Fearing that his stature among swing voters was being harmed by his disastrously incompetent handling of the coronavirus outbreak, Trump held an interview with the Fox channel yesterday in front of the Lincoln Memorial. It was itself ironic and repulsive that a president supported by Klansmen and Confederate-flag waving white supremacists tried to compare himself to the president who vanquished The South in a defeat so humiliating that it still haunts some of their descendants to this day. But Trump’s words were equally and predictably disgraceful. The main thrust of the interview seemed to be how unfair he has been treated. How dare the media point out his daily lies and distortions? How dare the media look into his corrupt, unethical and possibly criminal financial background? How dare the media demand answers to questions like “where are the virus tests he promised?” How dare the media not lavish him with praise? The epitaph on Trump’s grave should be, “So unfair! So unfair!” The man who (illegally) inherited $400-million from his father has had such a rough life!
But looking beyond Trump’s distorted & self-aggrandizing bullshit, his actions confirm that our national response to the pandemic is still woefully inadequate. The shut-down was supposed to buy our nation time to beef up a testing and tracing capability that Trump never delivered. The shutdown has thus far been squandered amid a storm of broken promises on testing from Trump and Pence. We are now testing roughly 200,000 people a day but we need a minimum of 500,000 rapid-result tests per day to have any chance of containing and tracing the epidemic–and some experts say the real number is actually north of a million tests a day. We could have started a Manhattan project to build our testing capacity back in early February but Trump was too busy scoring points with his cult at his hate-rallies. Now tens of thousands of our citizens have paid–and will continue to pay–the ultimate price for his inaction and dismissive disdain.
At the risk inflaming a tender subject, I saw countless posts and comments on social media this weekend about the Tara Reade accusation against Joe Biden. And without going into the details of her accusation and his response, many of the comments made a claim that seemed profoundly troubling and wrong, namely that we should “believe women.” That’s not my understanding of what the #MeToo movement was all about. It wasn’t that women (and men) who claimed to be the victims of sexual assault should be automatically believed, it’s that they should be heard, taken seriously, valued, and respected–and never dismissed, diminished, or trivialized. They should neither be believed nor disbelieved, but rather listened to with our total attention and their claims given the full weight of our consideration. To set aside our faculties of discernment and inquiry to believe any person blindly is an insult to our intelligence and our ability to gather facts and make judgments based on evidence. That’s why our system of justice rests on the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” Of course, we often make judgments about people and situations before they get to a courtroom, but fairness, equity and equality demand listening, considering and respecting–not belief prior to investigation. I hear Tara Reade and take her claims deadly seriously but I refuse to make any assumption about the veracity of those claims simply because she made them.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”