A tipping point for the dotard?

datePosted on 12:04, March 16th, 2020 by Pablo

I guess that we should see the silver lining in the CV-19 pandemic. It has finally done what no political opponent could do. It has fundamentally undermined Trump’s credibility and that of the science-denying elements within the GOP and rightwing media. The important aspect of this is that the loss of credibility is evident in a private sector that otherwise was willing to cast a blind eye on the Trump/GOP corruption and buffoonery so long as the latter advanced business interests via deregulation, tax cuts etc.

Now that Trump’s incompetence has been fully exposed, as has that of his immediate advisors and sycophants in and around the White House, private businesses, state and local governments are taking action in defiance of his original bluster and denials. Led by their owners, elected officials and high level managers, entire sports have cancelled or postponed seasons, universities and school districts have closed, cities and states have ordered mandatory quarantines and numerous mass events have been abandoned. Even the military has acted against his original commands, instead opting to listen to military doctors and other experts about the effects of CV-19 on troop concentrations (such as cancelling military exercises and forbidding all domestic travel for service personnel). This, in response to what Trump initially called a politically inspired hoax and to which the GOP/media science deniers decried as the product of partisan hysteria and media manipulation. The fact that private businesses have led the defiant response is especially telling. No lefties among them.

The ineptitude and incompetence of the Trump administration is not only shown in its delayed response and original denials and deflections. The order to institute a ban on all travellers from Europe–done by the same people who crafted the Muslim ban attempted shortly after Trump was inaugurated–was done without forewarning to airlines, airport authorities and local law enforcement, much less the traveling public, American as well as foreign. No contingency plan was crafted, much less enacted, leaving federal border control agencies such as Customs, Immigration, Border Patrol and TSA short-staffed and undermanned in the face of a surge of last minute mass arrivals before the ban commencement date. Additional CV-19 health screenings deployed at the same time has resulted in chaos at airports of entry, with thousands of passengers stuck for hours in baggage returns and lined outside passport control stations (again, manned by federal employees). The result has been a clusterf**k of epic proportions.

Although he has been tested and cleared after being exposed to the virus, Trump may still fall ill because the test only measures one’s status on the test date. If that happens, he becomes a candidate for Article 25 removal from office since he is physically unable to perform the functions of president (which was the original intent of the framers. I shall leave aside jokes about his mental competence but let’s just say that his addled blathering about the pandemic does not inspire confidence). I have a feeling that if he gets sick, those in the GOP who secretly loathe him will have their knives out, because his gross negligence and inaction in handling the response will have election consequences for the party as a whole later this year. Seriously, if the predicted thousands of deaths and job losses and billions in productivity losses resultant from the botched initial response and the chaotic catch-ups since then actually happen, given the now open news that the Trump administration eliminated key public health agencies and replaced public servant scientists with lackeys, then the makings of an election disaster are looming large over the GOP’s political future.

Until now, the GOP’s 2020 election strategy was to ride Trump’s coattails as hard as possible. In the wake of CV-19 that seems politically suicidal. And if GOP politicians start to distance themselves from Trump in their campaigns, the possibility of intra-GOP fratricide becomes more likely. In fact, it is likely that factions are sharpening their knives as I write, with the pro-Trump crowd developing plans to delay the elections or smear anti-Trump politicians as traitorous during a national emergency. For their part, the anti-Trump faction will attempt to convince the public that they did all that they could to prevent him from doing more harm to the Union. That will be a tough sell, but so to will be any argument in support of Trump’s handling of the crisis.

The real trouble for the GOP starts if the pandemic lasts in the US for months, well into the post-convention campaign season (which starts in July). If the death and sick toll mounts to anything close to what is being predicted and job losses increase while businesses shut down, then perhaps even hardened MAGA morons will re-consider their support for the imbecile-in-chief. Even if they do not, undecided and independent voters could well draw the conclusion that enough is enough while the previously apathetic who did not vote in 2016 may finally realise that their votes do in fact count when it comes to national leadership selection. None of this bodes well for the GOP in November.

Perhaps there is a goddess after all. Her name is Mother Nature, and in this instance all she had to do is to let human folly advance her work. That may wind up being a painful but necessary political blessing for the US regardless of who wins the Democratic presidential nomination.

30 Responses to “A tipping point for the dotard?”

  1. Görkem on March 16th, 2020 at 12:15

    I am afraid to Trumps supporters he can do no wrong, Fox News is already spinning that the lack of Coronavirus response is Bidens fault, and the dark corners of the right wing media ecosphere (which are not that far from the surface) are explaining to one another it is a socialist-Chinese bioweapon designed to destroy American prosperity.

    The same people who believed every failure of the American government between 2008 and 2016 was a product of Obama’s deliberate war against freedom appear to agree with Trump when he asserts that he is not accountable for his own governments inability to meet even a baseline of competence, and that the incompetence of people he appointed and institutions he set up is not his fault. Suspicion and distrust of the bureaucracy is a baseline trait for authoritarian conservative politics going back to the days of Imperial Russia – this is true no less so when the bureaucracy is under the authority of conservative leaders.

  2. Di Trower on March 16th, 2020 at 13:17

    Again, I hope you’re right, Pablo, but due to Trump’s method of going about things I reckon he will bully his way through this CV-19 pandemic and the political fallout it will engender. Reading this morning about the Trump administration’s attempt to secure a German laboratory’s work towards a Covid-19 vaccine for the exclusive use of the US points towards the type of tactics they will be employing. I think Trump and his cohorts will stop at nothing to remain in power. Anyway, listening to Kurt Elling, one of the USA’s finest Jazz exponents, singing this song which seems incredibly appropriate right now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYkVtMhVu_Y

  3. Pablo on March 16th, 2020 at 13:58

    Thanks Di,

    Among other things you will not know about me was that I was a jazz DJ in Chicago and Washington DC in the late 70s-early 80s (as a break from my other activities at the time). Had a show called “Sui Generis,” which featured bebop, hardbop, blues and avant grade–with a touch of rag and swing. For a time my show outro (signature concluding song) was a solo by Mike Nock, the NZ pianist.

    As for Trump, Gorkem has a point but I really think that this is different, and that the accumulated weight of his greed and corruption will bite him and the GOP hard this time. What I am most worried about is what I see as an increasing possibility that he will order a delay to the general elections under a declaration of national emergency (which was just done a few days ago). He has that power and yes, he will misuse it. Hopefully the Supreme Court, even if stacked with right-wingers, will see through that ruse once the order has been given and legally challenged.

  4. Di Trower on March 16th, 2020 at 14:51

    Wow! I did not know that, Pablo! And I was always so proud that Mike Nock was a Kiwi. That would have been a great time to be part of the jazz scene there.

    I sincerely hope that this is a turning point in Trump’s reign, but because I’ve been so shocked at everything that has unfolded during his time as POTUS I have lost faith that anything can turn that ship around. Fingers Toes and eyes crossed, of course. Let’s hope the bumbling and shambolic handling of the pandemic under Trump’s watch does not wreak to much death and destruction – but I suspect it will and on the poorest and most disadvantaged. And possibly those less likely to vote.

  5. Kumara Republic on March 16th, 2020 at 15:06

    It could be like the Lisbon quake of 1755, or the Chernobyl meltdown. Both were cataclysmic enough to rewrite the dominant and paralytic political order of the day.

    And speaking of jazz, I’ve been listening to a fair amount of Japanese jazz fusion lately…

  6. Di Trower on March 16th, 2020 at 15:55

    Echos of George Benson…..

    I promise I won’t post any more music, but this young bassist is from Wellington NZ:

  7. Görkem on March 16th, 2020 at 19:24

    So right now we are hoping that Covid-19 will turn right wingers against Trump, in the general election or in the supreme court if he tries to postpone or ignore the general election.

    I hate to say it, but I think that is pretty damn hopeful… that was the hope with Ukraine-gate too, but instead we saw that conservatives both in the base and in Washington are willing to not just turn the other cheek to illegal activity by the President, but openly praise him for it. I don’t see any reason to think they will not continue to do so. Covid is bad, but the other things Trump has done were also bad. And as any prosecution lawyer will tell us, past behaviour is a predictor of future behaviour.

  8. Pablo on March 17th, 2020 at 12:26

    On Monday March 16 the Dow dropped nearly 3000 points, 13 percent of its total value, at the same time that Trump was giving himself a ” 10 out of 10″ rating on how he handled the response to the epidemic. The guy is seriously delusional and there are few who will correct him other than Dr. Fauci, the infectious disease expert. So perhaps the market will say what the GOP is unwilling to admit and use a slide into bear territory to demonstrate its lack of faith in him. He has moved into criminal negligence/economic destabilisation territory.

    Also, there are reports from attendees that a transition meeting in February 2017 specifically gamed out pandemic scenarios for the incoming Trump advisory team. The advice given was ignored and the inter-agency setup in place to deal with a pandemic was dismantled while key players were dismissed. That amounts to a criminal conspiracy on the part of Trump’s advisors.

  9. Kumara Republic on March 17th, 2020 at 15:52

    Pablo: if I haven’t already said it before, the Trump Regime is basically the late-stage Soviet Politburo with a sharemarket – full of gerontocrats & fatally resistant to vital change.

  10. Görkem on March 17th, 2020 at 19:35

    Trump will have no problem continuing to claim that the economy is going great even as the stock market slumps. He was always and will always claim that regardless of the circumstances. The fact that up until no the US economy was chugging along fairly well was just a coincidence – even a stopped clock is right once in a while.

    I gotta say though Pablo, as reckless, irresponsible and foolish as it was to dissolve the pandemic planning group, I don’t think it reaches the level of criminal conspiracy. Not in a legally actionable sense, anyway.

  11. Di Trower on March 18th, 2020 at 08:14

    I’m beginning to think you may well be right, Pablo. Just hoping that the tweeted rant by David Clarke – a Trump backer – that was reported by Washington Post a day or so ago, for Trump to cancel the 2020 elections (so that Trump remains as POTUS) has not planted the seeds in Trump’s mind also. Nothing would surprise me now.

  12. AVR on March 19th, 2020 at 17:47

    Trump’s base is delusional but they’re not the only people that matter in an election. There are still voters who will swing from one party to the other given a hard enough shove, and Covid-19 given the White Houses muddled response is about the hardest shove there could be. It looks like it’ll just about guarantee one more election to be won by the Democrats, and putting off elections would just make that more certain.

    The problem is more elections after that, plus lingering effects like stacked courts and maybe a million dead in the USA. How would Trump’s imitators be stopped next time around (as he’s left a mark on the GOP for sure), and how to fix the mess he’ll leave behind him.

  13. Görkem on March 19th, 2020 at 19:16

    “There are still voters who will swing from one party to the other given a hard enough shove”

    True, but many of them swung away in 2016 anyway. Lots of lifelong Republican voters either voted for Hilary through gritted teeth (like Mitt Romney and Colin Powell) or didn’t vote at all. But Trump brought in a lot of habitually non-voting conservatives, enough to make up for it – at least in a few key states like Michigan and Wisconsin. I think the people who normally voted Republican but will not do so in extreme circumstances have already gone and will continue to stay away, but those who appeared in 2016 will remain. The only thing that would get them to leave the Trump coalition in electorally significant numbers is if Trump started acting in a more conventional Presidential way, but there’s slim chance of that, Covid or no Covid.

  14. EDWARD MAIN on March 20th, 2020 at 10:09

    Hi Pablo

    I have just read on RT.com that Gabbard has endorsed Biden.

    Geez. I am now eating humble pie. Tastes like….!!

  15. Pablo on March 20th, 2020 at 12:23

    Edward:

    Yes, that was an odd endorsement. But then again, she has behaved a bit oddly during this campaign. I imagine is that she is thinking of her position should Biden win and the House stay in Democratic hands. Endorsing Bernie would not help her with committee assignments etc.

  16. Görkem on March 20th, 2020 at 20:19

    @Edward: Do your read RT.com a lot?

  17. Di Trower on March 21st, 2020 at 06:47

    In a recent conversation with a close family member, he made the point that he thinks this is now the time of the East truly rising and the decline of the West being hastened now by this virus. He could be right. We shall see. But now that there seems to be a little bit of normalcy returning to life in China we’ll know pretty soon I think.

  18. Edward Main on March 21st, 2020 at 10:17

    @Gorkem.

    I read RT everyday. Why….. what’s up?

  19. Görkem on March 21st, 2020 at 12:59

    Just curious

    @Di Trower: Given that the virus started in “the east” and has hit “the east” just as hard, both economically and in terms of mortality, it sounds like your friend doesn’t really know what they are talking about.

  20. Di Trower on March 22nd, 2020 at 16:43

    Perhaps I did not phrase that very well – the way he put it (and as I understood what he said) was that the decline in the US in particular from its peak post war, and also the UK (and other parts of Europe) has been hastened in the past few years and is ramping up now with Trump and Brexit respectively. The virus did begin in China but they have been able to put in place measures to ensure the spread is contained, and there appear to be signs of recovery there. In the UK, other parts of Europe and the US, the leaders have followed a vastly different approach in many instances (and the citizens are generally not as malleable as perhaps the Chinese and some other Asian cultures). As China manages to recover from this disease more quickly, and begin to open up their society and industries again, they have a head start on everyone else economically. The world will be desperate to get back to normal and as production and export of goods resumes China, in particular, will be far better placed to take advantage of that.

  21. Gorkem on March 23rd, 2020 at 06:13

    I dunno it seems to me that China and Europe are following roughly the same path, e.g. mass lockdowns. What is happening in Italy and France and what happened in China two months ago are basically the same thing. Yes, China is easing back now, but that’s more likely to be because China started the lockdown earlier, not because they did it better.

    I dont know your friend so I shouldnt criticise them, but I will note that often when one has a preconceived narrative in mind one interprets facts in order to fit it. This can be true even when the preconceived narrative is objectively true. There is no doubt that China is growing in economic and political power, but if anything I think the Coronavirus represents a setback to this process (although not a fatal one).

  22. Pablo on March 23rd, 2020 at 10:30

    The ‘Asian Values” proponents have been predicting the coming Asian century since the mid 1990s. It may still be coming but it may not be as inevitable as they thought. After all, there is something called human fallibility in the mix, and that is not a cultural, ethnic or geographic trait.

  23. Görkem on March 23rd, 2020 at 11:31

    If anybody is tempted to argue with Pablo re: Asian values, I will point out he lived in Singapore so unlike armchair commentators he actually has first hand experience with armchair culture and “armchair values” – more experience than pretty much anybody commenting here, I will wager.

  24. Edward Main on March 23rd, 2020 at 12:08

    Re Asian Century

    Consider the infrastructure is already there

    1. Transport via the One Belt One Road initiative
    2. Security via the Shanghai Co-operation Organization
    3. Money via alternative payment systems to SWIFT

    Ready to switch ON at a moments notice

  25. Pablo on March 23rd, 2020 at 12:27

    Living in a place for four years does not confer expertise on me or anyone else but it did expose me to the Asian Values argument in all of its self-triumphant glory. Remember that Lee Kuan Yew was still alive then and he and Mahathir across the border were major early exponents of that school of thought. It was a constant subject of discussion is my classrooms. But like then, I continue to be skeptical of linear interpretations of history, much more so of those that include an inevitability clause in their perspectives, and even more so when this is rooted in championing of specific cultural attributes that justify certain forms of political organisation.

    Besides being reductionist it seems to be that such theories discount the impact of human diversity in all of its dimensions, something that is a force for good as well as evil.

  26. Görkem on March 23rd, 2020 at 19:35

    Once again Pablo I think you are holding yourself to too high a standard. You may not be the most knowledgable person in the world but compare yourself fo the average Kiwi whose entire experience with Asia has been a couple of weeks in Bali or Thailand and I will say, yes, you are very much an expert. And I am sure you will agree that, even if the word “expert” is not used, those who think to argue with you here or elsewhere would do well to consider your experiences in Singapore and maybe instead do something more productive with their lives than quibble with ideas created by someone with strategic knowledge and real world experience in the subject matter.

    Edward, once again you are showing a delusional indulgence. The One Belt One Road initiative is not ready to switch “ON” at a moments notice, quite the reverse, at present it is an uneven mix of infrastructure projects, some of them incomplete, some of them with no connection to other One Belt One Road projects. According to the Chinese government One Belt One Road will not be finished until 2049.

  27. Pablo on March 24th, 2020 at 07:46

    Your email handle tells me all that I need to know about that first paragraph. So let’s just avoid cheerleading from now on, shall we?

  28. Görkem on March 24th, 2020 at 10:05

    ?

  29. Pablo on March 24th, 2020 at 11:24

    “theirony@…” leads me to believe that there is much tongue in cheek in your comments. I would rather just stick to the straight and narrow of the subject being discussed.

  30. Görkem on March 24th, 2020 at 13:11

    Hi Pablo, I think you are reading too much into my email handle. I have been using it since 2004, long before I began commenting on this site or even became aware of you as a public commentator. I guess like a lot of things I thought was cool when I was 24, it doesnt seem so clever now, but that’s the internet for you. I am 100% on board with discussing the straight and narrow – that is what I have been doing all along. If you would prefer I can use another email.

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