There are a lot of coronavirus cartoons, but, while Mike Smith hasn’t taken the time to draw a virus or put a mask on anyone, I think he’s done the best job of capturing the issue.
And I will defer the job of commentary to WashPost columnist Catherine Rampell, who begins a brilliant essay thus:
It mattered when the White House press secretary, in his first day on the job, lied about President Trump’s inaugural crowd size.
It mattered when Trump said that wind turbines cause cancer.
It mattered when he claimed that a half-dozen steel mills had reopened when they hadn’t. It mattered when he promised that his health-care plan (and his infrastructure plan and his wife’s immigration records) would be released in “two weeks,” and those weeks passed without such promises materializing.
Her point being that credibility is a leader’s greatest tool and that, when you’ve lost that — or, in this case, never established it — you not only lack the ability to lead but you risk having people assume that whatever you say is the opposite of what is true.
Parsing over trivia is a fault, of course: I had a friend who applied for a job in Japan and said he had graduated in May, only to have their document search show that the degree was officially awarded the first week of June.
“A person who would lie about something so small would lie about anything,” they declared.
But as Smith and Rampell both note, Trump lies about everything, large or small.
It’s such a part of his personality that you have to assume he’s gotten away with it all his life.
Not simply as an adult, lying to banks until only Deutsche Bank would give him money, but earlier, we can guess, lying at his military school about missing term papers which he definitely turned in, but they must have lost.
We’re all in that position of looking at him across the desk and knowing damn well he’s lying but not being able to prove it.
Only now, instead of his parents threatening to pull him and his tuition out of school if we punish him, we’ve got Mitch McConnell covering for the little darling.
I sure wish I shared Drew Sheneman’s opinion, but I don’t.
Or, at least, I wish I thought someone who had previously not wanted to vote for the “wrong” Democrat would be swayed by Trump actually, genuinely, astonishingly declaring the pandemic a “hoax.”
But people want comfort, and not just the uneducated rubes that suburban highbrows desperately want to believe are Trump’s only supporters.
In looking for Rampell’s column from Thursday, I found it had fallen out of sight on the WashPost website, and that the top story of the day is a ridiculous personal essay by a fellow who has a mild case of the virus, headlined I-kid-you-not
I have the coronavirus. So far, it isn’t that bad.
Just before the end of his cheerful don’t-worry-be-happy thumbsucker, he does concede
I have been relatively fortunate: At least six Diamond Princess passengers have died from the virus, of the around 705 passengers who caught it. But coronavirus doesn’t have to be a horrible calamity.
Well, yes, one must indeed admit that being somewhat ill is relatively fortunate, next to being bloody well dead.
I’m less appalled by the essay itself than by the fact that it has climbed to the top of the “Most Read” list and Rampell’s well-reasoned warning is not just lower down but gone.
It gets worse.
Michael de Adder isn’t the only cartoonist to point out that Trump has put someone in charge of fighting the disease who, as governor of Indiana, relied on hopes and prayers to fight HIV.
But even that isn’t the bottom of this barrel:
There is a completely bogus story going viral on the Intertubes that says 38% of people think you can get the virus from drinking Corona beer.
It’s not just a misinterpretation. It’s a damned lie, beginning to end.
Everyone’s laughing about what an idiot you’d have to be to think there was a connection between the beer and the virus, but they’re apparently unaware of what an idiot you’d have to be to accept that stupid survey as accurate.
The next question being how many media outlets passed it along because they believed it, versus how many suspected it was bogus but didn’t care because they wanted the clicks.
So, yeah, Dear Leader is a pathological liar, and, as Rampell notes, we’ve known that from his first week in office, if we didn’t pick up on it during the campaign.
But he’s sure not working alone.
Juxtaposition of the Day
I was going to run this Tom Toles cartoon alone, but de Adder — perhaps because he’s Canadian — gets a second appearance today by covering the topic from a slightly different perspective.
Trump’s astonishing, pathological lack of empathy is as much a part of his persona as his inability to tell the truth, and he’s confirmed Toles’ notion that he seems to put the impact on stock markets above the human cost of the disease.
But de Adder contrasts him with the rest of the world, citing his astonishing ability to defy the old saying, “The key to success is sincerity. If you can fake that you’ve got it made.”
Trump not only doesn’t fake it, but, when his handlers insist he try, he blunders through it doing things like tossing paper towels to hurricane victims.
And since de Adder gets a second appearance today, let’s give Toles another shot as well:
Be as appalled as you like, but people want to hear that the coronavirus isn’t so bad after all, and they enjoy scoffing at fools who think you get it from Mexican beer.
It’s not that far from wanting to believe it’s a hoax, and from voting accordingly.
I’d as soon believe Trump as rely on the polls.
In honor of the day
Like Agnes, I don’t know how we ever got in such a mess.
I’m blaming the Astronomer Royal.