Donald Trump has admitted on the Woodward tapes that he “played down” the dangers of Covid-19 when he already knew it was “deadly”. He lulled Americans into a false sense of security when he knew the dangers were real. As a result thousands of Americans did not take the precaution they could have taken had they been told the truth. I can’t think of a worse indictment for an American president. It is like the American presidents who lied to the public about the real reason for the War in Vietnam and the real state of that war while young men and women followed them and their generals into battle and died. I can think of only one word to describe such actions: egregious.
Trump did not deny lying. Instead he claimed he lied so Americans would not panic. While this is much less believable than the claim that he did this so Americans would not know how badly he had led the fight against the pandemic, he showed no hesitation at encouraging Americans to fear violence on the streets of America from the forces of antifa and Black Lives Matter. Trump’s entire political strategy is to spread fear.
As Jill Colvin of the Associated Press reported, this is what happened at a Michigan rally after the lies were revealed by Bob Woodward:
“This whack job that wrote the book, Trump told the crowd. “They wanted me to come out and scream, ‘People are dying, we’re dying.’ No, no. We did it just the right way. We have to be calm. We don’t want to be crazed lunatics.”
Given what Trump has been doing at his rallies this claim loudly rings false. As Colvin reported,
“Trump seemed to have no issue leaning into fear at the rally. He lobbed several unsubstantiated accusations at Biden and Democrats, including charging they want to shut down auto plants — despite the Obama administration’s work to save the industry — and “delay” the production of a coronavirus vaccine. Biden, he claimed, would terminate travel bans Trump has implemented, overwhelming the state “with poorly vetted migrants from jihadist regions” and refugees “from terrorist hot spots around the world.”
Spreading fear is exactly what Trump always does. It is exactly what his entire campaign for re-election is based on—scaring Americans into voting for him. Again, as Colvin reported,
“He continued his racially charged appeal to suburban voters who turned to Democrats during the 2018 midterms, warning that under a Biden administration, “far left lunatics” would be placed in charge of the federal government and courts and American suburbs would be destroyed. “Does anyone want to have a member of antifa as a resident of your suburb? I don’t think so,” Trump declared, telling his supporters, “Your vote will save America.”
What could be scarier than that? So Trump has lied in a sad attempt to get around his earlier lies. Trump’s lies only get more outrageous. Now I am not trying to beat a dead horse. Everyone knows Trump lies. He does it all the time. He probably can’t tell the difference between lies and the truth anymore. There is nothing interesting about that. That is not the point.
The point is how will the American public respond? In particular how will his loyal supporters respond? Will they continue to acquiesce to the lies? Will they again shrug them off? If so, they are revealing a lot of truth about themselves.