Conservative reveals how Trump may have missed the moment to save his presidency
Never Trump conservative and Washington Post columnist Max Boot has been consistently critical of the way in which President Donald Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic, often slamming his response as appalling incompetence. But Boot, this week in his column, argues that the COVID-19 bombshells described in veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” show that Trump’s actions were worse than incompetence.
Trump has said that back in January and February, no one could have known how deadly the pandemic would be in the United States. But in “Rage,” due out September 15, Woodward reports that Trump did, in fact, know how dire it would be. Publicly, Trump was telling audiences, in February, that COVID-19 didn’t pose a major threat to the U.S., but during a February 7 conversation, Trump told Woodward that COVID-19 was much more “deadly” than the flu.
“In a way,” Boot writes, “Woodward’s book is almost reassuring. It shows that Trump was not entirely delusional. He actually realized that the coronavirus was far more threatening than the flu. He just chose to deceive the American public by playing down the disease at least 108 times. His explanation: he is ‘a cheerleader for this country,’ and he didn’t want to cause ‘panic’ or a ‘frenzy.’”
Boot goes on to say that Trump “would have been far better off leveling with the public,” adding, “Not only would this have saved countless lives, it also might have saved the Trump presidency. But he just couldn’t break the mendacious habits of a lifetime. No doubt he imagined he could bluff and spin his way through the pandemic the way he had done with countless crises in the past, from corporate bankruptcies to his impeachment. He did not seem to realize that a virus could not be banished with happy talk.”
The columnist stresses that if Trump honestly believed, in February, that COVID-19 wasn’t a major threat, that type of ignorance would be bad enough. But Trump, Boot writes, knew that a major storm was on the way and kept quiet about it.
“Whatever Trump’s motivation, his lies are criminal and inexcusable,” Boot argues. “On second thought, that he knew better actually makes it worse. Trump is like the captain of a ship who knows it is about to hit an iceberg but doesn’t tell the passengers to make for the lifeboats. That is an offense even more serious than simply falling asleep at the watch.”
To make matters worse, Boot adds, Trump’s allies were willing to echo his false claims that coronavirus wasn’t a major threat to the U.S. The Never Trumper notes that White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow, on February 25, claimed “We have contained this. I won’t say airtight, but pretty close to airtight.” And White House Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway, during a March 6 press conference, told CBS News’ Paula Reid, “It is being contained. Do you not think it is being contained?”
ME: Why didn't they [send out #coronavirus tests and prepare hospitals] while it was contained? Get ahead of it?… https://t.co/0cte36caC1— Paula Reid (@Paula Reid) 1583520868.0
Clearly, COVID-19 wasn’t “being contained,” as Conway claimed on March 6. The pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has killed more than 191,000 people in the United States and over 905,000 people worldwide.
“Now, the lies are unraveling,” Boot writes, “but Trump supporters have become so habituated to his doublethink that it may be too late for them to acknowledge reality.”