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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/23/20

Trump, Testing, and His Magical Thinking

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"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)


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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President . . . is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else."

Theodore Roosevelt, Editorial in The Kansas City Star May 7, 1918


"Experts on Reopening the Economy: Testing is the Key," (Newsday, front page headline, April 21, 2020). Yet since COVID-19 first appeared on Donald Trump's personal radar sometime in January 2020 he has been against testing and the numbers it produces and would/could produce. He has done everything he possibly could to prevent the development and implementation of a national program for testing and contact investigation for this highly infectious virus. He has consistently downplayed the reports of numbers and numbers of potential spread. He has consistently attempted to use the numbers that are available to shift the focus on and the blame for the current dreadful situation, dreadful both in terms of the disease and what the outbreak has done to the nation's economy, away from himself and onto anything or anyone else he and his governmental and media and ruling class supporters/facilitators can think of.

This column attempts to explain how the kind of thought processes and the ways of functioning that is has produced --- ones that have governed the way Trump has operated for his whole life --- have gotten him and the nation for which he is the Chief Executive Officer (I will not say "leads," because he doesn't) to where we are today.

I recently published a column entitled: "Donald Trump, his Magical Thinking, and the Trumpidemic2020┬ę." (A version of it will be re-published in this space in the next week or two.) In it, I postulated that since childhood Donald Trump has led a charmed life (duh!).As is well known: he is not very smart, except for street-smart; he is not at all inquisitive; he has never taken responsibility for anything he has done that might have harmed others (personal, political, financial, or in his business). Then I further postulated that he has achieved this through the use over time of what I call his "Box of Magic Tricks."

There are six personal and procedural factors/elements/components of it which have, over the course of his life, created this charmed life for him, at the end of it enabling him to gain a position for which he is uniquely unqualified. With his magic box he has been able to say to himself, over-and-over again, "this is going to work for me, I can make this work for me," regardless of what the objective reality is, regardless of how very few, if any other folk, could make it work in the same circumstances. And the Magic Tricks have worked for him, over and over again. They of course are not really magical, for as no better authorities Penn & Teller will tell you, there is no such thing. But that is, in the real world, what magical thinking is.

And so, as noted above, in Trump-world, there is magic, because he has been able to get out of one failure after another, personal, financial, and business, for the whole of his life, since childhood, and move ever further onwards, as if each of his failures had been a victory. And indeed, given what he has accomplished over the course of his lifetime, they were.

And so what are these "magic tricks" (discussed in some detail in the previously referenced column):

1. He has always had one or more protectors and enablers, either personal, or financial or both.

2. For decades he has had a standard operating procedure when he faces an adversary of any kind. He learned it from Roy Cohn (who learned it from Joseph McCarthy): "Always attack; Never defend." (Just watch him deal with "Die Luegen Presse" in his daily campaign speeches.)

3. Also learned from Roy Cohn is the mantra: "when you run into a problem, just sue." You may not win, and it may cost you some money. But a) you might win and b) with the endlessness with which civil litigation can be drawn out in the U.S. legal system, that other side may just get worn out.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a "Trusted Author," he is a Senior Editor, (more...)
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