If American history is a guide, unprepared presidents lacking in basic political understanding and skills always end up making a mess in the country. That's because the United States government is a huge, unwieldy and complicated bureaucracy that new presidents "have to learn" on the job. Prior political experience is a plus since this political system riddled with petty rivalries, cronyism, lackeyism, partisan politics and is all about horse-trading, compromise, and understanding exactly how friends and foes behave, their alliances and politics. It's never ever "my way or the highway" nor is the presidency a coronation where power is absolute. Moreover, one cannot run the American government as a real estate company where, as CEO, you have "absolute power" to fire and hire at will. In a word, its far more complicated.
In this present American political situation, President Donald Trump, perhaps the most unprepared American president in United States history, lacking in even the most basic and rudimentary political skills, is the living example of how and why some modern American presidents fail when they cannot master or even comprehend the government that they inherited. Some presidents do learn. But not Donald Trump. His monumental ego and narcissism do not allow him to consider the fact that he does not "know everything." This was true before Trump but the sheer level of this government's incompetence is exposed and aggravated by non-stop media coverage that leads the populace to focus on the president's communication skills or lack thereof, and where said incompetence has created the conditions to value spin more than expertise and science.
Donald Trump is not the first president to embrace spin and memes over facts and science. But he's the first one to have so completely embrace this more than others. Still, in this era of fake news, acute partisan politics, and the elevation of conspiracy theories as fact, the failures of any American president boil down to the realities on the ground. And the fact that nowadays U.S. presidents are consumed by poll numbers and how well some meme is doing in its echo chambers and resonating with "the base" makes them susceptible to the machinations of activists on the right and left, party hacks, talk radio and television pundits, and in an environment where the lines are blurred between news and entertainment.
Perhaps the thing that now causes politics to take on such a theatrical aura is that both presidents and politicians embrace the fallacy that their language and behavior on the campaign trail simply has to be tweaked and tinkered with while in office to pass as sane and objective policy. The end result is a slew of vapid, superfluous media-driven and stage managed, prime time "townhalls, more campaign-style rallies, petty name calling, and carefully packaged political "red meat" speeches, partisan tweets, and more television advertising for these sycophantic news outlets.
The American public tolerates these politicking antics from their presidents just as long as unemployment remains low, and crises are far away. President Trump's many political antics were seen as well, "Trump being Trump," so long as America's real social, economic, and political problems were manageable. So, when things like the COVID-19 pandemic hit home really hard Americans looked for both leadership and solutions from their government. That leadership was not forthcoming. And the usual "blame the other side," spin, distractions and snake oil salesmanism just did not work. Americans weren't buying it. For most Americans, the POTUS is the government. Today, President Trump and the Republican Party are fast becoming the targets of growing public anger as their poor and incompetent handling of the pandemic is exposed on every news media - 24/7, nonstop.
The American people - no matter their political persuasions or alignments - now know that despite timely alerts and alarms sounded by senior public health experts, plus warnings from top White House advisors, the president ignored these warnings, downplayed the looming threat posed by COVID-19 - over and over again- the early months of 2020. For example, on January 30, the president called his health and human service secretary's warning of a coming pandemic "alarmist." He went on to proclaim the novel coronavirus a "hoax" and to childishly claim it would "go away" with the arrival of warm weather. The fact is that the Twitter-tantruming president wouldn't listen to medical and public health science. He created his own reality divorced, unmoored, and untethered from reality.
In this Trumpian reality, there was and is no room for science because his narcissistic ego tells him that he knows better than any scientist or medical professional. What better example to demonstrate the president's rejection of science than his promotion and allegedly taking of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, as a magical cure for COVID-19? All of this flying in the face of dire health warnings by both medical experts and his own federal health organizations - including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - about the harmful effects of the drug and the fact that it has proven by exhaustive studies not to help COVID-19 victims. That and the president's crazy, hilarious suggestion, as medical experts and scientists looked on, that COVID-19 victims might get relief by injecting disinfectant.
The war on science has continued unabated as the United States has seen, as a result of the confusing and mixed messaging, and a lack of a coherent, organized and planned response to the pandemic from the White House and the federal government, two dangerous trends. The first is a vocal, violent and confrontational group of Americans blatantly rejecting - in the face of 100,000 dead Americans - the science and the facts, declaring it a hoax (the president's word) and equating quarantine efforts as "communism" and local governments "trampling on their freedom" (Remember President Trump called for "freeing" some states). Second, is that this rejection of science starting at the White House can, again if history is our guide, cause a more devastating, sustained and deadly "second wave" of the COVID-19 pandemic with deadly outcomes. Today, the facts are in: Tens of thousands of Americans have needlessly lost their lives thanks to the POTUS's dithering and unforgivable narcissism.