A Presidency Strutting and Fretting Upon the Stage

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Several weeks ago, I agreed to refrain from political postings during this crisis. But I find I can no longer, in good conscience, do this.  Silence is agreement, and given the actions, or inactions, of this President, I cannot remain silent.

There was a final straw. An act by the President so outrageous it compelled me to end my self-imposed moratorium. The President of the United States attacked the very people who are saving American lives at great personal risk. The ones bearing the burden of this President’s failure to act, incompetence, and megalomania. This is what our President said on his favorite form of communication, Twitter.

“Massive amounts of medical supplies, even hospitals and medical centers, are being delivered directly to states and hospitals by the Federal Government. Some have insatiable appetites & are never satisfied (politics?)”

Let that roll around in your brain for bit, insatiable appetites & are never satisfied (politics?). If by never satisfied he means they won’t stop pleading for adequate supplies until they can do their jobs and save lives, then that is what professionals do. If by politics he means they are putting personal political beliefs before the oath to “do no harm,” then he is pathetically mistaken.

This statement by the President defies explanation and is inexcusable.

The only thing insatiable in this country right now is the President’s ego and penchant for self-aggrandizement.

In the words of the immortal Popeye, “That’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more.”

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The Trump Presidency is like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, consumed by ego as he “struts and frets his hour upon the stage.” When we need skilled, cohesive, and dependable actions, we get a changing kaleidoscope of inconsistency, back-pedaling, and philistine hypocrisy.

The man cannot even read a prepared statement—one he’s had time to review before appearing at the press conference—without turning it into gibberish. I daresay, if history had placed Mr. Trump in the Presidency on December 8, 1941, Congress would have voted to surrender to Japan, not declare war.

This is not our finest hour.

Having access to some of the best and the brightest in the world, this President still cannot craft a clear and believable message. A message the American people can put their faith in with some confidence.

It would seem Mr. Trump is ignoring the recommendations of those who know better and relying on people with no experience or competence to manage a crisis.

Mr. Trump continues playing Jazz music with a Beethoven score right in front of him. Instead of following the lead of the conductor—in this case, the medical and logistical experts—he riffs off on atonal, arrhythmic pieces out of sync with reality.

Ignoring the warnings right from the beginning—or more likely unable to digest the essential facts—Trump chose a precarious course. His well-established indifference and fundamental inability to grasp intelligence briefings contrary to his delusions of reality compounded by his contempt for sharing the spotlight with anyone, has left the most powerful, technically savvy nation in history foundering like a prehistoric culture facing invasion by a 21st-century army.

No doubt the blatant exposure of Trump’s inability to lead the nation in this time of crisis compounded the stock market volatility. The market reacted like a blind man in a train tunnel with the whistle coming closer and closer.

They didn’t know which way to turn, and neither does this administration.

When the President announced continued federal restrictions until April 30—his hand forced by a reality even he could not ignore—he offered these gems to underscore his innate resistance to listening to anything but his own irrationality. Evidence of his inability to accept things in conflict with his Alice in Wonderland’s view of the world.

“You’re going to have mental depression for people. You’re going to have large numbers of suicides. Take a look at what happens in a really horrible recession or worse. So you’re going to have tremendous suicides.”

And then there was this pearl of wisdom.

“You will see drugs being used like nobody’s ever used them before, and people are going to be dying all over the place from drug addiction.” (as an aside Mr. President, there is the Opioid Crisis, but I know multitasking might be too high an expectation for the President of the United States.)

But the most troubling statements come when he weighs in on medical issues and the logistics of coping with the pandemic caused by this virulent strain of Coronavirus. Perhaps he is relying on his medical degree from Trump University. Wait, that particular specialty wasn’t on the list of items for sale. Must be his innate comprehension of science we’ve so often witnessed.

“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” (alluding to a request by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, a request which Dr. Fauci, an actual Medical Doctor, and a host of other medical professionals agree with.)

The President made the statement despite government reports predicting such shortages in a severe pandemic — and he reversed course, later calling for urgent steps to produce more ventilators.

We are a nation (mis)led by a manic-depressive with delusions of grandeur surrounded by a court of jesters who stand guard to ward off those who know what they are doing.

Need proof?

To reassure Americans, he let Vice President Mike Pence put Jared Kushner in the chain of command coordinating efforts between the government and the private sector to produce ventilators and other necessary medical equipment. 

I don’t know about you, but if I were sitting in a hospital facing a shortage of ventilators, diagnosed with COVID-19, and suffering from an immunocompromised system, I’d do two things; make sure I paid my life insurance, and not waste any money buying a long novel to read.

If all that doesn’t worry you, this should. Jared Kushner, who Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times described in her piece on April 3, 2020, as “dilettantism raised to the level of sociopathy,” has taken on an even more significant coordinating role in the federal government’s response to the pandemic. It’s good to know expertise, qualifications, and proven experience matter to this administration.

My first reaction to the headline for Goldberg’s piece, Jared Kushner is Going to Get Us All Killed (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/opinion/jared-kushner-coronavirus.html) was it was over-the-top.

But on reflection, it may be an understatement. Nepotism is a poor basis for entrusting critical government efforts during national emergencies. Neither is listening to pleas such as, “but Daddy, give him one more chance …”

By the time Jared figures out a way to profit from the ventilators, the demand may be lower. Then the President can tout how Kushner saved the government money on unnecessary medical equipment.

Speaking on Fox, Mr. Trump suggested that because of his early travel restrictions on China, “a lot of the (Chinese) people decided to go to Italy instead” — though Italy had issued a more wide-ranging ban on travel from China and done so earlier than the United States.

Maybe we should have Rush Limbaugh run a story that the COVID-19 virus targets Trump supporters, that might get the President’s attention. It’s not like Limbaugh needs any facts to back it up, that would be out of character.

And at a White House briefing, the President said he was the “first one” to impose restrictions on China. North Korea, for one, imposed restrictions ten days before the United States. I guess his BFF Kim Jong Un left that out of their instant messaging chat.

And here is the most telling act. While the President was minimizing the threat and ignoring pleas from the World Health Organization (WHO), his own CDC, and Infectious Diseases experts to begin testing and preparations, his State Department facilitated sending supplies to China. Here is the link from the State Department. https://www.state.gov/the-united-states-announces-assistance-to-combat-the-novel-coronavirus/

And if this is not enough, read the same State Department’s own words on their response to the pandemic. https://www.state.gov/coronavirus/ Either they knew how bad it would be and ignored it or their bungling and incompetence placed this nation at risk. In either case, it is reflective of the disaster that is the Trump administration.

Mr. Trump complained long and loud about President Obama sending billions of dollars to Iran as part of the nuclear arms treaty. At least that money belonged to Iran, frozen while they negotiated the treaty. Mr. Trump sent American supplies to China while he knew of the inevitable spread of the virus to the US and the shortages we faced.

Then he has the audacity to criticize the nurses and doctors on the front lines begging for the equipment to do their job.

Think about that for a moment. Think about that when the doctor says they don’t have enough ventilators for your mother, or father, or child. Take comfort that the Chinese, who misled the world on the severity of the virus, are using American made medical supplies to save Chinese lives.

America is a generous nation, something I would not want to see change, but also remember charity begins at home. Either the President could not foresee this looming crisis despite all the evidence pointing to a pandemic, or he willfully ignored it. In either case, it makes him unfit for the responsibilities of the office.

Now, we are forced to beg supplies from the Russians. How is this President making America great again? If he knew all these things were wrong and mishandled in the past, what did he do with the last three years in office besides play golf and manage a never-ending parade of cabinet heads and advisers?

How did this happen? How did we elect such a man to the Office of the President?

This happens when Americans think electing a “businessperson” to run government is a good idea. Profit motives are a necessity for business owners, not for elected officials. This trend to “government is the problem” begun under Reagan has manifested itself in a government that sees itself as a servant to Wall Street and business, not their watchdog.

As Noam Chomsky points out in this article (https://truthout.org/articles/chomsky-ventilator-shortage-exposes-the-cruelty-of-neoliberal-capitalism/) there is no profit in preparing for what might happen. But that is what the government should focus on. I may not agree with much of what Chomsky says, but here he has a valid point.

This administration didn’t drain the swamp, it emptied the talent pool of experienced and competent career government service employees and covered it over for a putting green.

They do plan well with the military. No one argues when defense spending rises to higher and higher levels. They ignore that the increase is somewhat driven by the revolving door of career military officers leaving to become lobbyists for the military-industrial complex—not necessarily actual needs—perpetuating the cycle.

Remember Eisenhower’s warning?

How about we shave a few billion off the defense budget to actually defend Americans from a deadly enemy. One that is a clear and present danger. One that has the potential to kill more Americans than any terrorist ever dreamed.

One that will be back again and again as certain as Mr. Trump will take to Twitter to leave more fodder for historians to shake their heads over as they try to define this anomaly.

We do not need a businessperson to lead the nation, we need a political leader. A statesman. A person whose focus is on protecting and preserving America and our partnership with the rest of the world. Not just seeking advantages in economics or trade, but a fair share. One who promotes the health, welfare, and safety of all who would live in peace, and presents a challenge to those who would subvert our freedoms.

In Mr. Trump, we got a businessperson—not even a successful one unless ethical practices don’t matter—with a focus on making money, zero-sum negotiations, securing business advantages, and increasing market share. One who turned bankruptcy into an art, almost singlehandedly turning it into a growth industry. (https://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/donald-trump-business-failures-complete-guide.html/)

The art of the bad deal.

What we need is a leader whose focus is on protecting the nation from events we can reasonably expect to come to pass. Perhaps if his bone spurs had at least allowed him to be a Boy Scout, he would understand about being prepared.

Now in all fairness, Mr. Obama is not blameless here. Faced with multiple outbreaks during his administration, the government seriously drew down the federal stockpile of N-95 masks and related material.

No serious efforts were made to replenish the stocks after the 2014 outbreak. Whether this was a consequence of the expressed roadblock by the Republican controlled Congress for any Obama initiatives or not, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. Even with this, the stockpile was not “empty” as Mr. Trump contends. (https://www.factcheck.org/2020/04/trump-falsely-claims-he-inherited-empty-stockpile/)

Nevertheless, any failure by the Obama administration does not translate into an amnesty for this administration. If the Trump administration’s policy was a continuation of ignoring the recommendations that the stockpile be replenished, they bear the burden because they are in office.

Keep in mind, Mr. Trump was keenly aware the Coronavirus was a problem before his State of the Union address on February 6, 2020. It was part of the text of the speech. Here’s what he said,

Protecting Americans’ health also means fighting infectious diseases. We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the Coronavirus outbreak in China. My Administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat.”

He has an odd sense of what “all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat” means. Crossing your fingers and denial is not a strategy.

And the argument that the Impeachment Trial distracted him is laughable on its face. He played golf and held rallies at the same time. Would it be too much to ask he at least read one Presidential briefing about the potential threat instead of wishing it away?

Perhaps redirecting the funding for a few sections of the still as yet incomplete wall might have gone a long way to mitigate the issue. But instead the wall took priority and in his efforts to cut funding for other programs he cut the very office created to plan and manage the response to a pandemic .(https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2020/03/18/coronavirus-did-president-trumps-decision-disband-global-pandemic-office-hinder-response/5064881002/)

Remember this history of President Trump’s handling of the pandemic. He followed his usual pattern.

  1. Fake news
  2. Nothing we can’t solve in a day
  3. We are better than anyone handling this
  4. Everything is Beautiful
  5. It’s a Liberal Democratic Conspiracy
  6. It’s Obama’s Fault

Don’t believe me? These are his words.

“We have very little problem in this country.” with five cases, he said in late January.

He used the same dismissive tone on March 5, as the number of cases had grown by a factor of 25. “Only 129 cases,” he wrote on Twitter.

A day later, he claimed that this was “lower than just about” any other country. (Developed countries like Australia, Britain, Canada, and populous India had fewer reported cases at that point.)

By March 12, when the tally had again increased tenfold to over 1,200, the President argued that too was “very few cases” compared to other countries.

He has also suggested many times the Coronavirus is no worse than the flu.  “You call it germ, you can call it a flu. You can call it a virus. You can call it many different names. I’m not sure anybody knows what it is.”

I know what it is not, Mr. President, it is not your finest hour. Let’s hope it’s not our last.

Let’s hope there is more to our President than “…a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

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3 thoughts on “A Presidency Strutting and Fretting Upon the Stage

  1. Good Morning : YOU ARE 100% spot on! Thank you!

    On Mon, Apr 6, 2020 at 7:00 AM The Writing of Joe Broadmeadow wrote:

    > Joe Broadmeadow posted: ” Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor playerThat > struts and frets his hour upon the stageAnd then is heard no more. It is a > tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing.William > Shakespeare, Macbeth Several weeks ago, I agreed to refr” >

  2. You hit all the nails. No doubt there’s $ to made off the pandemic and trump and kushner are grift in their way through our blood. The fervor of the GOP to support this mess is criminal

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