One of the pithiest commentaries about the chief executive to whom we are shackled comes in five words from San Diego Union cartoonist Steve Breen.
His cartoon shows Donald Trump, reading from a sheet labeled “politics” and training a pointer at “VIRUS” on an easel.
Pictured as a troubled bystander, Uncle Sam cautions, “Less ‘I,’ and more ‘US.'”
But of course, that’s not what this public health matter is about. It’s about The Donald.
Just ask Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. He said we’re hearing so much about COVID-19, the coronavirus, because the media “think this is going to bring down the president.”
Sorry, but I’ve heard countless non-media people talk about the coronavirus over the last week, and not one of them have mentioned Trump.
Surgical masks they mentioned. Drug supply chains disrupted, they mentioned that. Will schools close? Is our government ready for this?
A few mentioned Mike “Pray on It” Pence, no friend of science, overseeing what is done and sanitizing what federal health officials say.
A few commentators have compared Trump’s, “We’re totally prepared,” to George Bush’s, “Mission accomplished.” Appropriate. More appropriately, Trump had better hope this is not his Katrina moment.
It didn’t sound like “we” are prepared when Trump said in a less-than-prepared press conference that a vaccine would be available “fairly quick.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases followed him to the mic to say it’ll be more like a year to a year and a half.
Trump call for emergency funding. This from an administration that has taken major steps to defund key Centers for Disease Control functions and has cut national health spending by $15 billion.
Just one example: In 2018 the CDC had to cease 80 percent of its efforts to prevent global disease outbreaks because it was running out of money. It reduced its presence overseas from 48 countries to 10.
All so that the Republican Party could award tax breaks to billionaires and mega corporations.
Did someone on Team Trump not figure that things like this outbreak might happen? We’ve had SARS. We’ve had the avian flu. We have an increasingly globalized economy. You would think that we would never let our guard down regarding these health matters.
The problem is that we elected someone president who saw the office as a game, not a solemn responsibility. His game was to gratify himself and his kin, and to spite political foes and doubters — to train the laser on everything carrying Barack Obama’s signature, for instance.
When Trump returned to the microphone for a mulligan after his initial swagger about the coronavirus, he almost seemed shaken. Almost.
But you aren’t going to extricate bravado from this man. That’s all he’s about.
Today’s all-big-business-all-the-time conservatives lose their voices when things go wrong in governing and they aren’t up to the task of righting the matter. They just don’t believe in government, or governing.
Hurricane Katrina was a splash portrait in dysfunction brought to us by those who thought anything “we” as our government could do, “they” — private businesses — could do better. What a disaster.
Donald Trump sees “government” as a vessel for “me.”
It’s mostly an impediment to his designs and desires. Governing? That’s not what he got into this to do.
Up to now, by and large, he’s been able to get by as a Fox News troll and fairway hacker. But when the cases of infection start to mount, even the people who told Trump, “You just be you,” will insist that he look like someone else entirely.
Good luck with that.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.