Are you running out of outrage?
Attention Deficit Disorder. If you don’t have it, consider yourself lucky. According to the American Psychiatric Association, one out of 25 Americans, and one out of 10 children, have some level of A.D.D., loosely described as the inability to remain focused for a reasonable amount of time on any given task, activity, subject, or conversation.
I’ve got it. My secretary used to warn visitors before entering my office: Don’t waste any time. Get right to the point. You have five minutes max to make your case before his eyes glaze over and he’s no longer paying any attention.
As common as it is, in this age of Donald Trump, I fear A.D.D. has been replaced by a more disturbing malady: O.D.D., or Outrage Deficit Disorder. You know what I mean. You probably have it, too. You get so outraged by one thing Donald Trump says or does, that it’s hard to stir up enough outrage for his next monumental stupidity and, a couple of days later, you hardly have any outrage left at all.
Take last week. It started with a report in Atlantic Magazine that, on a visit to Paris in early 2018, Trump had refused to visit nearby Aisne-Marne American Cemetery because it’s filled with nothing but the bodies of Americans killed in combat, or, as Trump allegedly called them, “losers” and “suckers.” Which filled us all with outrage.
Then, two days later, we learned the unbelievable news from Bob Woodward, confirmed by Trump himself on tape, that, starting in January, Trump knew all along how serious the coronavirus was, but deliberately kept that information from the American people. “I wanted to always play it down,” he told Woodward on March 19, “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.” In other words, he knew the coronavirus was deadly, but decided not to tell us. Instead he insisted the virus would soon disappear. He refused to wear a mask. He did not practice social distancing. He lied and almost 200,000 Americans (so far) have died.
Could there be anything more outrageous than that? YES! Donald Trump’s trip to California this week, ostensibly to get a briefing on wildfires that continue to ravage the state.
First, let’s put that visit in perspective. For weeks, wildfires had roared through the West, not only in California, but also in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. America had never seen wildfires like this. At one time, over 200 fires were burning in 13 states. Over 5 million acres have been consumed by fire, dozens lost their lives, thousands of homes were destroyed, hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes. And fire officials in every state, red and blue, agreed that this year’s never-before-experienced wildfires were the direct result of climate change.
Yet during all that time, Donald Trump said nothing about the wildfires. Not one word. Then, this week, he scheduled a hurried visit to California. Why? To offer federal assistance? To express sympathy for victims of the fires? To regret the loss of lives and property? No way. Trump went to California for one purpose only: to blame governors for the fires because of poor forest management (even though the vast majority of fires occurred on federal, not state lands) and to deny, yet again, the reality of climate change, which spurred this telling exchange with California Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot.
After state officials briefed Trump on the record number of acres and homes destroyed, Trump tried to reassure them: “It’ll start getting cooler, you watch.” Crowfoot shot back: “I wish science agreed with you.” To which Trump sneered: “I don’t think science knows, actually.” As if the Fifth Avenue penthouse billionaire with his golden bathroom fixtures knows anything about science.
At which point, if you have any left, bring on the OUTRAGE. Having ignored science to deny the deadly reality of the coronavirus, Trump is now, once again, ignoring science to deny the reality of climate change. Which, I believe, is even worse. Because, despite Trump’s lack of leadership, and thanks to our great health professionals, we’ll someday have a vaccine and put coronavirus behind us. But climate change is not going away. It’s here in the record number of deadly wildfires, tornadoes, and hurricanes. It’s here in rising sea levels. It’s here in record temperatures. It may, in fact, already be too late to reverse its destructive impact.
Only by following science can we save American lives and save the planet. But Donald Trump doesn’t care about either. Feeling the outrage?
(Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of the new book, “Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump (And One to Keep Him).” His email address is: email@example.com. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.)