Wednesday, September 09, 2020


I don't have to tell you what today's top story is.
President Donald Trump admitted he knew weeks before the first confirmed US coronavirus death that the virus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious and "more deadly than even your strenuous flus," and that he repeatedly played it down publicly, according to legendary journalist Bob Woodward in his new book "Rage."

"This is deadly stuff," Trump told Woodward on February 7.

In a series of interviews with Woodward, Trump revealed that he had a surprising level of detail about the threat of the virus earlier than previously known. "Pretty amazing," Trump told Woodward, adding that the coronavirus was maybe five times "more deadly" than the flu.

Trump's admissions are in stark contrast to his frequent public comments at the time insisting that the virus was "going to disappear" and "all work out fine."
Trump knew, earlier than the rest of us, about the dangers of this virus. Trump knew and covered it up, because he believes in the Power of Positive Thinking. He thought he could wish the pandemic away and save his precious stock market gains.

If Trump had a conscience, he would have long since resigned in shame and disappeared from public life. As it is, this probably won't make more than a tiny dent in his polling. He'll still be a contender for the presidency in November. He won't alter anything he's doing about the pandemic, and his fans will be fine with that.

Trump is a monster. There's no question anymore who the worst president in American history has been. It would take a Hitler to top him.

Yet much of the commentary I've read in liberal online circles today has barely focused on Trump at all. Typical of what I've seen is this, from Charlie Pierce:
Both the President* and Bob Woodward Knew This for Months and Kept It From the Public

Woodward knew the truth behind the administration*’s deadly bungling—and worse—and he saved it for his book, which will be released to wild acclaim and huge profits after nearly 200,000 Americans have died.

... Pause for a moment and gaze in awe at what happens when two towering careerists collide.

Let us be clear. Both of these men knew before anyone else that the president* was lying in public about the most serious public health crisis in a century. Both of these men knew before anyone else how serious that threat was, and how deadly the disease could be. Both of these men knew before anyone else that a potential disaster was not only possible, but increasingly likely. BOTH OF THESE MEN KNEW! The president* knew and lied because he wanted to get re-elected. Woodward knew and kept it to himself because he had a book to sell. Who’s worse? Far too measured a choice for this reporter, but, as someone who in his own small way practices the same craft as Bob Woodward, I have to wonder how Woodward watched the president* lie for six months as the body count ratcheted skyward without his conscience tearing out his heart. I have to wonder if, in some small way, journalism as public service died as collateral damage in that struggle.
All of this is true -- but one of these men was the president of the United States. His desk, not Woodward's, was where the buck stopped. You can call Woodward an amoral monster, but Trump is -- by far -- the greater villain.

And yet the thoughts of Pierce and many of the people I follow on social media instantly went to Woodward. I get it. A timely report on this, with Trump on the record and on tape, might have saved lives -- though I think it's important to stress the might in that. Confronted with his own words, Trump who's been lying longer than most of us have been alive, would have claimed that he'd been told a number of contrary things. He'd have claimed that the danger was contained because he personally had the virus under control. He'd have lashed out at everyone who wanted to use his words to enforce stricter public health measures -- and if he couldn't change the narrative right away, he'd have done it a couple of weeks later, just the way he did shortly after endorsing a (porous) shutdown of the country, when he angrily demanded reopenings and claimed the spring weather would magically make the virus go away, even as thousands died daily in New York City and elsewhere.

He is the worst monster in this story.

The decisions made by Woodward, his newspaper, and his publisher may have been morally abhorrent, but those are secondary indictments that should be brought only after Trump and all his loyal aides, legislative brown-nosers, and media flacks have had their time in the dock.

We can't rerun this history. Woodward withheld this information. We have it now. Let's focus on ensuring that as many people as possible understand how monstrous Trump's judgments were, and how unfit he is to serve as president.

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