Raise your hand if any of your concerns about the coronavirus were alleviated by anything the current occupant of the White House has said during these pandemic times?
For most of us, that’s sort of a rhetorical question, seeing as how Donald Trump has told more than 10,000 lies in the three-plus years he’s been president of the United States.
So, to expect him to all of a sudden become trustworthy during a crisis would be tantamount to spitting into the wind.
But, even with that said, there was a part of me that hoped that the corona crisis would have made Trump more presidential on some level.
Instead, when the virus first came to the nation’s attention, Trump led his enabling chorus in a constant refrain of it’s nothing to worry about, it’s not going to happen here and any thoughts of that kind were nothing more other than a left-wing media and politically fueled Democratic hoax.
When the first cases hit our shores, Trump responded in his usually racist manner: He blamed foreigners and closed our borders, then lied some more about how his administration had everything under control and that it would all be over in a few days.
Regardless of how I feel about a president politically, even this one, in times of national catastrophes and crises, I expect the president to be a uniter, a consoler and comforter and cheerleader in chief.
Every president in my lifetime has been able to look the American people in the eye and say that they feel their pain and grief.
Not this guy; he’s incapable of doing that or even feining empathy and sympathy when called to.
From Johnson to Nixon, to Ford, to Carter, to Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton and Obama, there were tragic and catastrophe events, and the only job of the president was to console and comfort the nation.
I applauded and appreciated each time I saw these men live up to one of the duties of the office they held.
One of my favorite Lyndon Johnson stories occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Betsy in 1965.
Johnson was on a rescue boat looking for victims in the Ninth Ward section of New Orleans one night when they came upon an injured, screaming black lady who was reluctant to get in the boat with all those white men.
Johnson, holding a lantern, hollered out to her, “This here is your president, Lyndon Johnson, and I’m here to help you.” She got in the boat with them.
When Jimmy Carter announced that the eight special forces operatives had died in a helicopter crash while attempting to rescue the Iranian hostages, you knew his anguish was real.
When Ronald Reagan, ever the actor, rhapsodically said that the astronauts who died in the Challenger explosion had “slipped the surly bonds of earth, to “touch the face of God,” I was comforted.
Anytime “Bubba” Bill Clinton got in front of a microphone and said that he felt your pain, I always nodded in agreement.
I began to reassess my feelings toward George W. Bush after hearing his “my bad” about the way his administration handled the recovery effort following Hurricane Katrina — something Trump sycophant Kanye West couldn’t do.
My questions about the depth of Barack Obama’s blackness were assuaged following the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, when he said that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon.
His position as consoler in chief were cemented by the tears he shed while talking about the 20 preschool and first-grade children killed at the school in Sandy Hook, Mass.
From the Bottom where I see things, the current occupant of the office isn’t cut from the same material as the previous occupants.
And there is example after example of him paling next to any one of them.
Remember how he and his administration reacted to hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico and the wildfires in California? Remember the smiling “thumbs up” photos with shooting victims in El Paso?
Remember the jump-shot passing out of paper towels in Puerto Rico? Whatever the disaster or crisis, it’s always all about him. How many times has he praised himself during the current corona virus?
Speaking of Trump and the corona virus, answers to a couple of questions about his administration’s handling of the pandemic made the hair on the back of my neck stand up,and forced me to do another nonpresidential comparison between Truman and a predecessor.
Last week, after news reports from January about the firing in 2018 of the experts who staffed the infectious disease offices within the executive branch, a couple of reporters asked Trump if he took any responsibility for his administration’s slow reaction and response to the crisis.
He said no, he didn’t. When asked specifically by Yamiche Alcindor, a black female reporter for PBS, this question: “You said you don’t take responsibility for slow response to coronavirus, but your administration disbanded the White House office on pandemics?”
Here’s how the petulant child in chief responded, “That’s a nasty question …. When you say me, I didn’t do it. We have a group of people in the administration.”
Some backstory: Nasty is a word that Trump often uses in response to anything negative or critical that black women say to or about him. He’s done it to her on several occasions.
Some more backstory: The infectious disease offices were set up by Barack Obama in light of the SARAS and Ebola outbreaks in Asia and Africa as well as the H1N1 swine flu outbreak early in his first term.
And it’s no secret that much like the pharaoh who followed Akhenaten in Egypt, Trump’s main goal while in office is to eliminate everything that Obama created.
And when the infectious disease offices appeared on Trump’s radar, he quickly got rid of them.
According to an article in Foreign Policy magazine written by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Laurie Garrett, in May 2018, Trump ordered the NSC’s entire global health security unit shut down and for the man who headed the unit, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, to be reassigned.
The month before, then-White House National Security Adviser John Bolton pressured Ziemer’s DHS counterpart, Tom Bossert, to resign along with his team.
Neither the NSC nor DHS epidemic teams have been replaced. The global health section of the CDC was so drastically cut in 2018 that much of its staff was laid off and the number of countries it was working in was reduced from 49 to 10. China was one of the 39 cuts.
The virus may not be Trump’s fault, but you don’t have to be From the Bottom to realize that this fault lies not in the stars, but with the liar. But I digress.
Trump has done many things that prove he’s duly unfit for the office he holds. The most recent example was his answer to Alcindor’s question about presidential responsibility.
Those of us of a certain age are familiar with the phrase, “The buck stops here” and its origin story.
For those of you who don’t know, the phrase was popularized by President Harry Truman in the 1950s, who said it after making many tough decisions affecting the nation.
“You know, it’s easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you — and on my desk I have a motto which says, ‘The Buck Stops Here’ — the decision has to be made.”
In his farewell address to the people in January 1953, Truman said this “The president, whoever he is, has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.”
And every president since Truman at some critical point during his tenure has spoken these same words, except the current one.
The other day in a conference call with the nation’s governors, Trump told them that for all intents and purposes, they were on their own when it came to getting the equipment needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
People laughed, chuckled and mocked George W. Bush for saying that he was the “decider in chief.”
He doesn’t seem so funny and mockable now, does he?
Hey, Trump supporters and enablers, how are his tax cuts, right-wing judicial appointments and racist immigration policies helping you and your family deal with the coronavirus?
And those of you who have a problem with socialism are in for a treat. There is going to be a great deal more of it in the good ole capitalistic USA in the coming weeks and months.
For many hard-core capitalists, especially those affected by the coronavirus, left-wing “crack pot” ideas like Medicare for all, paid family leave and guaranteed universal income don’t seem as “cracked” as they were a few days ago.
Wash those hands, keep them away from your face and practice some more social distancing. At some point in the future, I’m going to make a joke about that phrase.
Hi, Momma Lois.
TONY KENDALL of Hazel is a writer, teacher, actor, playwright and sports fanatic. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.