Politics, Moderate



Trump remains a clueless captive of his own wishful thinking

Steve Chapman on

In 2016, the libertarian magazine Reason polled a few dozen staff, contributors and allies on who would get their votes for president. Almost all planned to cast a ballot for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson. I was alone in stating a firm intention to vote for Hillary Clinton, for three simple reasons: "She's sane, informed and competent."

There is nothing like a deadly pandemic to remind us that these qualities are not dispensable in a president. They are literally a matter of life and death.

In a normal presidential election, uttering such faint praise as I offered Clinton would be the equivalent of calling, "Nice swing!" to a Little Leaguer who has just struck out. But in 2016, the Democratic nominee had a monopoly on the critical virtues, and the Republican had none of them.

Sane? Clinical psychologist George Simon said then that Donald Trump was such a textbook case of narcissism "that I'm archiving video clips of him to use in workshops." Without Trump, he said: "I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He's like a dream come true."

Informed? Trump imagined he could make Mexico pay for a border wall. Every time he addressed an issue, he made his ignorance obvious.

Competent? He had gone through multiple bankruptcies, while engineering such fiascoes as Trump Shuttle, Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks.


His televised interview this week with Axios reporter Jonathan Swan was an epic debacle, revealing Trump as an ignorant bumbler who has learned absolutely nothing about doing the job he was elected to do -- and still may not realize that he has anything to learn.

He bragged about how he well his administration has handled the pandemic, oblivious to the human and economic devastation it has caused. He shuffled papers and cited numbers that failed to prove what he insisted -- and may actually believe -- they prove.

Most appalling was Trump's insistence that the pandemic is "under control." Reminded that a thousand Americans have been dying every day, the president had a blithe answer: "They are dying. That's true. It is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it."

"It is what it is"? Imagine George W. Bush saying that about 9/11, or Franklin Roosevelt about Pearl Harbor. Nearly 5 million Americans have contracted COVID-19, and almost 160,000 Americans have died. Trump's own former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, says the dead could total 300,000 by the end of the year. It's a national catastrophe, and the worst may be yet to come.


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