History’s verdict on Trump will be devastating
By Michael D’Antonio
Updated 2214 GMT (0614 HKT) March 30, 2020
Editor’s Note: Michael D’Antonio is the author of the book “Never Enough: Donald Trumpand the Pursuit of Success” and co-author with Peter Eisner of “TheShadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence.” The opinions expressed inthis commentary are those of the author. View more opinion articles on CNN.
(CNN) – In a crisis, all is revealed. After a lifetime devoted to avoiding responsibility and accountability — forhis lies, his deceptions, his hype, and his cruelty — President Donald Trump has met his match in the pandemic of 2020. His bluff and bluster are powerless as thousands of Americans die and the blame falls, in part, on his failure to heed the warnings and execute a robust national response. This occurred even though a pandemic playbook had been left behind by the Obama administration. Early in the crisis, Trump said “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming from China. It’s going to be just fine.” Weeks were wasted and now the price of this fiasco will likely be a loss of life far greater than 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina.
On one level, Trump’s failure can be traced to his original lie: the false image he sold to the American people in order to hide his short comings. Never a competent manager of complex organizations — witness his many bankruptcies –Trump rose to fame pitching the illusion that he was a great businessman. As he sought the presidency he used counter attacks, lies, and skillful denials to avoid answering for his record and gain the White House.
As someone who has studied Trump for years, I thought it was inevitable that he would eventually reach a moment of reckoning as president. I couldn’t have imagined that it would come with the catastrophic consequences now facing the nation as Covid-19 overwhelms health care systems and brings the economy to a standstill. Trump’s profound personal shortcomings — deficiencies of his heart and mind –helped bring us to this moment.
The first of Trump’s weaknesses? His lack of emotional intelligence and empathy, which causes him to struggle to relate to human suffering. The developer who made tenants miserable so they would move out allowing him to build luxury condos, became the president who downplayed hurricane deaths in Puerto Rico, and now barely speaks of those stricken and killed by the coronavirus. Instead, he obsesses over TV ratings and the economy as if his image in the media and the ups and downs of Wall Street indices matter more than life itself.
The second of Trump’s deficiencies is a habit of mind that discounts expertise and elevates convenient opinions supportedby cherry-picked sources of misinformation. Businessman Trump exhibited this willful ignorance when, for example, he said the scientific connection between asbestos exposureand disease was a matter of a conspiracy carried out by mobsters. Candidate Trump discounted the expertise of experts leading the war onterror. And President Trump has claimed to have extensive knowledge on a vast array of topics from forest management to drones.
Trump’s arrogance as a businessman and a candidate was obnoxious but not terribly dangerous. In a president, it puts America’s fate into the hands of a man who was incapable of learning even from his own aides. Faced with an enemy that is literally killing people he stayed true to form as he pushed an unproven coronavirus treatment that’s still under scientific review. “What do we have to lose?” Trump asked musing that people could just get prescriptions for the drug. But without clear messaging there’s plenty to lose. A man died and his wife was under critical care after the two tried to self-medicate for the novel coronaviruswith chloroquine phosphate — an additive used to clean fish tanks. The wife said she heard people on TV talking about the drug chloroquine.
Ignorantas he can seem, the President seems to sense that this moment wille stablish his reputation in perpetuity. He said as much last week when he observed that, “the history books will never forget” America’s response to the coronavirus. What he did not mention, however, is that his response to the pandemic will be examined in minute detail — it is this prospect, the prospect of accountability, that looms over him now.
Until this crisis, Trump had avoided accountability with remarkable consistency. Born into astounding wealth, he avoided accountability by persuading creditors that he was too big to fail even after he ran businesses into the ground. In politics, he deflected accountability by blaming others, especially the press and Democrats, for problems that occurred on his watch. Recently, when asked about the dreadful federal failures on coronavirus testing, he said, bluntly, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
Historian swill eventually write books detailing what journalists already know about the Trump administration’s dereliction of duty when the pandemichit. America’s Covid-19 death toll now passes 2,800 and the caseload exceeds 157,200 cases, But through much of the time that the number of cases was growing, the White House offered no coherent national response to the crisis. There have been sparse moments when Trump has sounded like a leader capable of handling this crisis — like during his briefing on Sunday, in which he announced that he was extending social distancing guidelines through the end of April. But these moments don’t last long before Trump back to pitting states against each other and attacking journalists who ask legitimate questions about his response to the pandemic.
No federal agency is rallying healthcare workers to move to hot spots where they are needed. Instead of assertively coordinating and distributing vital equipment, the administration is letting states, hospitals, and federal agencies compete against each other. Trump even went so far as to accuse medical workers of hoarding supplies.
Recently Trump introduced a bit of personal petulance to this dynamic, suggesting that governors who aren’t sufficiently deferential should be ignored by the White House. (He leavened this remark by noting that Vice President Mike Pence is not following his lead.) Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whom Trump singled out for criticism, reported that orders made for equipment had been canceled as suppliers favored the feds over herstate.
The president’s complaints about not being appreciated remind us that he takes everything personally and that his personal qualities of heartlessness and intellectual dishonesty will hobble his response to our suffering. Acutely attuned to his own feelings, he’s so numb to the pain of others that he avoids talking about it. If he has shed a tear or allowed hisvoice to tremble with grief during this pandemic I have not observed him do it. Likewise, he remains devoted to discounting reliable scientific information that shows things getting worse in favor of happy talk. With health care workers reusing disposable masks and using trash bags asprotective gowns, Trump considered the federal effort to supply hospitals and announced, “It’s hard not to be happy with the job we’re doing.”
Meanwhile, governors across the country are demonstrating what competence, empathy, and intelligence look like. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for one, has used his televised briefings to offer accurate information and authentic human concern. He doesn’t ignore the pain and grief but rather acknowledges it and shares his own. Everything about Cuomo’s briefings, right down to the concise slides flashed to accompany hiswords, reeks of competence. Where Trump repeats buzzwords and tries to sell himself as all-powerful, Cuomo demonstrates that he understands the pandemic and can communicate the facts.
At the epicenter of the nation’s and the world’s pandemic, Cuomo has been reminding us that the worst of the crisis is just beginning. The same is true for history’s assessment of President Trump. The coronavirus is immune to his manipulation and spin. It is the defining challenge of his presidency and of his life. Compared with other presidential crises, like the 9/11 attacks or Hurricane Katrina, it has occurred slowly, with ample warning, giving the president many opportunities to act and, we see now, fail.
The accounting will continue. And like the pandemic, it will be devastating.Michael D’Antonio. History’s verdict on Trump will be devastating [EB/OL]. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/30/opinions/history-verdict-on-trump-devastating-dantonio/index.html. CNN. 2020-3-30.
更新时间：2214 GMT（0614 HKT）2020 年 3 月 30 日
编者按：迈克尔·德安东尼奥是《永远不够：唐纳德·特朗普与追求成功》一书的作者，与彼得·艾斯纳合著《阴影总统：迈克·彭斯的真相》一书。他在评论中表达的观点是作者的观点。在 CNN 上查看更多评论文章。
美国有线电视新闻网－在危机中，一切都暴露了。唐纳德特朗普总统一生致力于逃避责任和责任——他的谎言、他的欺骗、他的炒作和他的残忍——在 2020 年的大流行病中遇到了他的对手。他的虚张声势和狂妄自大是无力的，因为成千上万的美国人死了，在一定程度上是罪魁祸首，他没有注意到这些警告，也没有做出强有力的全国性回应。尽管奥巴马政府留下了一本大流行剧本，但这种情况还是发生了。在危机初期，特朗普说 “我们完全控制住了局势。这是一个来自中国的人，一切都会好起来的。” 几个星期过去了，现在这场惨败的代价很可能是比 911 或卡特里娜飓风更大的生命损失。
作为一个研究特朗普多年的人，我认为他最终会成为总统是不可避免的。我无法想象，随着 Covid-19 压倒了医疗保健系统，使经济陷入停滞，它会带来国家现在面临的灾难性后果。特朗普深刻的个人缺点——心灵和思想上的缺陷——帮助我们走到了这一步。
特朗普作为一个商人和赞助者的傲慢令人讨厌，但并不十分危险。在总统任期内，美国的命运掌握在一个连自己的助手都无法挣钱的人手中。面对一个真正的敌人，他在推动一项尚在科学研究中的未经证实的冠状病毒治疗时，始终保持着对人类的忠诚。” 我们必须失去什么？” 特朗普要求深思熟虑，人们可以只得到药物的处方。但如果没有清晰的信息，就会损失很多。两人试图用磷酸氯喹（一种用于清洁鱼缸的添加剂）自我治疗这种新型冠状病毒后，一名男子死亡，他的妻子受到了紧急护理。妻子说她在电视上听到人们谈论氯喹。
总统似乎觉得这一刻将永远树立他的声誉，尽管他看起来很无知。上周，当他观察到 “历史书永远不会忘记” 美国对哥伦比亚病毒的反应时，他说了同样多的话。然而，他没有提到的是，他对流感的反应将被详细审查——这一前景，责任感的前景，现在笼罩着他。
历史学家们最终会写一本书，详细描述当这场大灾难发生时，记者们已经知道的特朗普政府失职的情况。美国的 Covid-19 死亡人数现在已经超过 2800 人，案件数量超过 157200 起，但在案件数量增长的那段时间里，白宫没有对这场危机作出一致的国家回应。有很多时候，特朗普听起来像是一个有能力处理这场危机的领导人——比如在周日的简报会上，他宣布将社会距离准则延长到 4 月底。但这些时刻并没有持续很久，特朗普就开始让各州相互对抗，并攻击记者，这些记者对特朗普应对疫情的反应提出了质疑。
最近特朗普对这一动态提出了一些个人的不满，暗示那些不够恭敬的州长应该被白宫忽视。（他在评论中指出，副总统彭斯（Mike Pence）并没有追随他的脚步）密歇根州州长怀特默（Gretchen Whitmer）报告说，由于供应商青睐联邦政府而非赫斯泰特（herstate），他被特朗普挑出来批评，并称已取消了对设备的订购。
在美国和世界流行病的中心，库莫一直提醒我们，最严重的危机才刚刚开始。历史对特朗普总统的评价也是如此。冠状病毒对他的操纵和旋转免疫。这是他总统任期和生命中的决定性挑战。与其他总统危机相比，如 9/11 袭击或卡特里娜飓风，它发生得很慢，有充分的警告，给总统很多机会采取行动，我们现在看到，失败了。