[guest post by Dana]
[Ed. Paul Montagu had a quibble with the original title of the post. I agreed with his quibble, and have re-worked the title as a result.]
On Saturday morning, President Trump tweeted the following:
..Even whether it’s dumb warmongers like John Bolton, social pretenders like Bob Woodward, who never has anything good to say, or an unstable niece, who was now rightfully shunned, scorned and mocked her entire life, and never even liked by her own very kind & caring grandfather!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2020
This morning, excerpts from Bob Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” have been released. In the book, Woodward claims that President Trump admitted he knew weeks before the first confirmed US coronavirus death that the virus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious and “more deadly than even your strenuous flus”. That’s a far different story than what he told us in the early stages of the pandemic:
“This is deadly stuff,” Trump told Woodward on February 7.
In a series of interviews with Woodward, Trump revealed that he had a surprising level of detail about the threat of the virus earlier than previously known. “Pretty amazing,” Trump told Woodward, adding that the coronavirus was maybe five times “more deadly” than the flu.
Trump’s admissions are in stark contrast to his frequent public comments at the time insisting that the virus was “going to disappear” and “all work out fine.”
The book, using Trump’s own words, depicts a President who has betrayed the public trust and the most fundamental responsibilities of his office. In “Rage,” Trump says the job of a president is “to keep our country safe.” But in early February, Trump told Woodward he knew how deadly the virus was, and in March, admitted he kept that knowledge hidden from the public.
“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward on March 19, even as he had declared a national emergency over the virus days earlier. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
“Playing it down” lines up with what we have seen and heard from Trump himself over the past eight months, not just at the beginning of the pandemic. While I would give most presidents the benefit of the doubt about not wanting to create a panic, it’s difficult for me to give this particular president the same benefit. But, for argument sake, if we agree that there was an element of truth to his claim that he didn’t want to cause panic (at least in the very early stages of the pandemic), it must also be acknowledged that it was a decision of self-interest, and an effort to protect himself and his political future. In spite of having every possible medical expert available to him to fully inform him about the disease and what a full-blown pandemic would look like, as well as having a pandemic playbook to which to refer, he continued with his charade of minimizing the crisis. By rejecting social distancing protocols, including wearing a mask, Trump was no longer just downplaying the virus – he was flat-out refusing to lead Americans by example on how to combat the spread of the virus. Even when it became obvious to everyone that we were in a full-blown pandemic, Trump’s continued efforts to downplay it not only created confusion for the public but led to lives being unnecessarily lost.
It’s been ordered by the governor,” David Plyler, a Trump supporter and GOP chair of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners…
But when the president emerged Tuesday evening to address a cheering group of supporters, his face was fully exposed, a likely violation of the state’s coronavirus rules.
The same was true of many of the supporters behind his podium, especially those high up in the stands and out of view. And in fact, the whole event appears to have defied restrictions from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D), who has limited outdoor mass gatherings at 50 people under the state’s current phase of reopening.
Trump jeered that crowd cap too, suggesting that his supporters received less leeway than the widespread demonstrations for racial justice that have swept the nation this summer…
“We call you peaceful protesters, you know why?” Trump told his supporters, who were tightly packed into several bleachers erected near Smith Reynolds Airport. “Because they have rules in these Democrat-run states that if you’re campaigning, you cannot have more than five people. They did that for me.”
Trump’s campaign told CNN that masks and hand sanitizer would be provided for Winston-Salem rally attendees, who would be screened before the event with temperature checks. Anyone signing up for a ticket was also required to acknowledge the possibility of infection, as has been true of other audiences on the campaign trail.
“The president of the United States sets the example for everybody else,” Plyler told CNN. “You can hear it: if the president of the United States says I don’t have to wear it, I’m not going to wear it. And I can guarantee you that will be done.”
Anyway, same ‘ol, same ‘ol with this guy.
Woodward’s book will be available September 15.
UPDATE: Watch Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana ignore reality, play deaf, and sacrifice his integrity as he desperately tries to defend Trump. It should be noted that defending Trump will almost always require a sacrifice of integrity:
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA): These gotcha books don't really interest me that much.
CNN's Pamela Brown: He's on the record. He's on the record.
Kennedy: These gotcha books don't really interest me that much.
Brown: He did 18 interviews with Bob Woodward … He's recorded. pic.twitter.com/GGuAZkw4KO
— The Recount (@therecount) September 9, 2020
Here is the full
conversation denial of reality:
Brown asked Kennedy for his reaction to the book, and he said, “These gotcha books don’t really interest me that much” — a comment he said repeatedly as Brown pressed him for an answer.
“He’s on the record,” Brown replied.
“These gotcha books don’t really interest me that much,” said Kennedy. “There will be a new one out tomorrow.”
“But this is different,” said Brown. “He did eighteen interviews with Bob Woodward.”
“Right,” said Kennedy.
“He’s recorded,” insisted Brown. “You hear his voice. And you’re seeing that and you’re contrasting that with what he says to the public. Wouldn’t that be something of interest to you as a United States Senator?”
“Let me answer you again. These gotcha books don’t really interest me. There will be a new one out tomorrow,” Woodward said again, adding that in his experience, the Trump administration had not ignored the virus.
“But the bottom line is he told Bob Woodward privately that this was a deadly virus and that it was airborne,” said Brown. “Didn’t the public, didn’t the citizens in your home state of Louisiana deserve to know that as well so that they could change their behavior appropriately to protect themselves?”
Kennedy dismissed the criticism as “this infatuation in Washington with who said what to whom,” and Brown cut him off.
“No, Senator, I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m not going to let you do this. I understand there is so much politics right now, we’re two months away from an election. But this is life and death. You had 5,000 people that have died in Louisiana from coronavirus. Republicans are reluctant, as you are now, to ever criticize this president. But as a human being, how can you be okay with this?”
Kennedy said that he judged Trump more by his actions than his words, and Brown played several clips from Woodward’s recordings as they went back and forth a few more times, with Kennedy repeating the president’s talking point that he was trying to “prevent a panic.”