In the week following the President’s COVID-19 diagnosis the virus has struck more than a dozen members of the President’s family, cabinet members, advisers, White House staff, and fellow Republicans. The list includes First Lady Melania, Son Barron, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and her two aides, Campaign Manager Bill Stepien, Advisers Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller, Spokesperson Kellyanne Conway, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, Utah Senator Mike Lee, former Governor Chris Christie, members of the White House press corps, and likely others who have yet to be announced. Even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley along with most of rest of the Chiefs went into self-quarantine. Most of the infected all had in common of working closely with the President, attending a Rose Garden event for Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett where few wore masks or practiced social distancing, or traveling with the President onboard Air Force one. It appears that the President and one or more of his events may have been the super-spreader common denominator.
Once at the hospital, and after he claimed “he gets it” and he has “learned a lot about Covid”, did the President as a fake conservative start taking his personal responsibility more seriously to protect others? Of course not; this is Donald Trump. On a Sunday drive he had his secret service agents drive him, in a tightly sealed vehicle, to the front gates of the medical complex so that he could be adored and worshipped by supporters who had gathered. This was mostly to feed his fragile ego and stage the first of several photo ops over the next few days. Most Americans on both sides thought this was reckless behavior for a man who had high fever, low oxygen levels, was likely still contagious, and was receiving numerous medicines and therapies, some experimental not available to the public.
Upon hearing news the President of the United States was moving into a hospital setting many asked how he could run the country from there. Have they not been paying attention to what this President actually has been doing, which has been more like ruining the country and not running it. He tweets all day long and into the night. He watches Fox News in the morning and evening and is said not to leave the private residency for the West Wing office until late morning. He has not planned, driven or passed any major new policies or legislation that have helped the majority of Americans. Most of his administration top officials and cabinet members are “acting heads”, as he is. He spends most of his time and energy attacking, demeaning, berating and insulting others. He is said to not pay attention to intelligence briefings or read their or many other reports prepared for him. His weekends before the crisis were spent traveling to Mar-a-Lago or playing golf. So while at Walter Reed he staged a photo op showing him busily working at a desk signing important-looking papers. Upon closer inspection the paper was blank and the notebooks scattered across he desk were empty props. That is our President.
The political theater continued on Tuesday when the President left the hospital after four days and returned to the White House. Upon departing his helicopter turned air ambulance he climbed the South Portico stairs, took off his mask, filmed a message, and walked into the people’s house where his aides had gathered, all without wearing a face covering. Thankfully, much of the White House has been vacated as a hazard zone because so many staffers have fallen ill or are isolating or in quarantine at home. The President has not learned a damned thing and appears incapable of doing so. He could have come out of his illness with a sense of humility, thankfulness, and empathy for what millions of American families have endured. Instead it was with arrogance, bravado, contempt, and dismissiveness.
In a new propaganda video Trump told Americans to “don’t be afraid of it” and “you’re going to beat it” as we have the “best medical equipment” and “best medicines” and “when you catch it you get better” and “don’t let the virus dominate your life.” No, he has access to the best care and most advanced treatments, all at no cost to him, that we normal Americans do not, and he has abused it by his careless behavior that led him to become infected and well as by his irresponsible actions afterwards. Trump said his illness was a “blessing from God that I caught it” and that he was cured and could not get it again. Also wrong. Survivors across the country as well as the family of deceases condemned the President for his cavalier hurtful words that made them feel as if they or their family members were just not strong enough, or worthy enough, or were to blame for letting the virus get the best of them.
Trump also tweeted that sometimes over 100,000 people die from the flue despite a vaccine, so we just have to learn to live with the coronavirus as if it is less dangerous. Twitter and Facebook flagged or removed some of the President’s tweets and posts as being judged “misleading and potentially harmful information” that minimized the dangers of Covid-19.
Upon returning to the White House on Tuesday the President tweeted that he had called off negotiations on the next coronavirus economic relief package. Stock markets promptly took a dive. Yes, he feels so good now that help is obviously no longer needed for anyone! He went on to tweet that “our economy is doing very well”, “the stock market is at record highs” and “jobs are coming back in record numbers.” On Wednesday he fired off another 50 tweets including one abruptly reversing his decision the day before on shutting down negotiations.
Hours before the President tweeted that discussions on a new aid package were off the table, Fed Reserve Chairman Powell warned that there was still a long way to go and without another round household insolvencies and business bankruptcies could overtake the nation, derail a recovery, and become a tragic slowdown. The pandemic recession continues to claim about 800,000 jobs each week in new state unemployment filings. Airlines alone, with their business down by over 70%, announced laying off another 30,000 employees this past week. Companies like Allstate, Houghton Miffin, and Walt Disney added another 30,000 lost jobs. Tens of thousands of franchise businesses are said to be likely to close by year end. These job losses are impacting women, single parents, minorities, immigrants, less-educated, and lower-income workers at far higher rates than the white-collar professional class. For many of the industries that these workers were once employed in – e.g. travel, dining, entertainment, sports, hotels, arts, higher education – less than half of the jobs have returned. It is not an inconvenient recession for these Americans, but a nightmarish depression. All while the well-to-do employed enjoy record stock market portfolios, their home value rising 5-10% across much of the nation, and artificially low interest rates to buy luxury items and second homes.
The Trump administration touts that the economy created over 600,000 new jobs for the month of September which they say lowers the official unemployment rate to just under 8%. Yet, the total of new unemployment claims from states for the month exceeded 3 million losses, not including self-employed or contract workers, which means a net job loss of 2.4 million. And the unemployment rate goes down? This is why we don’t believe anything coming out of this administration.
Despite a deep recession and Trump’s promises to right all trade wrongs through trade wars, the US trade deficit with the rest of the world continues to climb last month by nearly 6% over the previous month and a year ago.
The global pandemic is being very good to the world’s wealthy billionaires whose holdings reached record highs this summer. Easy cheap money from central banks, including the Federal Reserve which Trump has encouraged to go even lower in rates, has only widened income and wealth inequality. All while the World Bank said that the pandemic could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty this year reversing gains of previous years.
Russian President Putin said what we already were thinking that Joe Biden calling Trump “Putin’s puppy” in the debate last week was a compliment to Russia.
Like a spoiled child throwing a tantrum because he can’t get his way, the President cancels his participation in the second scheduled debate with Joe Biden. Trump would not agree to the new format and rules which were required because he and his entourage have been flaunting Covid safety rules before and during the debate. That included hosting multiple super-spreader events that infected many in his staff and White House. He said he was not going to waste his time with a virtual debate sitting behind a computer. His campaign manager called the debate commission “swamp creatures” for Joe Biden. Yes, the whole damn country has been living, working, studying, recreating and suffering virtually behind their computers all year long, and this is just too much to ask of the President to do the same. The country is better off not having to go thru another experience like the first debate. Good riddance.
The Vice Presidential debate went on between VP Mike Pence and Senator Harris. The morning after the President tweets out disparaging comments about Senator Harris as being “totally unlikable.” a “monster,” and a “communist.” Later a member of his campaign advisory board called her an “insufferable lying bitch.” Trump had previously questioned her citizenship as he once did President Obama.
The nation is preparing itself with the expectations of an election day chaos, voter intimidation, armed citizen poll watchers who are an “army for Trump”, international interference, a nasty contested election and a sitting President who won’t concede or commit to a peaceful transition of power. Social media giants have said they will restrict political advertisements once the polls close and label posts that are misleading or inflammatory. State and local police around the country are preparing for massive protests by both sides. Political strategists are warning of all the ways the election results could be hijacked from faithless electors, an electoral college tie, endless lawsuits to the Supreme Court, or resorting to the 12th Amendment which sends the decision back to one representative from each state. The speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said that Congress needs to start talking about the need to establish a commission to review the rules for exercising the 25th Amendment. God help us.
The impending threat of violence has already been uncovered by the FBI who arrested and charged over a dozen right-extremists for planning and conspiring to kidnap Democrat Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, attacking law enforcement, overthrowing the state government, and inciting a civil war. The Governor laid the blame exactly where it belonged, on the hands of President Trump for not condemning white supremacy groups and encouraging protesters to “liberate Michigan” from Covid-19 restrictions. More and more the President behaves like a domestic terrorist intent on blowing up the country.
Trump surprised and blindsided his military commanders this week when he said that all troops will leave Afghanistan by end of the year. The Taliban celebrated the announcement.
The President hosts a political reelection rally on the grounds of the White House, a week after being diagnosed with Covid-19. In a scene that looked reminiscent of Italy’s Mussolini or Germany’s Hitler, the President spoke to his supporters looking down upon them from a second floor balcony of the White House as the crowd waved flags and their hands, almost in a heil salute while with many wearing nationalistic hats but no masks. Like Hitler and Mussolini once did, he called his rally one standing for law and order and labeled his political foes as radical socialists and communists who should be voted into oblivion.
On Thursday the President was said to have berated his cabinet members for not pursuing criminal prosecution against his political enemies. He said Attorney General Barr should be indicting Democrats like Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And also others for their role in investigating his crimes. Yes, this is just another example of what aspiring autocrats, dictators, and despots do as they destroy democratic institutions.
Most poll watchers think the President is acting unhinged because his campaign is in a pure state of panic being down over 10 points across much of the country. And he knows that should he lose he may very well be the one prosecuted for crimes as well as having his hundreds of millions of dollars in personal loans called in by his lenders, whomever and wherever they may be. And like any cornered animal, that makes him even more dangerous than he has been the last four years. We all know now what is likely to happen after the election, but what stunts will he perform before then we should all worry about.
Yet, why have so many Republican party leaders embraced someone like Trump? Are they that greedy for power and amoral if not immoral? Editorialists have gone so far as to suggest they are suffering like hostages from Stockholm Syndrome that becomes a cult-like experience in denial of the crimes of their hostage taker.
This week’s attack against the environment is the announcement that the Trump administration will remove yet another endangered animal from being a protected species. This time it is the wolverine, which had already been nearly wiped out by the lack of regulations, and with less than an estimated 500 left in the U.S. face new pressures from a warming climate. After this week, doesn’t our country feel like it is an endangered species?
The above news items have been taken from a number of local, regional, national and international news media including print, broadcast, and digital sources, but no social media. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.