By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist
If it wasn’t clear before, it is now, to all but the contentedly Foxified: Putting a multi-failed businessman ostensibly in charge was a bad idea. What was the Electoral College thinking when it gave him tenure?
This week, our businessman-in-chief finalized his killing of automotive fuel standards, gifting oil companies at the expense of public health and the future of our planet. Those are things about which he’s never cared, of course. This was well-known before his “election.”
In one of his recent, beautiful press conferences, the ratings of which he’s touting like he once did his sexual escapades, Trump shared his idea for saving the restaurant industry: let businesses resume deducting expenses when sending their execs to lunch. He was serious.
Nor is it surprising, having scammed his way through life, that he’d accuse hospitals of doing something fishy with the equipment they’re receiving. Long suspected of laundering mob money, Trump figures everyone’s as dishonest as he. And he needs scapegoats to distract from failure. Hospitals. Democratic governors. China. Impeachment, laughably.
Republicans were once outraged when Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama’s chief of staff, said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Now, as Trump follows the script, they’re silent. His EPA is using Covid-19 as an excuse to relax pollution rules. William Barr wants judges to suspend habeas corpus till further notice. Texas has banned abortions during the outbreak. And, as predictable as it’s cruel, Trump rejected an extended Obamacare signup for the millions who’ve just lost their jobs. People about whom we’ve always known he couldn’t care less.
Made more challenging by Trump’s unnecessary, business-friendly, trillion-dollar-deficit-creating tax cuts, the too-small economic rescue package is larded with giveaways to large businesses, including – surprise – real estate investors; while sending a comparative pittance to low-income people, who Steve Mnuchin said can live on $120 a week. Democrats managed to force oversight for the half-trillion dollars heading toward corporations. Forthwith, Trump announced he’d not abide by it. Never been his thing, rules. But he wants his name on the checks.
Also not his thing: reality. While declaring his “decisive” embargo of flights from China saved us all, figuring he’d done everything necessary because the rest was hard, Trump sent tons of supplies to China in January: the very materiel of which there’ve been shortages ever since. Masks, PPE, even ventilators. In early February, senators met with White House officials, who rejected offers to fund stockpiling supplies. Why? Not good business? Meanwhile, his initial foot-dragging and denial, reinforced by Fox “news,” lingers in many red states, where Trumpism is literally killing people.
But he just praised himself for not listening to “those” who said Covid-19 was like the flu. “Those” were he, repeatedly. Astounding. If he sold people on Trump University, in Trumpworld, he figures he can sell that lie, too. Also, only in Trumpworld, where facts are anathema, a truth-teller like Dr. Fauci receives death threats.
After months of ignored warnings, rejecting the pandemic team and plans President Obama left him, and after irresponsibly wasting time downplaying the threat, which Trump wants you to forget, and which the Foxified already have, some things are improving. Where followed, social distancing is working. Still terribly inadequate, testing is ramping up. That’s because, while Trump was claiming there was no crisis, smart people knew better and began preparing. PPE shortages remain, including locally; and, notwithstanding Trump’s continual disinformation, struggling states are having to pay inflated prices to outbid the federal government and each other to obtain them. But, hey, it’s good business. What was it Rahm said, again?
But Trump’s self-praise-fests are getting beautiful ratings, like no one has ever seen (“I’m number one on Facebook,” he said, mid-crisis. Another lie. President Obama has more). Some watch because when he stops congratulating himself, experts speak. For the rest, is it the scripted sycophancy or the made-for-TV attacks on journalists? When a reporter directly quoted him admitting he told Pence not to call governors who aren’t nice, Trump lied he never said it. It’s on tape! Trumpists must love the politicization of aid to blue states, though. Perfectly normal. Remember how President Obama did it with Chris Christie after Hurricane Sandy?
The effort it took to dissuade Trump from declaring victory on Easter to boost his electoral chances confirms his unfitness. Dead people, he had to be told, could threaten reelection as much as a recession. Not the first thought, evidently, of a businessman.
Email Sid Schwab at email@example.com.