Trump is Frantically Rewriting His Epic Failures. Don’t Let Him.Breaking News
tags: public health, Donald Trump, coronavirus
In short: We are heading into an exceptionally grim set of circumstances, yet the president recognizes zero institutional responsibility to publicly acknowledge his own failures in a way that might enable himself or all of us to learn from them—and thus benefit the country in the immediate term and in the long run.
“He’s likely to be responsible for many deaths,” Max Skidmore, a political science professor and the author of a book on presidential responses to pandemics, told me.
“We are weeks behind where we should have been if a competent administration had been handling the reaction," Skidmore continued. "The misinformation that he spread caused people to be cavalier.”
Yet Skidmore told me that in one distressing sense, Trump’s handling of the pandemic may also be unprecedented. Unlike previous presidents, Trump appears to only care about appearances in a way that is entirely detached from concern about his government’s actual performance.
“We have seen presidents who refused to learn from the past,” Skidmore said. “But one great danger of the Trump presidency is that he’s uninterested in performance as long as he can create the image that he’s been successful. Actual success is irrelevant to him. The image of success is what’s important.”
Skidmore added that even presidents whose failures he has criticized—George W. Bush’s on Hurricane Katrina; Dwight Eisenhower’s on vaccinations; Woodrow Wilson’s on the Spanish flu—didn’t sink to quite this level of unconcern about actual results.
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