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President Donald Trump's rambling, incoherent press briefings of late are nothing but exercises in blame deflection, lies, and gaslighting. In other words, campaigning Trump-style, only this time he is using a public health crisis to reach his audience.
It is obvious to those of us looking for leadership during an almost unbelievable situation, a deadly pandemic with no end in sight, that he is incapable of providing anything close to effective leadership. As sure as there is a virus out there that can kill you, this man is now a clear and present danger to the nation he leads. While the country is facing an epic public health crisis, our president is facing the crisis of his reelection.
COVID-19 has turned his world upside down. The booming economy he planned to run on has taken a drastic dive. He ignored the coming pandemic when action could have been taken to avoid the high numbers of dead and infected we see daily. He has turned the COVID-19 pandemic into the unthinkable, a partisan issue to be twisted to his advantage while some Americans die and others cannot feed their families. He must find scapegoats for his initial mishandling of the crisis, which has cost lives and tanked our economy, if he is to win a second term. A second term is necessary for him to avoid prosecution and very likely prison for all that came before we were consumed by this sudden upheaval of our daily lives in order to stay healthy, and in too many cases, alive.
In November he will face the Democratic opponent he fears the most, Joe Biden. He was impeached for an action he took as president to drum up false stories about Biden before the former vice president had the lock he now has on the Democratic nomination. Biden can cut into Trump's white working-class base while turning out Black Democratic voters in large numbers. Trump is indeed threatened, and he will stop at nothing to stay in the White House for another four years. If he doesn't, his future is his worst nightmare. Remember he doesn't care about your future; he only cares about his own. If robust testing nationwide reveals a high number of positive cases, that doesn't look good for Trump and further proves his mismanagement. He doesn't want you to see that number any more than he wants you to see his tax returns.
In the vacuum created by Trump's lack of leadership, the Democratic governors, along with some Republican governors, found their power and voice given to them by the 10th Amendment. They acted responsibly and took hold of the federal government's pandemic debacle, saving lives in the process.
Regional groups of governors acting in concert sprang up in order to address the crisis with unity instead of division, sensibly working together instead of at cross purposes. Our president didn't like that and went on the attack, mainly against the Democratic governors, announcing his absolute power in this situation. He was reminded the pesky Constitution confers upon him no such power, and the big wind in Washington, D.C., died down a bit. The attack quickly resumed, mainly against New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo, now on the national stage as a voice of reason and compassion. New Yorker that he is, Cuomo was having none of it and shot right back in real time on national television at Trump's tweets.
Now Trump's "break glass" moment was upon him, and with assistance from his buddies at Fox, he encouraged his ever-loyal and ever-foolish base in taking to the streets in opposition to lifesaving social distancing in order to open the economy now. Trump must get the economy shored up again or else his poll numbers fall and reelection looks like an uphill climb. It is about the economy, stupid. You can literally bet your life on it.
A totally self-absorbed, incompetent man, who would be removed if he were the CEO of a major company for the mess he has created, is our president at our most dire and dangerous time in decades.
Surely the Founding Fathers did not intend for the American people to find themselves stuck in such a situation. No, they did not. Impeachment is the recourse provided for the American people. Well, we found out that doesn't work when such a president has his political party, the majority party in the Senate, in lockstep with him. With their political wagons hitched so close to his, those of his party will do nothing to challenge their president, even in the face of his inability to lead the nation at this darkest hour. Everything is partisan, with the goal of making Democrats look bad in an election year. The 25th Amendment, section 4, allowing for the removal of a president incapable of performing his duties, is useless with the Republican Party in his pocket. His deadly dereliction of duty is a moot point.
The November election itself will become a flashpoint. Look for another debacle caused by deliberate lack of preparation on the part of the Republicans. Donald Trump will lose a free and fair election with a large voter turnout in November. Vote by mail is the logical, safe way to ensure the American people vote in November. Donald J. Trump has no personal fear of the COVID-19 virus. He is protected inside the White House. His biggest fear is your letter carrier with that ballot in his or her mailbag, ready to place it in your mailbox.
Susan SurfTone is a musician, former FBI agent, and regular contributor to The Advocate.