BRANDON J. WEICHERT | THE WEICHERT REPORT
President Donald J. Trump has managed to do that which he never said he’d do: he’s listening to experts. And in this case, he’s right to do so. The novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China is a pandemic-level event that has managed to kill almost 51,000 Americans since March 1. Think about that for a second: more than 50,000 Americans have died from this illness since the beginning of March (it is April 24, 2020 as of this writing). After having initially pooh-poohed the disease as a mere “hoax” and then subsequently downplaying the pandemic here in the US, Trump rightly reversed course, and took bold measures to mitigate the spread as best as we could.
We can quibble about whether it was a good enough approach or if the economic harm was worth the decision, I happen to think it was. But the truly interesting thing here is that the president listened to his critics–experts and media types alike–and many are still unhappy with him. In fact, Trump has staked his entire presidency on their word. It could prove to be his finest hour or the end of everything.
It is an interesting event to watch, to say the least.
After all, we hope and pray to have tough leaders in a crisis. While we can deride Trump for his initial reaction to the pandemic, let us also acknowledge that many people are still not convinced of its lethality. President Trump did what great leaders do: he accepted facts, however uncomfortable, and acted to address the threat.
Yet, the folks at Morning Joe insist that President Trump is essentially done as a presidential candidate. Maybe he is. Perhaps he will be the next Herbert Hoover. With a more than 20 percent unemployment rate (and climbing) and no possible way to simply “restart” the economy as the president (and his supporters) wishes to do, it’s going to be a long, tough slog back to “normal.”
In the meantime, one can expect Trump’s enemies to attack and impugn with furious resolve every aspect of his handling of the pandemic and the economic fallout from that. And we could very well have Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. Don’t laugh. COVID-19 has so rejiggered our already unstable socio-political and economic order here that quite seriously anything is possible.
Certainly, President Trump’s daily press conferences are becoming slightly deranged. Whereas I favored his decision to conduct the freewheeling, daily pressers, his most recent press conference wherein he waxed ineloquent about the possibilities of using ultraviolet light on human bodies and taking a swig of disinfectant in order to better protect against the ravages of the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China was a bit, shall we say, out there (cue the X-File theme, please). Given his most recent, bizarre performance, perhaps POTUS should take a break from them. Don’t end them completely, but simply take a break for a few days from them and let the medical staff and Vice-President Mike Pence put us all to sleep.
The Morning Joe crowd thinks that the press conferences are working against Trump going into November’s election. They believe that the pressers continually show voters how “unhinged” the president is. They cite polls indicating that most people don’t trust what the president is saying about the pandemic. Joe Scarborough himself criticized the president for being willing and able to say “almost anything” in the pressers to avoid being held accountable for previously inaccurate public predictions (such as the “hoax” comments in reference to the pandemic and the downplaying of the outbreak of the disease here in the United States).
Here is where Joe Scarborough is wrong (and where Trump might just be unlike Herbert Hoover and, possibly, more like FDR). Trump uses his microphone and twitter account to his advantage. He floods the zone daily with new posts and commentaries which have (for him) the salutary effect of making people forget any of the inaccuracies he may have given–even just a few days ago. For the media, Trump is their Frankenstein monster: he may have been born into a New York real estate family, but his apotheosis was in the gruesome New York tabloid world of the 1980s, followed on by the cutthroat reality television world of the late 1990s/early 2000s. The media made Trump in so many ways.
Thus, Trump is a man–much to Joe and Mika’s chagrin, I am sure–entirely born of the 24-hour news cycle. Like the coronavirus, Trump is a chimera for the media: he is their greatest creation, their biggest consumer, their worst enemy, and their most helpful ratings boost…all in one. Oh, and as us “deplorables” have proven, like the coronavirus, Trumpism is highly transmissible 😉
Therefore, it is not a fait accompli that President Trump is going to lose the 2020 election. He understands that a story in the 24-hour news cycle only lasts for, at most, 72 hours. While the media may hark on a particular subject, like the disappearance of the Malaysian airliner in 2014 or the COVID-19 pandemic, there will always be new injects; new angles on which the media will report (thereby giving a reprieve for their usual targets). And Trump is a constantly moving target. Sure, the Biden campaign can (and already has) create very caustic campaign ads using Trump’s own words against him. Although, Trump can (and will) do the same with Joe Biden’s…you know, the thing?
And as Joe Rogan warned audiences recently: if Trump ever debated Biden, Trump would devour the former vice-president. Totally.
Certainly, the script has flipped and the situation is fluid. If one is to believe the hype about both Trump and Biden we have a battle between two septuagenarians, one who is purportedly “crazy” (Trump) and the other who is obviously senile (Biden). Writing in The American Spectator in 2018, I told readers to expect a “Battle of the Blowhards” in 2020 between Trump and Biden. It is seeming truer and truer that we will get such a match-up. The difference is that Biden is sclerotic whereas Trump is spry. Biden can’t piece together a sentence in a scripted interview with the Karens at The View whereas Trump consumes all of the oxygen in the media environment and spews fire with it.
That Trump is listening to Drs. Fauci and Birx; that, despite his bizarre prognostications on the glories of UV light and disinfectant ingestion (the new Tide Pod-eating craze, perhaps?), the president has acted decisively to mitigate the outbreak–so much so that New York no longer needs the US Navy hospital ship that was deployed to New York Harbor–and that he has risked alienating his followers by basically nuking the economy to “flatten the curve” of the disease outbreak here, gives Trump a fighting edge he’d otherwise be lacking right now, had he listened to the “Don’t Tread On Me” crowd in his base who keep insisting that the COVID-19 pandemic is akin to the seasonal flu (it’s not). Or worse, that it’s all some Democrat/Deep State hoax (again, it’s not).
As the president (and, oddly enough, the Zen Master) might say, “We’ll see,” about how the election turns out. The one thing is clear: the old way of doing things is over. Trump broke the mold in 2016. He has rewritten the script and the rest of the country’s elites are still trying to figure things out. They’re adapting…but slowly. Rather than being the next Republican Herbert Hoover, given his understanding and generally brilliant use of the media, Trump just might be able to be FDR in this equation.
Again, we’ll see.
I’m assuming that Trump is going to lose because the odds are definitely being (and have been) stacked against him. But my above reasoning, and the fact that Trump is more of a doer and less of a talker, works in the president’s favor this November. Plus, I love a good underdog story (that was one of the primary reasons I was a signatory to the “Scholars & Writers for Trump” letter in 2016).
Stay hunkered down if you can. Wash those hands. Help your neighbors who may be suffering. Don’t listen to the conspiracy theorists. Accept reality. And remember that we are not guaranteed prosperity or peace. All we can do is strive to have strong leaders who can make the tough calls in times of crisis–right or wrong–and I think we’ve generally got that with Trump.