doctors could cure coronavirus by injecting people with disinfectant. But a source said it finally seems to have dawned on Trump, after this incident, that these briefings aren’t helping him. The CDC and other public health officials responded obliquely to the comment by telling people not to drink bleach.