What Trump did by his response to the Covid-19 pandemic and admitted “playing down” of the dangers undermined public confidence in the public health system. He issued directives and then ignored them. He even urged his followers to ignore his own directives. He mocked people who wore masks.
Dr. Craig Spencer was interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN about Trump’s lies about Covid. The physician was a Director of Global Health Emergency Medicine at Columbia University. In that position he became experienced at delivering bad news to sufferers of Covid and their loved ones. It’s not easy to tell people their loved ones are going to die. He was infuriated by what Trump did in misleading the public. As Spencer said, “the lies coming from the president are almost impossible to keep up with and correct.” This is what Dr. Spencer said about the Trump: “As a public health professional I am furious.”
On February 26, 2020 president Trump said his administration was doing a ‘terrific job” of handling the pandemic. I’m glad he thought so. No one else did. Dr. Sanjay Gupta a frequent CNN medical commentator had this to say about Trump: “He knew the truth and just didn’t do it.” Instead Trump made not wearing a mask a political statement. As Jamie Gangel said, “He was really paranoid about getting re-elected.” That is what was on his mind.
The terrible result of what Trump did, according to CNN’s Jim Accosta, was that “he lulled the country into a false sense of security.” As a result many Americans let their guard down. And they paid a horrible price for doing that. It was a scandal. Trump got his supporters to sign waivers of claims they could have against Trump while he misled them about the truth of the dangers. Even on the White House grounds for his convention speech the fans, squeezed in tight without social distancing had to sign a waiver releasing Trump when Trump knew it was dangerous and did not tell them. How would you feel if one of your loved ones died as a result of being misled by the President of the United States. As he admitted on the Woodward tapes, he knew the virus was “deadly” and not only kept quiet about that, he actively encouraged people to attend rallies whether or not they socially distanced. I hope the lawyers of those people are urging their clients to sue Donald Trump for those waivers would likely not hold up in court. That could mean 190,000 lawsuits.
Yet Trump is running his current campaign on a platform of fear. He is deliberately trying to get people to be scared. As he said, “leadership is all about confidence.” Confidence in this context is another word for the flim flam game. Trump did not want to look weak in the campaign.
Carl Bernstein, the other Washington Post investigative reporter in the Watergate file, called the Woodward tapes the “ultimate smoking gun revealing probably the greatest felony of any president in history!” Just as with Eugene McCarthy, over confidence caught up with Trump. Hubris has been the Achilles heel of many a tyrant.
Abby Philip another CNN reporter said, “the president thinks he can create his own reality—the one he thinks fits his re-election chances or political prospects best.”
The important question is whether or not his supporters buy into that “reality.” That is what counts. It will say a lot about his supporters if they do.