Governing from the Opposition

Trump is more at home in his role as the opponent, criticizing the tremendous efforts by governors.

For Donald Trump, the hardest part of this crisis is not being able to be himself. Despite trying to restrain his innate drive to belittle and clash with experts, the urge resurfaces every few days. Contrary to the serious work of his main adviser, Dr. Tony Fauci, which is based on medical and scientific evidence, we hear Trump recommending untested medicine or claiming, against all available data, that the virus has already been defeated. The president has no modus operandi in place to make decisions based on previous studies or with sufficient deliberation. He lacks a stable team of advisers with seniority and experience and, as he himself admitted, he acts by combining instinct and attention to the data. Never mind we are in a war in which the role of science is more crucial than ever. All he needs to reach a firm conclusion is a phone call with a friend, typically, a millionaire Republican businessman, or a few minutes of a Fox News debate.

As the country’s death toll reached 32,000 yesterday, only slightly more than 2 million tests have been conducted in a population of 331 million. This past week, Trump went from claiming “total” authority over states, ignoring the Constitution, to leading the opposition. He is more at home in that role of opponent, committed to criticizing and challenging the tremendous efforts by governors, some of whom have formed a coalition to help one another in the face of the leadership vacuum at the helm of the federal government and the alarming condition of their states.

Trump carries out the job of creating and wearing down adversaries from the White House pulpit through long and confusing daily briefings in a way that is so characteristic of him. To counter the criticism he is facing for failing to act from December to February, the president manufactures an alternative reality which he broadcasts at any hour of the day. His is a battle of propaganda, in an election year that has been completely altered by the many effects of the pandemic.

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