April 12, 2024

your seats for a wild six months

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
Take your seats for a wild six months
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON – Buckle up. The next six months are going to provide a show – a comedic tragedy America has never previously witnessed. It will be acted out amid protests, a pandemic, an election, and an economy in turmoil. The show’s star, of course, will be our president, Donald Trump as himself.
          Recently, the media touted a “new Trump” based on a handful of briefings where the president seemed newly serious about the pandemic, acknowledging the spread of the virus “may get worse before it gets better.” He said his administration is developing a new strategy to confront the virus, which he said is coming soon and would be great.
          But there is no new Trump, there is only the Trump we have, and he is getting more erratic as his poll numbers crash and a potential electoral landslide loss is in the offing. Almost every day brings a new surprise. Some say there is a rational explanation for such irrational behavior. He keeps us off-balance, never allowing us to concentrate on one inanity after another while always keeping himself center stage.
          Currently, he is holding up a coronavirus relief package for millions of people who have lost their livelihoods because he wants money included in the legislation to build a new FBI building. He is a builder, he reminded reporters, and he would oversee the construction and save the government a lot of money, yet he is neither an architect nor a contractor.
          Talk about someone divorced from reality, and that’s Trump. Remember hydroxychloroquine? That is the anti-malaria medicine Trump is convinced can help people with coronavirus. He was so adamant about it that he took the drug himself for a week and ordered the federal government to add it to the federal stockpile.
          The government has 63 million doses available for distribution, but the FDA has not approved “hydroxy” to treat coronavirus because every randomized trial has shown it does not work.
          Ah, but Trump cannot and does not admit error. He moves on to the next illusion or, as in this instance, doubles down. This week he found an ally in Stella Immanuel, a Houston pediatrician, whose video extolling hydroxy went viral as she stood in front of the Supreme Court Tuesday with several other doctors all wearing white coats and claiming medical expertise. They call themselves “Frontline Doctors,” but they appear to have stronger ties to Tea Party politics than the front lines of fighting the coronavirus.
          In addition to pushing a bogus treatment, Immanuel and the others debunked mask-wearing, saying it is not necessary to combat the virus. Social media companies removed the video for promoting false information, but by then it had been viewed more than 14 million times. President Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., had their tweets taken down and Trump Jr. had his Twitter account briefly suspended.
          Immanuel has been involved in spreading spurious health information in the past, including an assertion that a common women’s disorder, endometriosis, is the result of sex with demons that women have in their dreams. Men, she says on the other hand, have alien sperm. It is pretty far-out stuff, and when Trump was asked about it, he said he didn’t know anything about Immanuel; he just saw her video, which was promoted on conservative media, and thought she was impressive.
          Did he back away from her in the face of new information? No, of course not. He moved on to his next scene.
          Trump is sinking in the polls, but whatever happens on Election Day, we have six more months of Trump. What will it take for his dwindling base to finally give up on this guy? We all thought once that Access Hollywood tape emerged in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign he would be finished. Instead, it may have sealed his victory by catering to like-minded men.
          Four years later, the country has no margin for error. Trump is unbalanced and behaving in ways that are both harmful and unpatriotic. He announced this week he is pulling 12,000 troops out of Germany, moving them to Belgium, Italy, and back to the United States, a move met with bipartisan opposition in Congress.
          Trump told reporters he was not going to be a “sucker” anymore by providing for Germany’s defense, saying the German government was not paying its fair share. Then again, Belgium and Italy are paying an even smaller percentage share of their GDP. This where his lying adds levity because the truth is so transparent. He is doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding. Both men know the troops are on the front line of the NATO alliance in Germany to deter Russian aggression.
          Nancy Pelosi once said with Trump, all roads lead to Putin. As the end of his term draws near, the Russian president is the biggest benefactor of the Trump presidency. It has been reported that the two men spoke on the phone eight times in recent months, and not once did Trump ask Putin about paying bounties to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Previously, he accepted Putin’s word that Russia had not interfered with the 2016 election. The ties are long and deep. Following the 2008 Great Recession that collapsed real estate values, Trump’s son, Donald Jr., said, “In terms of high-end product influx into the U.S. Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. Say, in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo, and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."
          We could say Trump is dancing across the stage with smoke and mirrors, but he is not. The lies are laughable. The actions are transparent. And as his admiring and reality-disconnected audience dwindles, he has made clear his intention to remain on the stage. He will contest the outcome of the upcoming election.
          Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2020 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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