Alan Zendell, October 5, 2020
In 2016, millions of Americans felt powerless and left behind. Many of them were hard-working people who the system allowed to fall through the cracks, like the “working poor” who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid but could not afford private health insurance because Mitch McConnell held the public option hostage when Obamacare was passed, hoping to assure its failure. Many had lost their jobs because it was cheaper for their employers to farm them out to China, Indonesia, and anywhere else that had no worker protection laws. And many were simply angry, about non-whites growing in influence, about anything with the word “liberal” attached, about birth control, and about propaganda that people on the left wanted to take their guns away.
People who feel angry and hopeless, who believe they’ve been ignored and see others buying new homes and fancy cars are easy prey for demagoguery. When you’re desperate and someone comes along and claims to feel your pain, promising to fix all your problems, it can be difficult to distinguish healthy, positive self-assurance from hubris. It’s understandable that they were taken in by the con man who now lives in the White House. It’s not their fault that they were caught up in the chaos created by Trump and his Russian surrogates and trusted Facebook and Twitter to shield them from lies.
They know better, now. They know Trump’s signature achievement, a three trillion-dollar tax cut that enriched his wealthy friends and grew the national debt into a burden their children will bear did little or nothing to benefit them. They know he hasn’t stopped corporations from outsourcing jobs, and has continued to do so himself. They know he isn’t smarter than his generals or public health experts, and that he lies virtually every time he speaks. If that wasn’t sufficient, they can now see that his self-serving downplaying of COVID worsened the pandemic, continues to threaten them and their families, and may have damaged our economy so much that their jobs no longer exist.
Now they know what happens when their president, whose primary responsibility is keeping his citizens safe, reneges on that obligation for his own benefit. They know science was right at every turn and Trump was wrong, and arrogance about the virus allowed it to spread out of control. Science predicts that the death toll of 210,000 Americans could grow to 400,000 by year end. Trump’s approval ratings are tumbling as many who voted for him in 2016 now see his demeanor as pure hubris.
He has been humbled by the very virus he helped spread, and irresponsibly infected the people most loyal to him. He claims that being sick with COVID has educated him, that he gets it now, yet he still pressures his doctors to lie about his condition, to convince Americans that the virus isn’t as dangerous as the rest of us know it is. He still refuses to lead by example, eschewing masks and social distancing, placing his own staff in jeopardy.
Yesterday, we witnessed the spectacle of our chief narcissist being chauffeured down Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda so he could bask in the love of his most rabid supporters. He ignored the advice of his doctors and exposed the Secret Service agents traveling with him in a hermetically sealed SUV to the active virus. Taking a bullet for him may be in their job description, but dying of COVID to satisfy his ego is not.
Ignoring CDC’s rules, Trump continued to hold public, close-packed events refusing to require masks, until his Rose Garden presentation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett turned into a virus super-spreader. He may have even infected the judge, but we won’t know for several more days. That, my friends, is HUBRIS. He might as well have held the ceremony in a live mine field.
Today may have been the icing on the cake, when his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, whose unfailing loyalty has tarnished her reputation as a legitimate journalist, reported that she too was infected. No one thought to warn her that presidential aide Hope Hicks, with whom she interacted daily in the mask-free environment of the West Wing, was shedding the virus.
And perhaps worst, from the point of view of national security, is continuing to try to hide the truth about the president’s health because he fears it could cost him votes. That includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who must be kept apprised at all times. If Vice President Pence were to become incapacitated at the same time as the president, Pelosi would be required to serve as Interim President.
Before it was just words and bombast. Now it’s clear that Trump’s hubris is more than noise. It’s a serious threat to our nation’s security.