Facts are stubborn things, whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion.
— John Adams in his successful defense of British soldiers charged with murder in the Boston Massacre.
After almost four years of being ruled by the trump it should come as no surprise. But it does. For years as children, we all subscribed to the bizarre notion that “what you don’t know can’t hurt you.” The trump has now explained to his subjects that even though we thought with adulthood we had learned that what we don’t know CAN hurt you, he has now explained on numerous occasions that ignorance is indeed bliss and what you don’t know can’t hurt you. It’s all thanks to the pandemic.
Starting in early May the trump explained that what seemed like the terrible consequences of the pandemic on those living in the United States, the consequences were not nearly as bad as was commonly believed. Starting a mere 6 weeks after the scope of the pandemic became common knowledge, the trump began offering reassurance to his subjects that the reason we thought the pandemic was a really bad thing was because of facts disclosed by the testing that was being done in this country.
On May 6, less than two months after the United States entered a lockdown period in order to curb the pandemic, the trump attributed the number of deaths and illnesses being caused by the pandemic to the testing being done that, he explained, “makes us look bad. The media likes to say we have the most cases, but we do, by far, the most testing. If we did very little testing we wouldn’t have the most cases. So, in a way, by doing all of this testing, we make ourselves look bad.”
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Since that is a concept some find hard to understand, in a subsequent conversation with Iowa Governor Tim Reynolds, he explained that we don’t have more cases than other countries but by doing all of the testing “we’re going to have more cases because we do more testing. Otherwise you don’t know if you have a case. I think that’s a correct statement.”
The scientific side of the trump continued to manifest itself just as did the consequences of the pandemic. At the pandemic spreading event that he sponsored in Tulsa in late June, he said he had asked his people to “slow the testing down, please.” Earlier he had explained to reporters that “When you test, you create cases.” The pandemic was oblivious to the trump explanation and according to one report, in 26 states that reported an increase in cases from mid-May to mid-July, the increase was attributable not to increased testing but to the pandemic’s ability to spread on its own.
Trump’s enthusiasm for attributing the increased numbers of dead and afflicted not to the disease, but to the results of testing has carried over into his political campaign and his dislike of certain parts of the country over which he presides as president. In a mid-September interview with USA Today, he blamed the “blue states” for increasing the nation’s coronavirus death rate. He explained that if you ignored the number of deaths that have taken place in what the trump describes as the “blue” states the death rate in the United States compared with other countries would put the United States efforts to battle the pandemic in a much better light. He said that it was the blue states that made the United States look bad because they had “tremendous death rates.” Explaining further he said: “If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at. We’re really at a very low level but some of the states-they were blue states, and blue-state managed.”
The trump as is well known, is introspective by nature and it was, therefore, not surprising to learn that in an interview with Fox News that took place on September 21, 2020, he thoughtfully evaluated his performance during the time leading up to his interview. He candidly admitted that he did not give himself good marks for how he dealt with public relations, acknowledging that he deserved no more than a D in that arena. However, he gave himself high marks for how he has handled the crisis brought on by the pandemic. Referring to that he said: “On the job itself, we take an A+.” He gives himself an A+ even though the United States has less than 5% of the world’s population but more than 20% of the deaths reported during the pandemic worldwide. Victims of the pandemic in the blue and even the red states, would probably give him a somewhat lower mark-so would many of the rest of us. He wouldn’t care. Facts, for the trump, are at most minor inconveniences that can always be overcome by rhetoric.