Trying to track the facts as interpreted by the nation’s elected leader is like following the journey of a fly in the dark: You hear the buzz, but it lacks enough consistency to make any predictions on a destination.
So it was this past week, when the moment arrived most feared by those who have tied their own identity to the current occupant of the Oval Office. He flew into his own self-created trap and forever soiled his legacy. Never known for his ability to know when to sit down and shut up, President Trump displayed in two stages his lack of competence and his total lack of credibility.
He did it live on television — not as the result of being set up by what he calls the fake news media — but on his own initiative. He followed staff’s factual report with the speculation that what works to clean bathrooms could be injected into the veins of humans suffering with the deadly COVID19 virus.
Or perhaps you could do something “like a cleansing,” akin to a colonoscopy, with ultra-violet light. Sounded interesting to him, he mused into the mic and the cameras broadcasting the moment into the history books.
So much for critical thinking and judgment.
He wasn’t finished. The day after he made the mess, he returned to the stage for Act Two, saying that he had been kidding, being sarcastic in an effort to bait the news media into overreacting. He leaned into a reporter sitting in the audience and said, “I was looking at you when I said it.”
The reporter responded with a fact, “I wasn’t in the room yesterday.”
So much for credibility.
None of this will make any difference to the faithful. Letter writers dismiss the incompetence as proof that their leader is genuinely human. Give him a break. The liberals are out to get him.
The “blue light and bleach” moment wouldn’t matter so much had not the crisis of the pandemic been fashioned as his political playing field, which exposed — again — his tendency to make everything about him.
Good leadership would not have let that moment happen. Take notes from Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan, a respected Republican.
There’s a reason why polls show most people in the nation trust and appreciate the actions of Hogan and other governors more than they do the president. Most Americans recognize self-serving deflection when they see it and will support a straight-forward acceptance of responsibility.
Honesty also wins points with the news media; blaming others or the press misses the target, because the only thing the press has to lose is credibility, and it cannot concede any debate on the defined truths of public discourse, no matter how many insults it has to endure from the grandstanders in office, at staged demonstrations with their flag-waving and hats and T-shirts, or letters to the editor.
The COVID virus and our reaction to it has changed the way we live for the near future — or longer. The weapons we deploy as a nation are important. The strategies should reflect a united and resolute courage, untainted by partisan or egotistic agendas Facts will defeat one enemy; fiction can defeat the facts, but toxic fictions serve only those whose need for adulation and power exceed any sense of social responsibility.
Shared goals are staying healthy, supporting the health care services infrastructure and people on the front lines of the battle, getting everyone back to work, and repairing damage to an economy that was torpedoed as much by official denials of the threat as anything else.
Everyone has a stake in staying alive, making things better each day in the near future, and then remembering that the longer the view, the better the vision, and good vision will compel us to invest in plans and maintain resources to deal with the unexpected.
Trump is proving the prophecies that he is unfit for the office, and untrustworthy. Today’s polls show Americans increasingly see him in over his head, and sinking.
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Dean Minnich retired from journalism and served two terms as a county commissioner. His column runs Thursdays. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.