Questioned at his daily news conference on rating his performance to COVID-19 on a scale of 1 to 10 … ‘I’d rate it a 10,’ said President Trump. It takes a certain arrogance and brazenness when governors of states are screaming for help, when masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) are in short supply, when nothing happened in February, when the president continually played down the threat early on, even calling attempts to inform the public on the serious nature of the illness a ‘Democratic hoax.’
‘It will blow over when the weather warms up,’ was another refrain. It’s hitting 100F repeatedly in Delhi, current residence of the president’s friend, Narendra Modi, and India is in lockdown. True that viruses live longer in the dry interior of heated houses in winter, and we tend to cluster more inside them when it is cold increasing the likelihood of transmission. Perhaps ‘live’ is a wrong word as viruses are not a living organism like, say, bacteria. Apparently, they are more of a package of molecules but can be deadly all the same.
Well, we are under lockdown. There is an eerie silence with the country at a full stop. Does anyone even remember anything like this? Perhaps curfews during race riots, more common now in India than here in the US. People have been fined for taking a dog for a walk — tough on a dog accustomed to a little exercise to relieve his bowels.
The president has been now calling for the expert on his team, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to be fired. For what? For saying under questioning by a reporter that fewer would have died under an earlier lockdown. Poor man had to swallow his words, even if obvious, to satisfy the over-inflated ego of his boss who can do no wrong, even when wrong. Dr. Fauci is a physician who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He has served in this capacity since 1984 and is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It and the Congressional Gold Medal are the highest civilian awards bestowed in the US. So who would know more about how to control an epidemic, Dr. Fauci or the self-described infallible Donald Trump, who wants him fired?
Not to add to anyone’s worries and despite the president’s assurances, we have the first inkling of how a food shortage could occur. After several hundred workers were found to be infected with the coronavirus, Smithfield (now a wholly owned Chinese subsidiary) announced it is closing its giant Sioux Falls, South Dakota, meat processing plant. It alone accounts for 4 to 5 percent of US pork production, and also supplies raw material for their Martin City, Missouri, facility producing spiral and smoked ham, which now has to be closed indefinitely.
We have already had fights in the US over toilet rolls, so one can imagine the consequences of a food shortage. If such worries have caused a run on guns, we may be entering a new Wild West phase in our decidedly violent society … your leg of ham or your life! Meanwhile, the president continues his daily pollyannaish news conferences where the virus is already licked.
He also believes the constitution allows him the authority to do whatever he wants. If the founding fathers terrified of a monarchy or dictatorship designed it as a weak office with the power of the purse in Congress, two legislative bodies and the courts as countervailing powers, they clearly failed in the eyes of an egomaniac.
Such is the current state of the nation.
We have a fragile consciousness allowing us to perceive events, to believe and imagine, to project future trajectories based on our experience and knowledge. On occasion, overwhelmed by interfering personality traits, the system goes haywire. That is when the illusion of delusions takes over and rationality recedes. For the religious, it is a time to pray.