A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 168th Unpresidented Week As POTUS
Trump’s first major typo after winning the election was spelling Unprecedented incorrectly. He infamously tweeted “Unpresidented.” This typo is emblematic of his administration: An impulsive, frantically thrown together group of characters with virtually no oversight. After Trump was sworn in, I started writing the weekly “Unpresidented” column, analyzing every week of his presidency. This is week 168.
President Trump wants all the glory when things are going well, and none of the blame when things are going poorly. Leadership doesn’t work that way, especially when your failures are so blatantly obvious to observers of objective reality.
It has long been indisputable that President Trump’s response to COVID-19 has been a deadly failure, but it’s been made even more evident this week. Numerous reports further highlighted just how negligent the Trump Administration was in the early days of this health crisis. Trump brushed aside early warnings in January, failed to take aggressive action and ramp up testing in February, and downplayed the threat throughout. As his poll numbers are beginning to take a hit, Trump is realizing his efforts to spin this are also failing. Now, he’s turning to cast blame.
President Trump’s base thrives on whataboutism, so this week, he sought to give them another red meat grievance to deflect blame for Trump’s failed response to COVID-19. While there is merit to the arguments that China was not honest about how dangerous COVID-19 was in early January, once the threat was known, there was no excuse for Trump’s failures. After previously blaming the Obama Administration for his own testing failures and states for not stockpiling medical equipment, this week, Trump turned his fire on the World Health Organization (WHO), threatening to cut funding.
President Trump has repeatedly stated that the WHO got it wrong because they were repeating info they were given from China. Trump’s diversion of blame to the WHO is a classic Trump deflection away from his repeated and negligent failures to respond to COVID-19 early. They’re the perfect foil for his nationalist base – an organization they can pan as “globalist.” Trump said that WHO minimized the threat after months of himself downplaying the threat, saying it would disappear, and even went as far as to call fears of COVID-19 a Democratic “hoax”. As calls among Trump’s allies to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci grow, watch out for him to become the next scapegoat.
President Trump and his allies turn everyone that speaks truth into an enemy. In effect, Trump has made truth itself the opposition. His base is gaslit to disbelieve any negative news about him. They outright ignore objective reality. Wonder if that withstands this deadly pandemic.
Let’s quickly look at the bombshell findings from The New York Times report this weekend. The topline new reporting is that in January, the National Security Council (NSC) began to grasp the scale of the threat COVID-19 would pose. We learned that Trump was indeed told about White House Economic Adviser Peter Navarro’s January 29 memo warning of mass casualties and economic losses due to COVID-19. Trump now falsely denies he knew about it.
We also learned on January 30, HHS Secretary Alex Azar directly warned President Trump about COVID-19 and Trump told him he was being alarmist. This was after Azar had already attempted to warn him in mid-January. By mid-February, the NSC prepared COVID-19 response plans that included shutting down certain cities and social distancing measures that looked similar to what we’re doing now. Trump didn’t act on any of them.Looking to make a difference? Consider signing one of these sponsored petitions:
We’ve now hit over 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 20,000 deaths in the United States. While the curve is beginning to flatten in some key cities, this is far from over. That hasn’t stopped Trump and his allies from increasing the drumbeat to reopen the economy too soon. The current federal social distancing guidelines end on April 30, and members of the right-wing media and Trump’s circle have been calling for the economy to reopen in May. Every single expert analysis concludes that reopening the economy now, or even next month, would lead to a devastating surge in the death toll. This is dangerous, callous idiocy.
Speaking of callous idiocy, President Trump’s coronavirus briefings continued this week. In a previous edition of Unpresidented, I called these “ego briefings”. It appears the Wall Street Journal agrees. They published a piece from their Editorial Board condemning Trump’s briefings, stating they’re all about himself. Trump had one of his shortest appearances that day, on Thursday. Trump may have been shook by the critique, but he was back on his nonsense by Friday. Trump bragged about the stock market gains this week while more than 17 million Americans have applied for unemployment in the past four weeks, hundreds of thousands are sick, and the death toll continued to increase. It wasn’t the right tone, to say the least.
In other news, we have to talk about Wisconsin. What happened there is one of the most soulless things I have ever seen in modern election history. Conservatives blocked efforts to expand mail-in voting. They blocked the election postponement. They forced voters to the polls. They didn’t care if people die as long as a conservative justice would win so that they could implement more voter suppression efforts ahead of November. If Republicans believe Wisconsin voters will forget that their party made them risk their lives to vote, they’re fools.
President Trump piled on the bashing of mail-in voting this week. After bashing vote by mail as creating fraudulent ballots (no evidence of that), Trump got called out by a reporter at his briefing for voting by mail himself. In his response, he continued to baselessly attack mail-in voting. For the record, every claim of voter fraud Trump has made are lies.
Attorney General William Barr resurfaced this week, making an appearance on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show. Barr made some authoritarian claims. Barr said Trump has been “statesmanlike” throughout his coronavirus response and accused the media of launching a “Jihad” against hydroxychloroquine. Barr failed to mention Trump’s attacks on governors or the fact people have died taking hydroxychloroquine.
Barr also said that the Russia probe was started without basis. First off, the DOJ’s own Inspector General found the Russia probe was justified. Russia interfered in US democracy. The Mueller report has 100+ pages depicting the Trump team’s receptivity to Russia’s help. AG William Barr is a full-on “deep state” conspiracy theorist. We all saw what happened.
Barrs performance further highlights the stakes of this election. We have an authoritarian POTUS who stands against every single progressive policy, denies climate change, is suing to end the ACA, and appoints conservative judges/justices. This turns us to the other major development of this week – Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) dropped out.
Although he’s dropped out, Bernie Sanders said he will remain on the ballot to collect delegates and build leverage for his ideas at the Democratic convention. Sanders said former Vice President Joe Biden will be the nominee, called Biden a “very decent man,” and said he will work with Biden to defeat President Trump. Bernie Sanders deserves a lot of credit for what he’s accomplished. He’s built a grassroots movement and shifted the Democratic platform, making it more progressive in several key areas. He’s made the right move after seeing no path forward. Now, it’s time to focus on uniting ahead of November.
There is a lot at stake and nothing is set in stone but President Trump is currently doing a lot of damage to his re-election prospects. The one thing that has been constant his entire life, aside from his proneness to fraud and criminality, is the fact Donald Trump’s ego will always lead him to self-sabotage. That’s what he’s been doing in his briefings and throughout his COVID-19 response.
Change is hard. Change does not happen at the snap of a finger. Change has historically happened incrementally as a result of decades of advocacy and political mobilization. As Sanders drops out, let’s hope that the Democratic base is able to unite and focus on making the next incremental change towards progress: defeating Donald Trump.
Let’s dive into another Unpresidented week.
The Hydroxychloroquine Disinformation Machine
Day 1,173: Monday, April 6
Monday’s top stories:
- Rantt Media: Right-Wing Media Misrepresents Hydroxychloroquine Poll
- Axios: Inside the epic White House blowup over “game-changer” hydroxychloroquine
- Mediaite: AMA President’s Response to Trump Asking ‘What Do You Have to Lose?’ From Unproven Drug: ‘You Could Lose Your Life’
- The Washington Post: U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 10,000
- The Guardian: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after his condition worsens
- The Washington Post: The U.S. was beset by denial and dysfunction as the coronavirus raged
- CNN: Chicago mayor says 72% of city’s Covid-19 deaths are black patients
- Politico: Atkinson: Trump fired me because I handled whistleblower complaint properly
- NBC News: Acting Navy secretary rips into ousted captain who raised alarm over COVID-19 outbreak, calls him stupid
- Vox: Report: The Trump administration didn’t order ventilators or masks until mid-March
- Politico: Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns governor, orders Tuesday elections to proceed
- NPR: ‘It’s Madness.’ Wisconsin’s Election Amid Coronavirus Sparks Anger
- CNBC: Joe Biden speaks to Trump on Monday about US coronavirus response
- NBC News: Government watchdog: Hospitals say staff at risk because of gear shortages
- The Guardian: In the poorest county, in America’s poorest state, a virus hits home: ‘Hunger is rampant’
- CNN: The mystery of why the coronavirus kills some young people
- BBC News: Africa will not be test ground for coronavirus vaccine – WHO
- HuffPost: Conservative Columnist Looks At History, Concludes Trump Is Worst President Ever
Wisconsin’s Dangerous, Undemocratic Election
Day 1,174: Tuesday, April 7
Tuesday’s top stories:
- Vox: How Wisconsin’s election disenfranchised voters
- CNN: Republican Wisconsin assembly speaker wears protective gear while telling voters they are ‘incredibly safe to go out’
- NBC News: Democrats warn people will die as courts rule Wisconsin’s election on for Tuesday
- CNBC: Trump removes inspector general overseeing $2 trillion coronavirus relief package days after he was appointed
- CNN: Acting secretary of the Navy resigns after calling ousted aircraft carrier captain ‘stupid’
- Axios: Peter Navarro memos warning of mass coronavirus death circulated West Wing in January
- The Daily Beast: Trump Has ‘Financial Interest’ in Hydroxychloroquine Manufacturer: NYT
- Politico: Trump’s ‘Hail Mary’ drug push rattles his health team
- Politico: Kayleigh McEnany replaces Grisham as White House press secretary
- CNN: New White House press secretary downplayed pandemic threat and said Democrats were rooting for coronavirus
- AP: China’s virus pandemic epicenter Wuhan ends 76-day lockdown
- BBC: PM Boris Johnson spending second night in intensive care
- The Verge: Jack Dorsey to donate $1 billion to fund COVID-19 relief and other charities
- .The Washington Post: Worried that $2 trillion law wasn’t enough, Trump and congressional leaders converge on need for new coronavirus economic package
- ABC News: Crewmember on Navy hospital ship Comfort tests positive for coronavirus
- ABC News: Before the White House, Trump called NIH ‘terrible,’ questioned vaccines
- The Guardian: Cruise ship stranded off Uruguay says 60% onboard have Covid-19
- Rantt Media: Anti-Asian Racism Amid COVID-19 Echoes US History Of Blaming Immigrants For Disease
- Rantt Media: The Unemployment Rate And How To Calculate It
- CNN: Civil rights icon John Lewis endorses Joe Biden
Bernie Sanders Drops Out
Day 1,175: Wednesday, April 8
Wednesday’s top stories:
- NBC News: Sanders quits Democratic race for president; Biden is party’s apparent nominee
- FiveThirtyEight: Why Bernie Sanders Lost
- CNN: US coronavirus deaths pass 14,000, but new cases are trending down and future projections are better than expected
- Los Angeles Times: Hospitals say feds are seizing masks and other coronavirus supplies without a word
- Politico: Trump Broke the Agencies That Were Supposed To Stop the Covid-19 Epidemic
- Business Insider: Fauci says the coronavirus is ‘shining a bright light’ on ‘unacceptable’ health disparities for African Americans
- CNN: Fact check: Trump makes false claims about his coronavirus record and voter fraud, misleads about the WHO
- Lawfare: Why Is Trump’s Inspector General Purge Not a National Scandal?
- Politico: The briefings aren’t working: Trump’s approval rating takes a dip
- NBC News: U.K. reports record number of deaths
- Politico: How many coronavirus cases have been found in each U.S. state
- CNBC: WHO chief addresses death threats, racist insults: ‘I don’t give a damn’
- South China Morning Post: Wuhan on the move again as coronavirus lockdown limits ease
- The Japan Times: Tokyo confirms record 144 COVID-19 cases, one day after emergency declaration
- CNN: Passengers to be evacuated from Antarctic cruise ship after almost 60% test positive for coronavirus
- Reuters: Most Americans, unlike Trump, want mail-in ballots for November if coronavirus threatens: Reuters/Ipsos poll
- CNN Poll: Majority of Americans now say the federal government has done a poor job of preventing coronavirus spread
- Rolling Stone: John Prine, One of America’s Greatest Songwriters, Dead at 73
6.6 Million More Unemployment Claims
Day 1,176: Thursday, April 9
Thursday’s top stories:
- NBC News: Unemployment claims surge by 6.6 million as coronavirus continues to rout U.S. workforce
- CNBC: Federal Reserve unveils details of $2.3 trillion in programs to help support the economy
- Los Angeles Times: ‘A silent explosion’: Coronavirus deaths in U.S. climb past 16,000
- CNN: How the government delayed coronavirus testing
- NPR: Federal Support Ends For Coronavirus Testing Sites As Pandemic Peak Nears
- CNN: Prestigious scientific panel tells White House coronavirus won’t go away with warmer weather
- The New York Times: Most New York Coronavirus Cases Came From Europe, Genomes Show
- The Guardian: ‘A disastrous situation’: mountains of food wasted as coronavirus scrambles supply chain
- The Washington Post: Barr calls current restrictions ‘draconian,’ and suggests they should be revisited next month
- BBC: PM out of intensive care but remains in hospital
- ProPublica: Trump Removed the Head of the Coronavirus Bailout Oversight Board. Its Members Could Be Next.
- Bloomberg: MGM Told to Hand Over Trump’s ‘Apprentice’ Tapes in Scam Suit
- CNN: White House reverses position after blocking health officials from appearing on CNN
- NBC News: White House working on plan to cut aid to WHO
- HuffPost: WHO Chief Says Politicizing Coronavirus Will Only Lead To ‘More Body Bags’
- Business Insider: Essential workers like nurses and grocery-store employees would get a $25,000 raise for working through the pandemic under a new plan from Senate Democrats
- NBC News: Saudi officials announce Yemen cease-fire amid pandemic
- CNBC: OPEC and allies to decide on historic oil production cut as coronavirus ravages demand
- The Daily Beast: Bill O’Reilly: Those Dying From Coronavirus ‘Were on Their Last Legs Anyway’
Another Deadly Milestone
Day 1,177: Friday, April 10
Friday’s top stories:
- NBC News: Coronavirus live updates: Global death toll passes 100K as confirmed cases top 1.6 million
- Reuters: New U.S. projections show summer spike if coronavirus restrictions lifted: NYT
- NBC News: Thousands have died in nursing homes around the U.S. But the federal gov’t isn’t tracking them.
- CNN: US nears peak death rate with New York confirming more coronavirus cases than any country
- ABC News: White House braces for congressional probes of coronavirus response
- Bloomberg: Medical Supplies Free-for-All Has States Lashing Out at FEMA
- Politico: Pelosi warns Trump not to reopen country too soon
- Politico: Barr backs Trump on firing of intel IG, calls Russia investigation baseless
- CNN: A boy from a remote Amazonian tribe has died, raising concerns about Covid-19’s impact on indigenous people
- CNN: US Postal Service warns Congress it could become insolvent amid coronavirus
- Vox: Coronavirus economy plans are clear: No return to normal in 2020
- Politico: Treasury expected to get started on stimulus payments Friday
- CNBC: The IRS has a new website where you can get your stimulus relief check if you’re not required to file taxes
- Business Insider: Apple and Google are teaming up to create a way for your smartphone to alert you if you’ve come into contact with someone infected with the coronavirus
- Vanity Fair: Report: Even Trump’s Allies Are Fed Up with His Press Briefings
- CNN: Florida governor falsely claims the coronavirus hasn’t killed anyone under 25
- The Root: Surgeon General Jerome Adams Tells Black People to Lay Off Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drugs to Prevent COVID-19 Deaths: ‘Do It for Your Big Mama’
- AP: Scientists warn of Spain’s ‘premature’ exit from lockdown
- Reuters: South Korea reports recovered coronavirus patients testing positive again
- Gizmodo: South Korea’s Coronavirus Epicenter Reports No New Cases For First Time Since February
- CNN: China is on a knife edge between recovery and another wave of coronavirus cases
BONUS FROM THE WEEKEND
The New York Times: He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus
Looks For Jobs