Donald Trump and Pandemic Reality

Fellow citizens, please take note: A President of the United States needs to be concerned not with circumstances as he or she would like them to be, but as they really are, and to lead the nation diligently through them.

President Donald Tump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, however, has been far different.

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Bob Woodward in February of 2020,  “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Mr. President, it’s not what you like,  but the realities of things as they are, like a coronavirus pandemic. Presidents are in office to lead, not to mislead or dissemble. They can get lots of help from government agencies as well as understanding from fellow Americans, akin to FDR’s New Deal.  Instead we have something akin to a charnel house.

Despite knowing that the virus was “deadly stuff”‘ and highly contagious, Trump often  said that it was under control and would go away.

That is so mistaken, the opposite of leadership. A stance like that, in fact, goes far to justify the subtitle of Mary Trump’s book on her Uncle Donald, “How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man”.

Dissembling is always dangerous. But when you are President of the United States, it can have far graver consequences.  Like coping with a pandemic that has so far killed over 200,000 Americans.

Here is a timeline of what Trump said of the virus from January when there was one case through September 23, when there were 7.26 million cases of Covid-19 in the U.S. and 207,000 deaths.

As the Virus Persists, ‘Hurry Up and Wait’

In a time, like the present, of challenge and peril, wishing will get you nowhere. Patience needs to prevail, and that can mean a grueling wait.

In the U.S., from the White House to countless other locales, impatience seems more the rule. We’ve got to ‘open up’, get back to normal, restore jobs, get on with living sustainably.

The problem is, though, the virus has its own timetable and it’s going to take longer for a vaccine to be available then we sometimes feel we can endure.  Witness, as The Washington Post reports,  the situation that exists in Beirut, Lebanon. 

“Lebanon on Tuesday became the latest country to reimpose restrictions after experiencing a surge of infections,” the Post reports, “almost exactly two weeks after it appeared to have contained the spread of the virus and began easing up. Authorities ordered a four-day, near-complete lockdown to allow officials time to assess the rise in numbers.”

“Authorities” everywhere need to be mindful that virus-based events are currently following their own calendar, and to go with the flow of whatever’s best for people in the short to longer-term. Patience and fortitude are today’s highest behavioral and, indeed, political, values.

In South Korea, The Post adds,  President Moon Jae-in is warning the country to “‘brace for the pandemic’s second wave,’ calling the battle against COVID-19 a ‘prolonged’ fight.” And, alas, in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where it all began,  “authorities on Tuesday ordered the testing of all 11 million inhabitants after a cluster of six new infections emerged, five weeks after the city had apparently rid itself of the disease.”

It’s much the same in Germany, “which is widely regarded as the model in Europe of a balanced coronavirus response.” 

Reality these days takes patience, lots of it. In Lebanon, where we began, “authorities have imposed a new four-day lockdown.” Four days only?

 

Tips for the Virus-Wary

Healthline.com has assembled a group of medical experts to discuss the  coronavirus in its present and future contexts. It’s not a happy outlook, but we’d best be aware of what’s ahead.

The first thing is to avoid multiple contacts in crowds and to purchase face masks when they become available. (Drug stores are likely to be out of them more regularly than not.)

Coronavirus is described as “a bullet train without the constraint of train tracks. It is moving very fast in many directions at the same time.” That means the virus will likely be everywhere before much longer. So start taking precautions, say, with your next breath.  If it eases off in a month or two, it’s “likely to recur next fall”. Seriously.

You probably know by now that younger people have a far better chance of   besting the coronavirus than older ones, but that will always be germane.

It’s likely to be 18 months before the U.S. has an effective vaccine for the coronavirus. We could go on, but there’s more first-hand information in the Healthline post. Check it out directly. (And learn how to stop touching your face.)

A Car Dealership Dealing With Coronavirus

Businesses have to worry about attracting customers during a lengthy period during which they will be competing with Coronavirus for their attention. But you’d think a car dealership would have fewer concerns than other businesses, given the essential nature of personal transportation.

That’s not so, however, with our car dealership and service center, Keller Brothers Ford outside Lebanon, Pa. We received an unexpected email from Dan Keller addressed to “Dear Customers and Friends”. They’re clearly not counting on the essential nature of their customers’ automobiles to maintain business relationships with them.

“Like so many of you,” the email begins, “we have spent the last several days and week learning about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it is impacting us. For Keller Bros. Auto, that means understanding how it affects our employees, customers, and community and then making the necessary adjustments to our store and daily operations.”

Those adjustments include, the email enumerates, “ramping up cleaning services at our stores” and adding hand sanitizer throughout the dealership, “disinfecting all hard surfaces, and all vehicles (whether they are on our lot, or customer vehicles in for service). Our employees have been instructed to stay home if they have presented any symptoms or been in contact with anybody who has been sick.  They have also been prompted to report if either of these has occurred… We will do all that we can to make your visit a safe and clean experience.

“A wonderful passage from which to draw comfort is Psalm 91, where the psalmist specifically discusses how to get through times of fear and illness and hos to navigate these times without worry. “My wife Suzy and I have been reading that passage every night before we go to sleep. These are unsettling times, but we WILL get through it together…”

This from a car dealership that faces business pressures, yes, but is clearly concerned about its customers’ health and welfare. Bless ’em.

Spreading Fairness on the Web

 

Somebody, two guys, actually, has taken the trouble to explore the fairness terrain in a way it can be explained to young people so that it will stay with them as they mature.

David Elkind and Freddy Sweet, of Live Wire Media/Elkind+Sweet Communications, Inc., created a  website, GoodCharacter.com, that includes “lesson plans, activities, programs and resources” on the nature of fairness so it can be grasped by K-12 youngsters in a most engaging way. The site is intended for  “teachers, administrators, custodians, or school bus drivers” – all those “helping to shape the character of the kids you come in contact with”. They might, of course, add parents.

A little more intense attention to the nature and necessity of fairness in daily living – fairness and the awareness thereof – would be a very good thing. Maybe in a generation or so we wouldn’t have so much insulting going on in public life, chiefly in politics.

Practicing fairness builds character and, as GoodCharacter.com notes, “The payoff for having good character is that it makes you a better person and it makes the world a better place.”

How often do you hear a salutary message like that these days? David Elkind and Freddy Sweet are to be congratulated for spreading it web-wide!

Who’s Upholding Fair U.S. Elections?

Well, it appears to be happening. After the Super Tuesday balloting, and now Mike Bloomberg’s withdrawal from the race,  Joe Biden has reached a standoff with Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential competition. And President Trump’s forces have been anticipating Biden’s electoral strength all along – hence the Ukraine controversy over Biden’s son, Hunter.

Also, thanks to the Russians, the integrity of the  U.S. electoral process, in general, has been under cyber assault.  Has an elemental American procedure  – free and fair voting – ever been under such stress? Not likely.

It would be heartening, indeed, to see a more forthright defense of the U.S. presidential election process occurring. But it hasn’t emerged as yet.

“Prior to resigning as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security,” advises material on Wikipedia, “Kirstjen Nielsen attempted to organize a meeting of the U.S. Cabinet to discuss how to address potential foreign interference in the 2020 elections. Mike Mulvaney, the White House Chief of Staff, reportedly warned her to keep the subject away from Trump, who views the discussion as questioning the legitimacy of his victory in 2016.”

And, “Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, has blocked various bills intended to improve election security from being considered, including some measures that have had bipartisan support.”

So the status of American electoral integrity is uneasy indeed. Leaders of the country, regardless of their party membership, need to ensure that a fundamentally fair vote occurs. So far, we don’t hear enough such concerns being expressed.