A Special Circle of Hell Awaits

This past week in the New York Times, the columnist Frank Bruni wrote:

When the direness of this global health crisis began to be apparent, I was braced for the falsehoods and misinformation that are Trump’s trademarks. I was girded for the incompetence that defines an administration with such contempt for proper procedure and for true expertise. But what has taken me by surprise and torn me up inside are the aloofness, arrogance, pettiness, meanness, narcissism and solipsism that persist in Trump — that flourish in him — even during a once-in-a-lifetime emergency that demands something nobler.

Under normal circumstances, these traits are galling. Under the current ones, they’re gutting.

He’s quite right of course. Except for the part about being surprised.

Did anyone really think Trump would rise to the occasion of this crisis? Far from drawing forth some latent leadership ability that lay dormant for 73 years (or even an iota of previously undetected humanity), the sheer extremity of the crisis has brought out the worst in him, which is really saying something.

For even with our Marianas Trench-low expectations, Trump’s behavior has been jawdroppingly appalling.

We all know the litany of absolutely unconscionable things our Dear Leader has done to make this pandemic worse than it had to be — what the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent called “one of the most monumental and destructive leadership failures in modern times”:

His ignorant refusal to heed all the many, dire warnings of the coming catastrophe.

His lies about how we had the virus “controlled,”about how one day it would just miraculously disappear, about the availability of testing.

His dallying not only in invoking the Defense Production Act, but his complicity in the profitable export of crucial medical supplies, including PPE and ventilators, at a time when the best medical experts were beseeching him to stockpile them.

His pitting of state against state in a Darwinian economic battle for those desperately needed supplies, part of his general, abject failure to provide even the charade of national leadership.

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Robert Edwards / The King's Necktie

Writer, filmmaker, and veteran — blogging at The King’s Necktie @TheKingsNecktie