Trump Just Sealed His Own Doom
The president’s bogus spiel about disinfectants rattled a reeling nation. And kicked the door open for Biden.
This was not a gaffe. It was not a slip-up, nor was it a miscue or a misfire or a blooper or even a blunder.
This was a presidential killer. There is no coming back from this. In the thick of a global contagion, in a moment begging for steady leadership, the president of the United States stood before the world and revealed that he not only lacked decency, tact, or political experience — we knew that already — but something far more fundamental to leaders of every stripe: common sense.
And there is no room for a president lacking common sense, not in the throes of a pandemic.
President Trump on 'Injecting' Disinfectants
Clip Of President Trump with Coronavirus Task Force Briefing After Acting Homeland Security Under Secretary for Science…
Too many political observers are caught up in semantics. Was President Trump actually recommending that everyday Americans try chugging bleach to ward off the coronavirus? Was he really suggesting that we stir our cocktails with Windex to ensure a virus-free dinner party? Does he want me to procure a miniature, ultra-powerful flashlight, ram it up my ass, and anchor it in place for an uncomfortable duration, the better to let those curative ultraviolet rays run rampant through my body, zapping any pesky virus that might stand in their way?
No, Trump was making no such suggestions. Or at least, well — I guess I’m not sure. And that’s kind of the point.
In the span of two months, the “invisible enemy,” COVID-19, has killed more than 50,000 Americans. The death toll is on pace to gallop past the 58,220 U.S. military casualties suffered during the Vietnam War — a conflict that raged for over a decade — and perhaps exceed the 116,115 who fell in World War I. At this point, no one knows what final wreckage this disease will inflict, or when it will end.
Uncertainty chokes every corner of society. When can we all go back to work? When will testing become broadly available? When will social-distancing stop dictating our every move? When can I stop scrubbing my hands raw with soap? And ultimately, when will we stop living in fear?
The gravity of the moment — deepened by a mounting death toll, a wary public, and an encroaching election — rendered Trump’s bizarre tangent more politically damaging than anything he has said or done since taking office. It left a physic scar on voters that won’t soon heal, not when, in six months’ time, they must decide which administration to lead them through a potential second wave of coronavirus in the winter.
Our president is unhinged enough to stand before a frightened audience and float bogus theories about filling your lungs with poison as a means of combating illness.
Make no mistake, though: Trump’s disinfectant display will not sway his base. If anything, it will spur them to double down on their support for the man, since the media’s ensuing fixation on the incident proves to them that reporters are more focused on Trump’s quirks than his rightful obsession with reopening the economy at all costs. For the country-club sector of Trump’s base, the epidemic’s toll is felt in the inconveniences wrought by lockdowns — a sudden inability to take the boat off the dock or buy gardening supplies or play golf — so their anger is aimed at restrictionist governors, not the president.
To those further down the economic totem pole, this crisis is anything but abstract. Black and Latino Americans are dying at disproportionately high rates. Essential workers like nurses and grocery clerks are risking their lives every day. Small businesses aren’t receiving the loans they were promised. Unemployment claims are piling up by the millions.
These are the people who will never forgive Trump for downplaying the threat all through February while the coronavirus embedded itself from sea to shining sea. And these are the people who will walk into voting booths and remember all the critical failures — from flippant denials to delayed testing kits to PPE shortages — distilled into one display of bald-faced incompetence back in April, when Trump followed his stunning hypothesis about disinfectants by saying, “I’m not, like, a doctor, but I’m a person who has a good you-know-what.” And they will circle Joe Biden.
To some, none of that other stuff really mattered. The impeachment trial? A high-minded waste of time. Calling Mexicans rapists and murderers? ‘Bout time we protect American workers. Paying off porn stars? Don’t affect me.
But this is real. This affects all of us. We are, as the New York Times recently noted, ensnared in “the first global crisis in more than a century where no one is even looking to the United States for leadership.” Because our president is unhinged enough to stand before a frightened audience and float bogus theories about filling your lungs with poison as a means of combating illness.
And then claim it was all a sarcastic ruse. As if that’s helpful.
If you’re a swing voter in a battleground state, and you’re worried about this thing starting all over again when flu season hits, is that the guy you are going to pick in November?
Those voters will turn out for Biden, and they’ll probably end up flipping the Senate to the Democrats, too. And it won’t be because Biden is a golden candidate — far from it. Lord knows the old man ain’t as sharp as he used to be.
The key difference is self-awareness. Unlike Trump, Biden understands his cognitive deficiencies, which is why he’ll surround himself with competent administrators feeding his agenda rather than sheepish bootlickers feeding his ego. That’s an approach everyone wants, regardless of political affiliation.
“I am a gaffe machine,” Biden admitted in 2018, “but my God, what a wonderful thing compared to a guy who can’t tell the truth.”