Donald Trump is not a serious man, hence the folly of expecting him to take his extremely serious job seriously—and this is the tragedy of the Trump presidency. Had he taken the Covid pandemic seriously, and reacted competently, he would be cruising to an easy re-election and secured for himself a positive place in the history of the United States. But Mr. Trump is not interested in exerting himself in the job of actually doing the work demanded of a president. He is interested only in playing the role of a president on TV (perhaps he also pats himself on the back for staying at a Holiday Inn Express last night).
Try to imagine if Mr. Trump had taken his job seriously in the face of Covid. We know from his own words, scrupulously recorded on tape by Bob Woodward (with Trump’s knowledge and consent), that he learned in January of this year that Covid was deadly and easily transmitted through the air. Had he acted on this knowledge then he would have (or should have) exhorted the nation to face the threat with fortitude, with pride, and with open eyes. You know, with national unity. And then he would have (or should have) gone to work.
In this fantasy, Mr. Trump first and foremost would have listened to infectious disease specialists, who know more about infectious diseases than he does. From there he would have ordered an immediate wartime scale effort to produce and stockpile ventilators, N95 masks, medical grade gloves and protective gowns, and all of the other items of supplies and equipment needed by our health care heroes. He would have encouraged states and local government agencies to lock down their economies to slow the spread of Covid, even at the cost of economic pain. He would have urged citizens to wear masks and maintain social distancing to slow the spread of Covid. He would have recognized that the pandemic response required a national, nationwide effort, rather than deferring to the 50 states to figure it out on their own, guaranteeing a scattershot response alike to designating one portion of a public pool as the free peeing section.
Had he done these things, then Mr. Trump would have earned a second term. But he did not do these things. Instead, he lied about the threat of Covid. He said it was no worse than the flu. He said the cases of infection would soon go down to zero (cases are now well north of 6 million). And he repeatedly said it would magically go away. The best I can reckon is that in the face of a deadly, economically ruining pandemic, of which he had full knowledge early on, Mr. Trump decided to golf.
Mr. Trump is not fit for the job he holds. The Covid moment met him and gave him the opportunity to demonstrate his goodness and his greatness. But he has failed the moment. His response demonstrates that he is a small and unserious man.
I confess that I cannot fathom why people support Mr. Trump. He is such a bleedingly obvious con man. He is the man who established Trump University, and then paid $25 million for the privilege of asserting that he did not con people out of their money who enrolled in Trump University. Don’t get me wrong; I am a fan of universities founded by presidents. I earned my undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia (founded by the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States), an institution of higher learning that takes itself seriously. Would that the current President of the United States did the same.
Darrell M. Allen is an employment and criminal defense attorney. He lives with two nice Republican ladies north of I-40, where they run two head each of dog and cat.