20 May 2020

A rigid mind

Trump's response to covid-19 has seemed bizarre because it's so obviously contrary to self-interest.  He repeatedly says it will just disappear, perhaps by magic, though common sense would tell him it's unwise to go on record predicting something so unlikely.  He keeps pushing "re-opening" and deprecating precautions, in hopes of reviving the economy, though common sense would tell him that a hugely increased death toll (caused largely by the course of action he urged) would hurt his re-election chances more than the recession would.  He ignores and rejects expert advice, though common sense would tell him that it's of practical use in navigating the crisis which will now define his presidency.

It's actually a huge missed opportunity.  Before covid-19 came along, Trump was already suffering from low approval ratings, a highly-motivated opposition, and the disdain of most of the public outside his own blind cult following.  If he had handled the pandemic well -- as much as Cuomo has in New York, for example -- he could have won widespread acclaim and probably guaranteed his own re-election, even a landslide.  Why didn't he see this?

It's not a matter of pandering to the Trumpanzees and Republican politicians who are downplaying the crisis.  It's they who have followed his lead in doing so, not vice-versa.

This looks to me like something more bizarre and alarming than his standard selfishness and greed.  It looks like a strange kind of mental rigidity, an inability to shift gears.  He was committed to the narrative of a booming economy leading to his re-election, and he can't shift away from that narrative to respond to a change in circumstances even when it would obviously be in his own interest to do so.  He hasn't been able to recognize that the pandemic is both a crisis and an opportunity, one which could doom him if he mishandles it or hugely boost him if he rises to the occasion.  His response has been to try and brush it away as soon as possible, in any way possible, so he can get back to the original narrative about the booming economy.

A president with a normally-functioning mind, even if he were totally venal and concerned only with self-interest, would realize that the virus has irreversibly changed the whole dynamic and that he would now be judged almost entirely on his response to it.  Trump can't seem to do that.

I don't know whether it's an effect of age (although 73 isn't all that old) or just some bizarre mental deficiency.  But it seems crippling since it prevents him from adapting to change and acting in his own self-interest.

Trump has lived most of his life in a position where his wealth and power protected him from suffering serious consequences from making bad decisions.  He became president against the will of the majority of voters due to a black-swan combination of freak circumstances.  He's survived in office because competent and intelligent evil men like McConnell chose, for reasons of their own, to shield him and prop him up.  If Trump had not been born rich, he would probably be homeless or dead by now; he couldn't function in a normal job or a normal life situation which requires normal thinking processes.

We should be able to get him out in November.  It's too bad that so many people will die in the meantime because, largely, of this odd glitch in one man's brain.


Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

"If Trump had not been born rich, he would probably be homeless or dead by now" -- or in prison doing life.

20 May, 2020 06:18  
Blogger Mike said...

"If Trump had not been born rich, he would probably be homeless or dead by now" -- It seems this thought has caught more than my attention because it is very true.

20 May, 2020 12:32  
Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

The thing is, COVFEFE-19 is not like any other President (or person, to be honest). He’s a megalomaniac man-child who was brought up on privilege and knows no love, just money. That’s why he centers his minions’ admiration on his being able to make money (that he’s channeling to his and his close allies’ pockets). He’s the poor man’s image of a rich person.
He’s also stubborn and convinced he knows more than anybody, incapable of reflection and sly but not intelligent, so there’s that...


20 May, 2020 15:06  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Trump is incapable of seeing himself as anything but invincible, and his purported wealth and the sychophants accompanying it have fed into that lie.

We've all seen him bullshit his way through unpleasant situations by saying the exact opposite of the truth. He's done it and doing it through this pandemic. He b.s.ing himself and his cultists into what he needs: People going back to work and rescuing the economy.

The Covid-19 isn't going to cooperate with a b.s.er or anyone. Trump has finally gone up against something he cannot bend to his corrupt will. Unfortunately, people are dying while he tries.

21 May, 2020 07:47  
Blogger jono said...

I did hear an interesting analogy the other day. When there was a problem on Gilligan's Island the characters went to the professor for advice, not the millionaire.

21 May, 2020 10:00  
Anonymous Annie said...

Bingo! He is a prisoner of his own thoughts, misconceptions, and misperceptions. The tragedy for us as a nation is that the Republican Senators who could have stopped him and prevented all these unnecessary deaths—to this day—do nothing. A recent model reported 36,000 fewer deaths if there’d been action in March.

21 May, 2020 10:37  
Blogger Martha said...

"If Trump had not been born rich, he would probably be homeless or dead by now" Oh my gosh, yes!

21 May, 2020 18:05  
Blogger Evan said...

I think it's positive thinking / Norman Vincent Peale. If he admits anything bad is happening, he thinks that will cause more of it.

But if he says and thinks happy things, that will magically cause happy things to happen!

Trump was raised in Norman Vincent Peale's church and is a big positive thinker. Weird to think he believes in anything....but positive thinking Christianity is basically worshipping yourself.

Oh hey, even CNN had something on this!

21 May, 2020 21:21  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

I was thinking the same thing. Trump could have had more of a following if he had been smart about this whole Coronavirus thing but he blew it.

22 May, 2020 12:46  
Blogger Jack said...

I sure hope we can send him packing in November. I just wish I was more confident that this would be the outcome.

23 May, 2020 07:17  
Blogger chrisanthemama said...

ACCURATE. that is all.

24 May, 2020 18:51  

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