“Trump’s Last Year in Office: Two Impeachments and 400,000 Funerals ” © Tom Ersin 2022. This is the current installment from the serialized publication of this distinctive historical book.

THIS WEEK’S HEADLINES (skip to article)

  • “PANDEMIC: Trump Touts Reopening U.S. May 1, if Not Sooner, No Mass Testing Needed” (4/9/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: Only 0.7% of U.S. Population Has Been Tested” (4/9/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: WH Ends Support of Funding for State/Local Testing Facilities” (4/9/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: WH Reverses State/Local Testing Support Funding After Backlash” (4/10/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: Nursing Homes Not Being Tracked by Feds for Infections, Deaths” (4/10/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: Trump: “Staying at home leads to death, too’” (4/10/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: Trump: Metrics for When to Reopen Country Are in His Head” (4/10/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: WH Leaks Say Trump Leaving Response to Govs. For Political Expediency” (4/10/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: Widespread Experts Call for ‘test-trace-quarantine’ Policy; Trump Ignoring” (4/10/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: States Task-Forcing on Own to Handle Pandemic in Fed. Leadership Vacuum” (4/10/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: Trump Claims all Credit, Plays Favorites w/ Resources, Shifts Failure Blame” (4/10/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: NYT Details Trump’s Incompetent, Deaf-to-Warnings Pandemic Response” (4/11/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: Dr. Fauci Admits on Sunday News Show: Earlier Action by Admin. Would’ve Saved Many More Lives; Trump Furious, Retweets Call for Fauci’s Firing” (4/12/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: U.S. #1, Surpasses Italy in Total Deaths” (4/13/2020)
  • “Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Endorses Joe Biden (D-DE) for President, Hoping to Bring Supporters” (4/13/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: Trump Claims ‘total authority’ Over States to Reopen Economy” (4/13/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: Feds Intercepting, Stealing PPE Orders, Though Saying States on Their Own” (4/13/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: After Damning NYT Article About His Incompetent Pandemic Response, Trump Uses Daily Briefing to Play Campaign-Style Video, Falsely Refuting Documented NYT Assertions” (4/13/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: State Governments School Trump That He Has No ‘total authority’ Over Them” (4/14/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: Trump Cuts WHO Funding in Blatant Attempt to Project Blame for Own Faults” (4/14/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: SD Develops Huge Virus Hotspot; GOP Gov. Refuses Stay-at-Home Order” (4/14/2020)
  • “Fmr. President Barack Obama Endorses Democratic Candidate Joe Biden for President” (4/14/2020)
  • “ECONOMY: Trump Orders His Name on Stimulus Checks; Unprecedented Partisan Move” (4/14/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: NJ Has 2-Wk. Testing Backlog; NY Can’t Afford Tests if Only Mild Symptoms” (4/14/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: U.S. Meets 0 of 6 WHO Guidelines for Reopening Economy; Trump Pushes On” (4/14/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: VA Cases Exploding; Rationing PPE, Some Staff Get None; VA Says All Is Well” (4/14/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: Trump Says Testing Is Sole Responsibility of States” (4/14/2020)
  • “ECONOMY: Trump’s ‘Economic Revival’ CEOs Tell Him: 1) Drastic Need for More Testing Before Reopening; 2) May 1 Is Way Too Soon; 3) WH Plan to Reopen Is ‘haphazard’” (4/15/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: U.S. per Capita Testing Rate at Dismal 0.9%” (4/15/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: Dr. Fauci of Coronavirus Task Force Laments Wasted Time at WH Briefings” (4/15/2020)
  • “Trump Threatens Never-Before Adjournment of Congress, for Recess Appointments, Especially VOA Head Who’s Been too Fair to China; President Slammed for Partisan Fight During Pandemic” (4/15/2020)
  • “ECONOMY: 20%+ Unemployment Rate; 22M File for Unemployment Ins. in Past 4 Weeks” (4/16/2020)
  • “PANDEMIC: U.S./World: 639,664/2,076,015 Cases; 30,985/138,008 Deaths; 7:45 a.m. EST” (4/16/2020)


COVID-19 Deaths

2/06/2020 — U.S.: 1   |   World: 2,976
3/05/2020 — U.S.: 12   |   World: 3,293
4/02/2020 — U.S.: 5,137   |   World: 48,284
4/16/2020 — U.S.: 30,985   |   World: 138,008

(COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University; approximately 8 a.m. each day)

Metrics Are in His Head

[REPORTER:] “Can you say, sir, what metrics you will use to make that decision [to reopen the economy]?”

[PRESIDENT TRUMP:] “The metrics are right here (points at head). That’s my metrics. That’s all I can do.”

(press briefing; White House; 4/10/2020.)

In response to the dreadful lack of U.S. coronavirus testing, the president said this:

“There’s not a lot of issues with testing. … We’re leading the world now in testing, by far.”

(Trump, Donald, R-Fla., U.S. president; press briefing; White House; 4/10/2020.)

But he’s wrong. Or for the more cynical among you: He’s lying.

“During Wednesday’s briefing, Vice President Pence said more than 1.2 million tests have been performed on Americans. Given the population of the U.S. (about 327 million), that’s roughly 1 in every 273 people [0.3%], as of April 2.”

(Sprunt, Barbara & Montanaro, Domenico; “FACT CHECK: Trump Claims U.S. Testing for Coronavirus Most per Capita — It’s Not”; NPR.org; 4/2/2020.)

The U.S. per capita testing rate is dangerously, embarrassingly low.

Unfortunately we know all too well about the metrics in President Trump’s head.

“Empty Chair”

A White House-designated “thought leader” on Donald’s own Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups — a panel of experts and CEOs the administration has assembled this week to determine how and when to reopen the U.S. economy — said this:

“Larry Lindsey, a former economic adviser to President George W. Bush … was invited by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to give an overview of the U.S.-China trade war. Lindsey also [brought] research on Trump’s character, telling Republican lawmakers that he had asked two psychologists to evaluate the president from afar. The professionals found that Trump was a ‘10 out of 10 narcissist.’ … ‘That’s what he scored.’ Lindsey said … Trump’s behavior [was] a symptom of his upbringing and a mother who didn’t pay enough attention to him. … Lindsey also compared Trump’s long-term planning ability to that of an ‘empty chair.’”

(Itkowitz, Colby & DeBonis, Mike; “Former Bush Official Puts Trump on the Couch: A ‘10 out of 10 Narcissist’”; The Washington Post; 5/15/2019.)

OK, former George W. Bush adviser Larry Lindsey saying Trump has mommy issues might have been inaccurate. Clearly we know it’s the daddy issues that are much more consequential to Donald’s pathology.

“10 out of 10 narcissist”? Old news.

Calling the president an “empty chair” in characterizing his long-term planning ability, however, is just wrong. Empty chair implies no planning, no action. But we would be so much better off if Donald simply did nothing while in office. To the contrary, he’s done tremendous damage through most of his actions. And his long-term planning has been spot on (as the kids like to say): He continues to enrich himself corruptly, and he’s stayed out of prison despite numerous felonies.

Total Authority 

“When somebody’s president of the United States, the authority is total.”

(Trump, Donald, R-Fla., U.S. president; press briefing; White House; 4/13/2020.)

President Trump said this as he was (mistakenly) articulating his complete control over when governors will reopen — or not — their states’ economies. Even Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in response, “The federal government does not have absolute power.” Even the conservative National Review and Fox News’ Brit Hume called this statement “reckless.” Even David Crosby says Donald has let himself go (— apologies to Triumph the Insult Comedy Dog, aka Robert Smigel). (And apologies to Mr. Crosby whom I understand has reaped the benefits of positive lifestyle changes since the time of the original Triumph quote dissing Rob Reiner at a Friar’s Club roast.)

WHO’s on First (I couldn’t resist)

“President Trump announced Tuesday that he will suspend payments to the World Health Organization in response to the United Nations agency’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as the organization is in the midst of combating a global outbreak that has killed thousands and crippled world economies. Trump’s announcement was expected, as he seeks to deflect blame for his early dismissal of the virus as a threat to Americans and the U.S. economy. … ‘We have not been treated properly,’ Trump said.”

(Gearan, Anne; “Trump Announces Cutoff of New Funding for the World Health Organization Over Pandemic Response”; The Washington Post; 4/14/2020.)

“Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19, and if that work is stopped, no other organization can replace them. The world needs WHO now more than ever.”

(Gates, Bill, Microsoft co-founder, world health advocate, second-largest WHO donor [through his and Melinda’s foundation] after U.S.; Twitter post; 4/15/2020.)

Don’t just take Bill’s word for it. U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, the American Medical Association, and Brett D. Schaefer, conservative Heritage Foundation expert and member of the U.N.’s Committee on Contributions, all have deeply criticized the move as wrong, dangerous, and galactically damaging to pandemic health care efforts in underdeveloped and developed countries.

Several prominent virologists and medical pundits called it “insanity” to cut WHO funding during a pandemic.

Keep the Criticism Up

The criticism of President Trump’s pandemic response is not to bash him and hurt his reelection chances (well, maybe a little). The primary purpose for keeping up the criticism is because it’s the only reason he’s taken any of the minuscule right action he has taken. Look no further than the administration’s cockamamie move Friday to stop auxiliary funding for state and local coronavirus testing sites.

Virtually every independent medical expert on the planet avers that testing, testing, testing (to be able to trace and quarantine) is the only way out of this crisis, to achieve the goal Donald, himself, wants: the reopening of world economies. The U.S. is dangerously, embarrassingly near the bottom of per capita testing among developed nations. But the White House decided to cut funding support for the relatively few state and local testing sites in operation.

Until they reversed that cockamamie move after ferocious public backlash.

Why would the White House make such a stupid, callous decision in the first place? Many speculate. We might never know why. But it might be Oscar’s razor — you know: The simplest explanation is usually the right one. Maybe the administration is simply that stupid. Maybe Oscar always sports a nice, clean shave because he’s got a good razor.

What we do know is that legitimate, blistering criticism is the only thing that got Donald to change his mind, to correct his colossal blunder.

“In Unprecedented Move, Treasury Orders Trump’s Name Printed on Stimulus Checks” (The Washington Post headline, April 15, 2020)

President Trump initially wanted his lie-detector-graph of an over-sexed-Sharpie signature on each government Economic Impact Payment check. But the law says a president is not authorized to sign Treasury payments. So he settled for having his name printed on the memo line, the spot where Aunt Evelyn writes “Congratulations!” on your high school graduation gift check.

Connecting in the language of the common woman and man, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin assured struggling out-of-work Americans that their “bridge liquidity” remittance of $1,200 per adult will be disbursed as planned and that it’s intended to hold them over for 10 weeks.

This transparent presidential promotion thing never has been done before in the history of IRS refunds or government stimulus/reimbursement checks. The president believes he can fool people into thinking the money comes from, or because of, him. And he gets the free advertising benefit for his reelection campaign. It likely will delay checks at least several days for desperate citizens who need them.

This is all you need to know about Donald J. Trump.■

[Tom Ersin has been a full-time professional writer and editor since 2010 and holds degrees in communications and counseling. He’s a long-time political observer and has written a half-dozen nonfiction books on 21st century U.S. politics.] Click here to purchase book. Please leave a rating.