For the past several weeks we’ve been treated to daily “updates” from the White House about coronavirus; starring, of course, our reality television president, Donald Trump. The man loves a camera and he’s in campaign mode.
I once read somewhere that Trump likes “chaos”. Something about “manipulation” is made easier when everyone is confused and questioning. This may work well in some business but it surely spells disaster in disasters. Such as the lack of a mass-testing plan, crucial to containing pandemics and the best way work-life can resume with some iota of confidence.
Clearly, Trump’s denial/neglect/incompetence created this national health crisis only for him to end-up exploiting it for his own purposes and revenge. After signing the “emergency funds” stimulus bill, he declared the oversight provision “hortatory not mandatory”. And a week later he removed the Inspector General overseeing spending, an independent watchdog. Talk about white hetero-male privilege.
However, it’s all chaos when it comes to “Who is in Charge?” of coronavirus. Since it’s health and disease we are dealing with, we assume the CDC or Health and Human Services would be at the forefront, maybe even in charge.
Much to his chagrin, HHS Chief Alex Azar has been mostly sidelined; who knows where the CDC’s Redfield went. Trump named VP Mike Pence to “lead the response”. Not long after that, Deborah Birx was named “White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator”. Our Surgeon General is making videos.
Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, it’s the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner; the emotionless human albatross in-charge of, well, way too much; suffice it to say he’s yet to chalk-up a mission accomplished.
His efforts distributing personal protection equipment supplies, like his Mideast Peace plan, are drawing protests from affected parties.
For three long years we’ve heard nothing from Trump except self-congratulations, spin, and blameshifting, “It’s the media’s fault” or “The Democrats”. But honestly, I think he will go down in history for his well-practiced mantra: “I take no responsibility for anything at all”. The exact opposite of his gracious predecessor Barack Obama who took total responsibility when things went awry: he called the 2010 midterms’ GOP Tea Party wave, “A shellacking, and it’s on me”.
And from what I know of the first female presidential nominee of a major American political party, Hillary Rodham Clinton, which is a lot, she too would take full responsibility.
Which begs the question: How did we get here; why is This Unfit Man president?
Sexism. Pure and simple.
Seems to me, the things we are taught, beginning in Sunday School, have had no small bearing on our subliminal thinking, especially the older white-majority voters whose candidate won the 2016 election.
The Creation story alone implies that women are not just second-class, hence, replaceable, what with Eve being constructed from a spare part of the male anatomy (rib), but worse, Original Woman Eve is depicted as dishonest and untrustworthy (“She’s a liar!”, sound familiar?) by offering Adam the apple …which he could’ve rejected.
Sexism from “both sides”, I might add (see the Wisconsin 2016 primary: dyed-in-the- wool socialist Senator Bernie Sanders beat former Secretary of State/Senator/ First Lady and proud capitalist Hillary Clinton by double-digits; yet, the 2020 Wisconsin primary polls give Joe Biden a 30-point lead over Sanders; hmm.) Maybe we are now paying the price for holding a woman to an impossible set of standards we don’t require of men. “She just seems like she’s lying” cost her even when we know Trump is constantly lying.
Maybe women just aren’t as good at tooting their own horn so self-promotion feels deceptive. Of course, men are allowed to be “ambitious” so, “saying what it takes to win” is OK.
Too many Electoral College-states’ voters bought lock, stock and barrel into the gendered media portrayal of Hillary Clinton. The woman is a bureaucrat’s bureaucrat. She was also voted Most Admirable Woman 20 years running; a man with her resume wouldn’t even be questioned. But more importantly, being a woman and a mother, I like to think she has an added quality: an instinct to protect her charges.
Get this: On May 7, 2015, leading the presidential campaign media charge, Dylan Byers wrote for Politico.com: “Never has the national media been more primed to take down Hillary Clinton (and by the same token elevate a Republican candidate)”. He did not write “expose her inconsistencies” or hypocrisy; nope, “take her down”.
Little did they know that candidate would be Trump. It’s funny, but I’ve long concluded that most national journalists suffer serious hubris and wish only to keep their jobs “informing the masses” to stroke their egos. But to do so they must keep the American people happy.
And although it’s true most mainstream journalists, like most Americans, are more liberal-minded, it’s not true that they are every four years solely in the can for Democrats.
So, to this end, they cover politics/government as if there is no actual truth or facts, just argumentation and debate from both sides. Everybody happy?
Fast forward to mid-April 2020: A half-million Americans test positive for novel coronavirus, about 20,000 dead. And even though DC operatives, Republicans and Democrats, were briefed on Intel reports and knew in January that something deadly was this way coming, our beloved national media covered Democratic voices who were heeding these reports, as if their sounding of the alarm was nothing more than counter-politics to a presidential administration uniquely unqualified for this moment.
If only we had had a mother’s “protector instinct” in the White House when they were first warned.
Unfortunately, that candidate just “seems like she’s lying”, an unforgivable trait …in a woman.
May we forgive one another.
Evans is a local writer whose opinions have appeared in local publications, TIME and The Nation.