A month ago, President Donald Trump graded his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic an A-plus. Now, with the number of new cases rising 31 states, he’s acting like it’s fake news.
“People are tired of COVID” he said. “People are saying, ‘Whatever, just leave us alone.’”
In Trump’s mind, he’s projecting strength. But in the real world, quitting in the face of adversity is known as weakness.
America isn’t the only country seeing a new surge of cases. They are rising exponentially across the European Union.
The Czech Republic is experiencing one of the worst outbreaks in the world. Prime Minister Andrej reinstated a strict mask mandate and ordered the closure of non-essential services and stores. And in his appeal to the citizenry for compliance, he did two things Trump is incapable of – apologize and admit his mistakes.
“I am sorry for the new restrictions that will impact lives of business owners, citizens, employees” Babis said. “I am also sorry for having de facto ruled out the possibility of this happening because I could not imagine that this would happen.”
Just as Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted, it’s happening in America too.
“We will have coronavirus in the fall,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said during a White House briefing in April. “I am convinced of that.”
“But” Trump responded with his trademark wishful thinking, “it’s also possible it doesn’t come back at all.”
As usual, Fauci was right. Which is why a significant majority of Americans trust his judgment. And probably why he appeared in a campaign ad for Trump’s reelection two weeks ago.
“President Trump tackled the virus head on as leaders should” the narrator states. In the next scene, Fauci states “I can’t imagine that … anybody could be doing more.”
If you think that’s a valuable endorsement of Trump, you’re wrong. The quote was from a Fox News interview Fauci gave in March. He correctly pointed out that it was taken out of context. He was referring to his coronavirus task force colleagues, not Trump.
In return for Fauci setting the record straight, Trump called him “a disaster.” He followed that up with a tweet referring to Fauci and his colleagues as “idiots … who got it wrong.”
Which Fauci does Trump want Americans to trust? The medical expert who appears to praise him in his campaign ad? Or the “disaster” he claims people are “tired of hearing” speak about the pandemic?
Trump is promoting dueling realities with the vaccine too. Last week, after promising his supporters that 100 million doses will be available “before the end of the year” he added “but even without the vaccine, the pandemic is ending.”
Why do we need a vaccine then? And if the virus is no longer a serious threat, why bother taking precautions that inconveniently intrude on our normal lives?
Only twice has Trump called on Americans to be strong in the face of this challenge. “Now it’s our time” he said on March 18 after making three analogies to America’s resolve during World War II. “We must sacrifice together, because we are all in this together, and we will come through together.” The second was when he extended nationwide social distancing measures till the end of April.
Then on April 29, he declared “the worst of the pain and suffering is going to be behind us.” Ever since, he’s bragged about his administration’s response while appealing to our weakness and impatience by displaying his.
Trump’s normal approach to rectify contradictions like these is to label the ones he doesn’t like “fake news.” In every instance though, he’s created both sides of the story. And almost every Republican member of Congress has let him get away with it.
Meanwhile, the pundits on Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and others act like they’re the spokespeople for Big Brother, the party chief in George Orwell’s 1984, who declares his country is at war with Eurasia one day and the next says it’s always been at war with the Eastasia.
That there’s an audience for such on-again-off again views of the pandemic says a lot too. The national character in Trump’s America is an embarrassment to the greatest generation that determinedly endured the four long years of World War II.
• Rich Moniak is a Juneau resident and retired civil engineer with more than 25 years of experience working in the public sector. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a letter to the editor or My Turn .