Failure

You want to know just how far we’ve tumbled into this awful parallel universe that’s like a distorted funhouse-mirror version of the place we’re supposed to be? Far enough that I’m actually finding wisdom in the writing of David Frum, the man who gave George W. Bush the phrase “Axis of Evil.” That’s how screwed up everything is. So screwed up that I’m not only listening to the propagandist who helped Dubya bamboozle this nation into an unjust, endless (and endlessly expensive) war, but that I’m nodding in agreement with him.

Frum’s breakdown in The Atlantic of Donald J. Trump’s catastrophically incompetent response to the COVID-19 plague is exhaustive, irrefutable, and frankly pretty damn nauseating. Given how quickly events have seemed to move and how quickly we’ve lost track of all the contradictory statements and back-and-forth dithering — a fog of war that I believe has been quite deliberately promulgated by the Con Artist in Chief — it’s well worth your effort to wade through, to remind yourself. But everything that the history books will really need to report is contained in the opening paragraphs:

That the pandemic occurred is not Trump’s fault. The utter unpreparedness of the United States for a pandemic is Trump’s fault. The loss of stockpiled respirators to breakage because the federal government let maintenance contracts lapse in 2018 is Trump’s fault. The failure to store sufficient protective medical gear in the national arsenal is Trump’s fault. That states are bidding against other states for equipment, paying many multiples of the precrisis price for ventilators, is Trump’s fault. Air travelers summoned home and forced to stand for hours in dense airport crowds alongside infected people? That was Trump’s fault too. Ten weeks of insisting that the coronavirus is a harmless flu that would miraculously go away on its own? Trump’s fault again. The refusal of red-state governors to act promptly, the failure to close Florida and Gulf Coast beaches until late March? That fault is more widely shared, but again, responsibility rests with Trump: He could have stopped it, and he did not.

The lying about the coronavirus by hosts on Fox News and conservative talk radio is Trump’s fault: They did it to protect him. The false hope of instant cures and nonexistent vaccines is Trump’s fault, because he told those lies to cover up his failure to act in time. The severity of the economic crisis is Trump’s fault; things would have been less bad if he had acted faster instead of sending out his chief economic adviser and his son Eric to assure Americans that the first stock-market dips were buying opportunities. The firing of a Navy captain for speaking truthfully about the virus’s threat to his crew? Trump’s fault. The fact that so many key government jobs were either empty or filled by mediocrities? Trump’s fault. The insertion of Trump’s arrogant and incompetent son-in-law as commander in chief of the national medical supply chain? Trump’s fault.

For three years, Trump has blathered and bluffed and bullied his way through an office for which he is utterly inadequate. But sooner or later, every president must face a supreme test, a test that cannot be evaded by blather and bluff and bullying. That test has overwhelmed Trump.Trump failed. He is failing. He will continue to fail. And Americans are paying for his failures.

Today, Friday, April 10, 2020, my religious friends are all engaged in a day of fasting and prayer to heal the world of COVID-19. I don’t believe this will do any good. I’m not a religious man, and if there is a God, I don’t believe He or She or It troubles themselves much with what happens down here on this lowly speck of cosmic dust. But even I have reached a point where I just can’t think of much else to say except… God help us.

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