Throughout the coronavirus epidemic, President Donald Trump’s army of defenders — from Republicans in the federal government to his right-wing media apologists — have jumped through hoops to defend his woefully inadequate response to the crisis. And liberal economist Paul Krugman, in his New York Times column, warns that this type of stupidity will have “deadly consequences” for Americans.
“Over the weekend,” Krugman explains, “Donald Trump once again declared that the coronavirus is perfectly under control, that any impressions to the contrary are due to the ‘fake news media’ out to get him. Question: Does anyone have a count of how many times he’s done this, comparable to the running tallies fact- checkers are keeping of his lies? In any case, we’ve pretty clearly reached the point where Trump’s assurances that everything is fine actually worsen the panic, because they demonstrate the depths of his delusions.” Trump’s most strident supporters, according to Krugman, have been quick to defend his “luridly delusional response to the coronavirus and his conspiracy theorizing about Democrats and the news media” —adding that “denial and the resulting delay are likely to have deadly consequences” in the United States.
Looking back on the Great Recession, Krugman stresses that coronavirus isn’t the first time Republicans have mindlessly spouted idiotic conspiracy theories in the face of a major crisis.
“After the economic crisis helped Barack Obama win the 2008 election,” Krugman recalls, “right-wing pundits declared that it was all a left-wing conspiracy. Karl Rove and Bill O’Reilly accused the news media of hyping bad news to enable Obama’s socialist agenda, while Rush Limbaugh asserted that Sen. Chuck Schumer personally caused the crisis.” But the difference between the Great Recession and coronavirus, Krugman stresses, is that the latter is literally killing people. Coronavirus, as of March 10, had killed more than 4000 people worldwide.
“The clear and present danger now isn’t so much that large numbers of Americans will get sick — that was probably going to happen anyway — but that the epidemic will move so fast that it overloads our hospitals,” Krugman warns. “By not instituting widespread testing from the start, the U.S. has ensured that there are now cases all over the country — we have no idea how many — and that the virus will spread rapidly. And even now, there is no hint that the (Trump) Administration is ready for the kinds of public health measures that might limit the pace of that spread.”
Krugman concludes his column by lamenting that just as Republicans — in the months leading up to the economic crash of September 2008 — were in denial about the trouble that was brewing, they are equally delusional about the severity of coronavirus.
“Has there ever been a president so obviously not up to the job?,” Krugman says of Trump. “But in refusing to face uncomfortable facts, in attributing all bad news to sinister conspiracies, he’s actually just being a normal man of his faction. In 2020, we’re relearning the lessons of 2008 — namely, that America’s right-wingers can’t handle the truth.
Enjoy this piece?
… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.
It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.