This, of course, is not Trump’s first self-inflicted wound. It is merely the latest in a long list of scandals and revelations, which make the case that our impeached-but-not-convicted president is undeserving of reelection but also the worst president in US history.
After Trump’s first term in the highest office, the US, in many ways, is unrecognizable. More than 189,000 have died of Covid-19 and the economy has collapsed. Much of the of the world now pities us for the poor leadership we must endure.
Trump has wounded the nation’s psyche. He denigrates those who won’t kowtow to him, including elected officials, the press and anyone who dares to challenge his actions. He does all this as he tries to claim excess power for himself. It feels to many like the US has become a nightmare. No wonder a recent Gallup poll found Americans are more politically divided than they have been in the over 80-year history of the poll.
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It is audacious, of course, to suggest that someone is categorically the worst president in history, but it is no more audacious than Trump’s own first-term claims to greatness, made with more than 20,000 untruths and deceptions documented in running fashion by the Washington Post. Trump is, remember, a man who said before the pandemic, “George Washington would have had a hard time beating me.”
The President’s most absurd claim — a main theme of his reelection campaign — is that he did everything he said he would do. His slogan, “Promises Made, Promises Kept,” is another lie. Among the promises he failed to fulfill are: building a border wall that Mexico would pick up the tab for, replacing Obamacare with something better, heavily investing in rebuilding our infrastructure, reducing the federal debt, ending trade deficits and creating vast numbers of jobs. In many cases, the good things that have happened during the Trump years depended on momentum created by his predecessors.
Trump’s bizarre practice of simply declaring success when failure surrounds him reached a new crescendo as he accepted his party’s nomination. His speech was so riddled with distortions and lies that CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale concluded he “serially lied” throughout it. Trump placed himself beside Abraham Lincoln in the American pantheon and described his challenger in ways that should be reserved for Lucifer himself.
Among the worst acceptance speech deceptions was Trump’s claim that he moved decisively to stop the pandemic. To hear Trump tell it, he is the hero in this story and the virus will soon be behind us. In fact, 3,600 people died during the four days of the convention, as colleges and universities across the country reported new outbreaks as students tried to resume on-campus studies.
Under Trump, America, a nation with just 4% of the world’s population, has suffered more than 20% of those killed in the pandemic. It is true, of course, that Trump did not begin this calamity, but by many estimates, he failed egregiously in his duty to do the best anyone could do to stop it. His has been an unforgivable, unfathomable failure of leadership, with catastrophic results.
The most galling aspect of this leadership failure is that Trump’s administration was handed a playbook for dealing with a pandemic by the Obama administration. Instead of using it as a source of guidance, however, Trump complained about his predecessor, downplayed the threat, and when asked about inadequate testing said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
As Americans died, often at a rate of more than 1,000 per day, Trump diverted attention to quack cures and unreliable speculations. He touted one treatment — hydroxychloroquine — that was soon shown to be not just ineffective but possibly dangerous, but not before the government bought 63 million doses. Standing at the White House podium, he mused about using household cleaners and sunlight to fight the virus which, I should not have to say, are not actual treatments.
Besides his snake oil salesman act, Trump has amplified dangerous voices while squelching those we should hear. A few weeks ago, he boosted a doctor who has said her colleagues use genetic material from aliens to make medicines, gave a platform to a supporter who sells pillows on TV and has touted another unproven compound as a potential Covid-19 treatment.
The economic impact of the pandemic has been perhaps as devastating as the misinformation. In the most recent quarter, the US economy shrank by an estimated 32.9%, which was the worst fall ever recorded. (Yes, a worse economic contraction than any quarter of the Great Depression). Unemployment, which is a better measure of individuals’ suffering, has also reached a record, bring with it all the anxiety that comes with the sudden loss of work and bill-paying security.
Health care professionals have noted a spike in psychological suffering and connect it to management of the pandemic. In July, one poll found that 53% of Americans have said that the coronavirus…