On March 13, the Atlantic published and insightful article by well know Republican political author and commentator Peter Wehner. Mr. Whener is a veteran of three Republican administrations: Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush. He is the author of The Death of Politics. He is an American writer and Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), a conservative think tank. He is also a fellow at the Trinity Forum. Wehner is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and a contributing editor at the Atlantic. The Atlantic article is followed by further information on Trump’s dismantling of the National Security Coucil ‘ s global health security office and Trump’s treatment of the Governor’s.
Below is the article published by the Atlantic with the link:
The Trump Presidency Is Over
MARCH 13, 2020
By Peter Wehner
Contributing writer at The Atlantic and senior fellow at EPPC
“It has taken a good deal longer than it should have, but Americans have now seen the con man behind the curtain.
When, in January 2016, I wrote that despite being a lifelong Republican who worked in the previous three GOP administrations, I would never vote for Donald Trump, even though his administration would align much more with my policy views than a Hillary Clinton presidency would, a lot of my Republican friends were befuddled. How could I not vote for a person who checked far more of my policy boxes than his opponent?
What I explained then, and what I have said many times since, is that Trump is fundamentally unfit—intellectually, morally, temperamentally, and psychologically—for office. For me, that is the paramount consideration in electing a president, in part because at some point it’s reasonable to expect that a president will face an unexpected crisis—and at that point, the president’s judgment and discernment, his character and leadership ability, will really matter.
David Frum: The worst outcome
“Mr. Trump has no desire to acquaint himself with most issues, let alone master them” is how I put it four years ago. “No major presidential candidate has ever been quite as disdainful of knowledge, as indifferent to facts, as untroubled by his benightedness.” I added this:
Mr. Trump’s virulent combination of ignorance, emotional instability, demagogy, solipsism and vindictiveness would do more than result in a failed presidency; it could very well lead to national catastrophe. The prospect of Donald Trump as commander in chief should send a chill down the spine of every American.
It took until the second half of Trump’s first term, but the crisis has arrived in the form of the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s hard to name a president who has been as overwhelmed by a crisis as the coronavirus has overwhelmed Donald Trump.
To be sure, the president isn’t responsible for either the coronavirus or the disease it causes, COVID-19, and he couldn’t have stopped it from hitting our shores even if he had done everything right. Nor is it the case that the president hasn’t done anything right; in fact, his decision to implement a travel ban on China was prudent. And any narrative that attempts to pin all of the blame on Trump for the coronavirus is simply unfair. The temptation among the president’s critics to use the pandemic to get back at Trump for every bad thing he’s done should be resisted, and schadenfreude is never a good look.
That said, the president and his administration are responsible for grave, costly errors, most especially the epic manufacturing failures in diagnostic testing, the decision to test too few people, the delay in expanding testing to labs outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and problems in the supply chain. These mistakes have left us blind and badly behind the curve, and, for a few crucial weeks, they created a false sense of security. What we now know is that the coronavirus silently spread for several weeks, without us being aware of it and while we were doing nothing to stop it. Containment and mitigation efforts could have significantly slowed its spread at an early, critical point, but we frittered away that opportunity.
“They’ve simply lost time they can’t make up. You can’t get back six weeks of blindness,” Jeremy Konyndyk, who helped oversee the international response to Ebola during the Obama administration and is a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, told The Washington Post. “To the extent that there’s someone to blame here, the blame is on poor, chaotic management from the White House and failure to acknowledge the big picture.”
Ben Rhodes: How Trump designed his White House to fail
Earlier this week, Anthony Fauci, the widely respected director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases whose reputation for honesty and integrity has been only enhanced during this crisis, admitted in congressional testimony that the United States is still not providing adequate testing for the coronavirus. “It is failing. Let’s admit it.” He added, “The idea of anybody getting [testing] easily, the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. I think it should be, but we’re not.”
We also know the World Health Organization had working tests that the United States refused, and researchers at a project in Seattle tried to conduct early tests for the coronavirus but were prevented from doing so by federal officials. Doctors at the research project eventually decided to perform coronavirus tests without federal approval.
But that’s not all. The president reportedly ignored early warnings of the severity of the virus and grew angry at a CDC official who in February warned that an outbreak was inevitable. The Trump administration dismantled the National Security Council’s global-health office, whose purpose was to address global pandemics; we’re now paying the price for that. “We worked very well with that office,” Fauci told Congress. “It would be nice if the office was still there.” We may face a shortage of ventilators and medical supplies, and hospitals may soon be overwhelmed, certainly if the number of coronavirus cases increases at a rate anything like that in countries such as Italy. This would cause not only needless coronavirus-related deaths, but deaths from those suffering from other ailments who won’t have ready access to hospital care.
Yascha Mounk: The extraordinary decisions facing Italian doctors
Some of these mistakes are less serious and more understandable than others. One has to take into account that in government, when people are forced to make important decisions based on incomplete information in a compressed period of time, things go wrong.
Yet in some respects, the avalanche of false information from the president has been most alarming of all. It’s been one rock slide after another, the likes of which we have never seen. Day after day after day he brazenly denied reality, in an effort to blunt the economic and political harm he faced. But Trump is in the process of discovering that he can’t spin or tweet his way out of a pandemic. There is no one who can do to the coronavirus what Attorney General William Barr did to the Mueller report: lie about it and get away with it.
The president’s misinformation and mendacity about the coronavirus are head-snapping. He claimed that it was contained in America when it was actually spreading. He claimed that we had “shut it down” when we had not. He claimed that testing was available when it wasn’t. He claimed that the coronavirus will one day disappear “like a miracle”; it won’t. He claimed that a vaccine would be available in months; Fauci says it will not be available for a year or more.
Trump falsely blamed the Obama administration for impeding coronavirus testing. He stated that the coronavirus first hit the United States later than it actually did. (He said that it was three weeks prior to the point at which he spoke; the actual figure was twice that.) The president claimed that the number of cases in Italy was getting “much better” when it was getting much worse. And in one of the more stunning statements an American president has ever made, Trump admitted that his preference was to keep a cruise ship off the California coast rather than allowing it to dock, because he wanted to keep the number of reported cases of the coronavirus artificially low.
“I like the numbers,” Trump said. “I would rather have the numbers stay where they are. But if they want to take them off, they’ll take them off. But if that happens, all of a sudden your 240 [cases] is obviously going to be a much higher number, and probably the 11 [deaths] will be a higher number too.” Cooler heads prevailed, and over the president’s objections, the Grand Princess was allowed to dock at the Port of Oakland.
On and on it goes.
To make matters worse, the president delivered an Oval Office address that was meant to reassure the nation and the markets but instead shook both. The president’s delivery was awkward and stilted; worse, at several points, the president, who decided to ad-lib the teleprompter speech, misstated his administration’s own policies, which the administration had to correct. Stock futures plunged even as the president was still delivering his speech. In his address, the president called for Americans to “unify together as one nation and one family,” despite having referred to Washington Governor Jay Inslee as a “snake” days before the speech and attacking Democrats the morning after it. As The Washington Post’s Dan Balz put it, “Almost everything that could have gone wrong with the speech did go wrong.”
Read: You’re likely to get the coronavirus
Taken together, this is a massive failure in leadership that stems from a massive defect in character. Trump is such a habitual liar that he is incapable of being honest, even when being honest would serve his interests. He is so impulsive, shortsighted, and undisciplined that he is unable to plan or even think beyond the moment. He is such a divisive and polarizing figure that he long ago lost the ability to unite the nation under any circumstances and for any cause. And he is so narcissistic and unreflective that he is completely incapable of learning from his mistakes. The president’s disordered personality makes him as ill-equipped to deal with a crisis as any president has ever been. With few exceptions, what Trump has said is not just useless; it is downright injurious.
The nation is recognizing this, treating him as a bystander “as school superintendents, sports commissioners, college presidents, governors and business owners across the country take it upon themselves to shut down much of American life without clear guidance from the president,” in the words of Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times.
Donald Trump is shrinking before our eyes.
The coronavirus is quite likely to be the Trump presidency’s inflection point, when everything changed, when the bluster and ignorance and shallowness of America’s 45th president became undeniable, an empirical reality, as indisputable as the laws of science or a mathematical equation.
It has taken a good deal longer than it should have, but Americans have now seen the con man behind the curtain. The president, enraged for having been unmasked, will become more desperate, more embittered, more unhinged. He knows nothing will be the same. His administration may stagger on, but it will be only a hollow shell. The Trump presidency is over.
The link to the Atlantic article is here:
TRUMP DISMANTLED NSC’s GLOBAL HEALTH SECURITY OFFICE
In 2016, President Barack Obama created the pandemic preparedness office at the National Security Council after his administration was criticized for its initial response to the Ebola epidemic in 2014 and 2015. Hating all things Obama, President Trump dismantled the National Security Council’s global health security office. Trump did so even after his own bio defense preparedness adviser warned that a flu pandemic was the country’s No. 1 health security threat, the United States was not prepared. Trump dismissed the concern as be over reactionary.
A month after John Bolton became Trump’s national Security Advisor, Bolton nixed the pandemic preparedness office as part of an effort to streamline the agency. A number of top-notch global health experts left the administration in the wake of Bolton’s decision. Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, said:
“Bolton’s chosen approach to NSC ‘streamlining’ involved decapitating and diluting the White House’s focus on pandemic threats. … [Closing the pandemic office] clearly reflected the White House’s misplaced priorities and has proven to be a gross misjudgment.”
DESPERATE PLEAS MET WITH ARROGANT DEMANDS
“After days of desperate pleas from the nation’s governors, President Donald Trump took a round of steps to expand the federal government’s role in helping produce critically needed supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic even as he warned the leaders of hard-hit states not to cross him.
“I want them to be appreciative,” Trump said Friday after the White House announced that he would be using the powers granted to him under the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to try to compel auto giant General Motors to produce ventilators.
Yet Trump — who hours earlier had suggested the need for the devices was being overblown — rejected any criticism of the federal government’s response to a ballooning public health crisis that a month ago he predicted would be over by now.
“We have done a hell of a job,” Trump said, as he sent an ominous message to state and local leaders who have been urging the federal government to do more to help them save lives.
Trump said he had instructed Vice President Mike Pence not to call the governors of Washington or Michigan — two coronavirus hotspots — because of their public criticism. “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said.
Trump continued to suggest that states’ own failures were to blame for the needed intervention. “Normally these would be bought for states, just so you understand” he said.”
THE “RALLY ‘ROUND THE FLAG PHENOMENON”
It comes as no surprise that President Donald Trump is declaring himself a “wartime president”. His appointed Surgeon General is now saying “This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment”. Trump knows full well that the wartime references will give him a bump in popularity for his re election bid. Its called “rally round the flag” effect.
The rally ’round the flag effect is a concept used in political science and international relations to explain increased short-run popular support for a President of the United States during periods of major crisis or war that threatens the United States. The rally ’round the flag” effect can reduce criticism of governmental policies. It is a political science theory that political scientist John Mueller suggested in 1970 in his a landmark paper called “Presidential Popularity from Truman to Johnson”. In times of major crisis, usually in time of war and national threat, the American public usually views a President as the embodiment of national unity, an the president’s popularity goes up and it does not last. The best example is 9-11 where President George W. Bushes popularity soared to over 90% and he left office with approval ratings in the 30’s.
President Trump is no different when it come the “rally around the flag” phenomenon . On March 24, the on line news agency Bloomberg published a story that a recent Gallup poll found that six in 10 Americans approve of the job Donald Trump is doing to combat the coronavirus crisis, pushing the president’s approval rating to 49%, the highest of his presidency. According to the poll voters are largely giving Trump positive marks for his handling of the pandemic, with 94% of Republicans, 60% of independents, and 27% of Democrats approving of his efforts. That’s higher than his general approval rating among each group. The Gallup poll was conducted from March 13 through March 22 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The rally ’round the flag” effect has a short shelf life. Trump has probably hit the highest number of 49% he is going to get, which is far less than what other Presidents experienced during time of crisis. It is more likely than not with the way Mr. Trump and his administration is handling the crisis his popularity will go down.
After over 3 years of constant daily news coverage and twitters from Trump creating crisis, after crisis, after crisis of his own making, even bringing the country close to nuclear war with North Korea, the United States is now faced with a major pandemic revealing a man who is totally incompetent and totally unprepared to be President. The pandemic just may throw this country into a great depression, yet his Republican supporters insist on giving Trump high marks for handling the crisis with the Gallup Poll revealing that Trump has a 94% approval rating for handling the crisis among Republicans.
Trump has an uncanny ability to make things worse with his daily tweeting and self-absorbed, self-center arrogance. His supporters look upon him as the messiah that is cult like. As the pandemic worsens, which is most assured, the odds are high that he will only complicate the crisis, making things MUCH worse and create another crisis within a crisis. More people will die because of his mishandling of it. A good example is the instructions he gave to Vice President Mike Pence to tell the Governors to be appreciative for his help, which is akin to asking a person dying of thirst demanding they say “thank you” before they are allowed a drink of water.
Trump will make things worse because he just cannot help it. Our Bone Spur President and Commander in Chief thinks he is taking us to war. It’s a war which in all likely our casualties would be thousands less had he acted back in January like a true leader and not like a self-center Colonel Sanders stuffing his face eating Kentucky Fried chicken all day long in the White House residence.