Donald Trump reminds me of the mean-mouthed bullies on the school bus and in the hallways when I was a kid – the ones who made fun of girls who had acne or extra weight, beat up guys weaker than them, insulted teachers, and lied about doing their own homework. They were out for themselves.
Trump’s crappy behavior when coronavirus infections began to explode offers one example (among many) for why we need a different president as soon as possible.
Here’s the timeline of the early stage of this pandemic:
Following a Jan. 30 meeting of its Emergency Committee (with official representation by the U.S. government), the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement that there was a serious COVID-19 outbreak in China, which would likely spread to the rest of the world, including the United States.
The statement read: “There are now 83 cases in 18 countries…. It is expected that further international exportation of cases may appear in any country. Thus, all countries should be prepared for
containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of 2019-nCoV infection.”
My husband and I happened to arrive in Guam the day after that WHO statement was posted online. Our oldest daughter was working there as a nurse-anesthetist, and we planned the visit to coincide with our grandchild’s third birthday.
Staffers at our Airbnb complex in Guam greeted us wearing face masks. Swimming pools were closed. Property managers were disinfecting elevators and hallways. Diners sat far apart in restaurants.
In short, by the first week of February, people in the U.S. territory of Guam already were on high alert for the spread of COVID-19, though they had no cases at that time.
Yet when we checked the news back home, we saw that little or nothing was being done on mainland USA to prepare for the arrival of COVID-19. It is true that Trump had curtailed travel from China as of Jan. 30. But that was political posturing – part of his on-off jousting match with China – since his administration did little in regard to “containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention” for most of the month of February.
In fact, on Feb. 7 Trump praised China, tweeting these thoughts: “Just had a long and very good conversation by phone with President Xi of China. He is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus…. Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation.” (That’s not what Trump says now.)
On Feb. 26, Trump held a news conference where he put his vice president in charge of the coronavirus task force and said, “Whatever happens we’re totally prepared.” (No, we weren’t, as every healthcare worker across America will testify.)
On March 7, while visiting the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Trump repeatedly said that anyone who wanted a test for COVID-19 could get one. (Patently not true at the time and remains untrue for much of the country.)
Trump’s supporters apparently feel that part of his charm is speaking off the top of his head.
It is dangerous for a national leader to do this, especially when he ventures into medical speculation, such as suggesting that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu, that hydroxychloroquine might be a safe, effective treatment for COVID-19, and that disinfectant might work to cleanse the body of COVID-19.
It is the mark of a great leader to choose his or her words carefully.
Sadly, Trump is not a great national leader. He’s akin to a schoolyard bully. Blustery. Blaming. Boastful. All marks of an immature adult and a terrible leader.