Coronavirus and Russia: Trump and the GOP's double betrayal - 2020-09-11
Not since the Civil War—when leaders responsible for the enslavement and brutalization of millions of Americans sought to destroy the United States and took military action that resulted in the violent deaths of hundreds of thousands of citizens—has a group of politicians so profoundly betrayed the republic. And this band—Donald Trump and GOP officials—has done so on two fronts simultaneously. They have failed to respond effectively to a pair of immense threats: a pandemic that has claimed the lives of close to 200,000 Americans, and a foreign attack on the political foundation of the country. What exacerbates this double tragedy is that Trump and his Republican supporters have done so purposefully. This has been no accident or act of unintentional incompetence. In each case, they sacrificed the public interest—including the well-being and the lives of millions of Americans—to serve their own interests. Trump and his crew have forsaken the United States of America.
It can be easy to lose sight of this big picture, as headlines explode every hour within a political media world cursed by tribalized partisan divisions. There already exists more than enough information to support such an extreme-sounding verdict. But evidence piles up each day—perhaps coming so fast as to overwhelm. The latest revelation (as I write) regarding Trump and the coronavirus crisis is that he told reporter Bob Woodward in March, "I wanted to always play it down." Here is confirmation of what Americans had repeatedly seen with their own eyes for months: Trump lied about the dangers posed by this killer virus. And those lies, mostly unchallenged by his Republican allies and largely echoed by conservative media propagandists, shaped the ineffectual federal response and influenced how millions of Americans viewed the risks posed by the pandemic. One example: sticking with this big lie, Trump, who in early February privately told Woodward that the virus was airborne, refused to encourage mask-wearing. It's likely that thousands—or tens of thousands—have died due to this.
Trump now claims he did not want to spark a panic. That is clearly another lie. This man relishes in causing panic when it doesn't exist: the immigrant caravan, antifa, the end of the suburbs. He downplayed the pandemic because in his misguided political calculation he believed such bad news would harm his election prospects. (Actually, doing his job well in response to this crisis would have been a damn good electoral strategy. But that did not seem to occur to Trump.) So he tossed out bullshit while Americans were perishing and the economy was crashing. He abandoned his solemn duty to protect the citizenry instead holding rallies, focusing on his TV ratings, and dismissing (and promoting disinformation about) the gravest threat to the nation in decades. All through his me-first dance of denial, Republicans stood by Trump. They cheered him on at Tulsa. They watched as he led the nation toward calamity and death. They accepted this; they enabled it all. Trump endangered the nation, and they were just fine with that.