Donald Trump has been presented with an opportunity to show true leadership and prove to the American people that he can guide us through a national crisis.
He has failed miserably.
The timing of this fiasco couldn’t be worse for Trump’s reelection chances. New polling that came out Wednesday showed the president trailing by as much as 15 points nationally, and had him down by wide margins in nearly every swing state. Trump reacted by demoting campaign manager Brad Parscale to senior advisor and bringing in Bill Stepien to right the ship.
But switching staff won’t be enough to resurrect the president’s plummeting poll numbers. The American people are screaming out for a leader who can fix this nightmare that has ruined many of our lives. More than 138,000 people are dead, many more have survived but suffered through debilitating illness, and the rest of us are either unemployed, terrified, or both. Life as we know it has been destroyed, and it didn’t have to be this way.
Bill Stepien could be the greatest campaign manager in U.S. history, and it won’t be enough to save Trump. The president’s biggest adversary isn’t Joe Biden, it isn’t COVID-19 and it isn’t racial-justice protesters. Trump’s No. 1 opponent is himself, and there is nothing Stepien can do to fix that. Trump’s gross negligence in managing the crisis, and his wildly erratic behavior the last several months, has already been indelibly seared into the minds of every right-thinking American.
Since Trump can’t control the virus, it appears he’s going to attempt to obscure it. In a shocking move Wednesday, the administration ordered hospitals to stop reporting statistics to the CDC and to instead send them to a central database in Washington.
It is a testament to this country’s political polarization that Trump is still managing the 37 percent support indicated by the Quinnipiac poll. If these were the days that preceded the great Democrat-Republican divide, Trump’s disastrous numbers would be even lower.
Forget the tough calls. Trump has blown it when it comes to making easy decisions. When there was a national shortage of ventilators and PPE, and governors begged Trump to enact the Defense Production Act, he balked. For two months, Trump staged bizarre news conferences in which he did everything but allay our fears, famously suggesting at one point that Americans drink bleach and inject light.
In April and May, Trump threw his lot in with the most extremist elements of the population, automatic-weapon toting protesters who were furious with state lockdowns. Taking their cues from the president, Republican-run states like Florida, Texas, Georgia and Arizona reopened way too early, and all are now in the midst of a public-health catastrophe.
Trump has thumbed his nose at public-health officials, and defied common sense, by staging campaign rallies in Oklahoma, Arizona and South Dakota. Two prominent attendees of his humiliating Tulsa rally -- former presidential candidate Herman Cain and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt -- are now stricken with the virus.
While fumbling in every conceivable manner, Trump continues his braggadocios ways, rating his own performance fighting the virus a 10 out of 10 and taking no responsibility for the debacle. Trump has pushed for a premature reopening because he thinks it will help his election chances, but he has just created the conditions for another lockdown, sealing his eventual fate.
Now, Trump wants schools to reopen, a move that would put millions of children’s lives at risk, as well as those kids’ teachers and families. None of this makes sense.
The United States accounts for four percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the planet’s deaths from the virus. That’s not an accident. It’s the result of incompetence. As Americans continue to fall ill and die, Donald Trump posed for a tone-deaf photo Wednesday, at the resolute desk, with two thumbs up.
The irony of this entire saga is that Trump could have catapulted himself to a decisive win in November, and four more years of chaotic rule, had he shepherded the country through this crisis. Instead, he has set himself up for an historic landslide defeat, provided he, vote-suppressing Republicans and his meddling overseas allies don’t have any shenanigans planned.
As far as the people are concerned, Joe Biden can’t take over quickly enough.