A president deliberately lied to the nation he is legally and morally bound to defend, about a national health crisis. The lies induced many people to take unnecessary risks that have cost lives. We will never know precisely how many lives were unnecessarily lost, which doesn’t at all diminish the magnitude of the disaster.
Does his explanation that he wanted to maintain calm and avoid panic make sense to anyone other than the president and his circle of paid defenders? Exactly how a leader calms the people in times of crisis is one of the best measures of that leader’s competence and character.
When the Germans bombed London, Churchill wanted to calm Britons. He did not do that by telling them to avoid taking shelter, that the falling bombs were no worse than fireworks.
When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt wanted to calm Americans. He did not do that by telling them that Japan’s attack had caused little damage and they were free to continue living as though nothing happened.
During the months that Trump misled America about the danger from the coronavirus, any competent person would have realized two things: (1) the true severity could not be concealed, because people would continue to get sick and die; (2) the very panic he was trying to avoid would occur as people realized the government was lying to them, leaving them to imagine the worst about the real extent of the danger.
Trump competence is a delusion.

Lee Russ

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