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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/15/20

The Coronavirus and a Kakistocracy Like No Other

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There have been loud, strident and ongoing criticism of the Trump Administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and its creeping spread in the United States. And, many, many individuals and political hacks have used this health challenge to take political pot-shots at a president that they detest, and who would be vilified even if he discovered the cure for cancer. In fact, political tribalism and partisan division is now THE 21st century norm in American political life. To be sure, President Trump is his own worst enemy, given to bombastic statements, crass political hyperbole, and publicly displaying an abhorrent adversarial relationship with the truth. That alone should keep most Americans awake at night. This state of affairs is not benign.

It's downright scary and dangerous. If we had to contend only with the president's stretching and tinkering with the truth maybe we could handle that. But the danger lies in the fact that he's surrounded himself with sycophants and spineless lackeys that ONLY tell him what he wants to hear usually things untethered from reality. The fear is real that a vindictive, petty and punitive president prone to fits of anger would exact punishment on anyone who gives him news that's not good for his poll ratings or makes him look bad in his base.

With no "adults in the room," the Trump Presidency has degenerated into a bumbling, inefficient, toady-centric kakistocracy where "up is down, and "down is up," and truth is what he and is yes men and women say it is. And the coronavirus has exposed the serious shortcomings of the president and his kakistocratic administration. The Trump Administration's handling of the coronavirus health crisis in the United States has clearly demonstrated that this president is fundamentally unfit and found wanting in many respects.

While I'm not blaming him for the virus's spread, I do believe that his confused, foot-dragging and defensive response and his administration's slothful modus operandi proved that he's intellectually, temperamentally, and psychologically unfit for office. In fact, the TRUE TEST of any American president is how he (or she) handles the crises that are bound to confront him in office.

For example, President Barack Obama is unique among U.S. Presidents for having took office with BOTH internal and external crises. He inherited two wars that he did not start, a housing market going to hell in a hand-basket, runaway employment going through the roof, and a contracting manufacturing sector. He did not blame his predecessor and took responsibility for the nation from day one. Obama also acted as the consoler-in-chief during a number of awful violent acts and put in place policies and practices to grow the American economy, protect the environment and the climate.

Obama demonstrated good judgment, a willingness to acquaint himself with many issues domestic and international possessed a sterling character and proven leadership ability that MUST be the hallmark of EVERY American president. By contrast, President Trump possesses a disdain for knowledge and is indifferent to facts of science and wallows in an acute sense of hubris that "I alone can fix this" and "I know better than everyone else."

It is combination of ignorance, lackeyism, cronyism and solipsism, mixed with the spitefulness that underpins any kakistocracy that now renders the United States handling of the coronavirus a cheeky punchline in the international community when it evokes comparisons with Japan, China, South Korea and Germany. President Trump and his Administration are overwhelmed by the crisis and lurching from "all is well and sunny" on one side peddled by the president to "this is a crisis that will only get worse" from his own health professionals.

Let me be clear: President Trump could not have prevented the virus from hitting the United States, subjective potshots notwithstanding. But the simple fact is that the administration DID make and are guilty of grave missteps, mistakes and errors highlighted by the manufacturing failures in testing and diagnosis and the rigid resistance by the Federal Government to widen testing regimes and authorizing outside laboratories to do so. I believe that these decisions only resulted in a time-lag that caused the virus to spread. I also think that many in the Federal Government and the Administration were afraid to give the president bad news fearing retribution and his legendary emotional anger.

There are other very troubling signs. To handle ANY pandemic requires nations of the world to work together, especially in a 21st century social paradigm where people are inter-connected like never before. The Trump Transition team, back in 2016, were told that one of the looming threats that the United States would have to confront would be an epidemic. In fact, no less that 5 intelligence estimates put a pandemic threat at the very top of the list that was bound to happen.

President Obama took this very seriously going so far to set up a Global Health Office to address pandemics and epidemics. Even after being briefed about this possibility President Trump's morbid dislike for President Obama resulted in him disbanding this key office. His own infectious disease czar has recently told Congress that "we worked well with this office," and "we're paying the price today." Today, the United States is suffering from the folly of such a decision compounded by the president putting a political lackey and his wingman Vice President Mike Pence to essentially be his coronavirus czar, a man without any medical or science background.

Finally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has working tests that it offered the United States the administration refused. Even if these tests were not "made in the USA" they would have "bought us time," allowed us to get a handle on the virus much faster while our home manufactured ones were being produced. And in the midst of all this bumbling, fumbling, confusion, inefficiency and grandstanding there are reports that President Trump reportedly ignored early warnings about the coronavirus and in February flew into a rage when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) WARNED him that an outbreak here in the United States was inevitable and just a matter of time.

As with all kakistocracies, name calling, blame-shifting and hiding behind avalanches of false and misleading information and memes will come back always to haunt you. In this administration, from top down, every day brings more of the same. Not because you put a positive spin on a crisis means that the situation on the ground has changed for the better. It's simply smoke and mirrors.

President Trump keeps painting a rosy picture of the coronavirus while Americans are dying and EVERY organization is facing the grim realities of the situation save the president and his enablers. They're brazenly denying reality in futile efforts to blunt the negative economic and political fallout and to take no responsibility for same. But here's one reality that no amount of tweeting, spin and obfuscation of the facts will deter the coronavirus is a reality and his own experts say that "the worst is yet to come."

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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