PART ONE: CONFUSED
EDITOR’S NOTE: It took a deadly disease that has killed more than 50,000 Americans to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Impeached President Donald J. Trump is seriously confused, bothered and bewildered to the point of destroying a once-great country. Here, The Shinbone Star is proud to reproduce our recent series by staff writer MACinelli as one continuous file.
Listening to Donald J. Trump talk to reporters at COVID-19 Task Force media briefings each day and one word immediately comes to mind to describe his performances: Confused.
At a time when the public wants straight talk, helpful and easily understood facts about the deadly disease and its impact on American life, Trump rambles around the virus topic in a vain attempt to promote his re-election campaign.
Last Thursday, for instance, his nonsensical ravings included an alarming riff about the need for researchers to see if injecting disinfectants directly into the human body might defeat the coronavirus.
With reporters in front of him and public-health experts to his right, Trump provided the following tip:
“So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful, light — and I think you said that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it — and then I said suppose you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that, too. Sounds interesting.
“Then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. Is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside? Or almost a cleaning, ’cause you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it’d be interesting to check that out. So you’re going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds interesting to me, so we’ll see but the whole concept of light. The way it kills in one minute, that’s pretty powerful.”
Right. Inject disinfectant into a human body. Trump framed it as a rhetorical question, just as he did when he promoted hydroxychloroquine as a possible miracle drug to defeat the deadly disease: “Try it,” Trump said then. “What’s the worst that can happen?”
A side note to Trump: Someone could die, you idiot. Let the scientists and medical professionals do their jobs. Please, just shut up and sit down. This is a health-care crisis and there’s a need to save as many lives as possible. This isn’t a fight to save your political hide.
Apologies. We now return to the confused state of Trump’s mind.
Confusion in Trump’s world is a lethal weapon. It’s a product of his believing he has all the answers to all the problems facing the nation and the world. In reality, he is void of any such vast amounts of knowledge, or, for that matter, any common sense.
So, when COVID-19 came calling, all hell broke loose inside Trump’s confused mind. Fighting a deadly disease requires detailed medical and scientific information, targeted research, plus a well-equipped support system to manage the flood of patients in hospitals across the country.
Unfortunately, Trump’s ineptitude creates confusion as he starts, stops, then starts again trying to develop a series of politically motivated actions he hopes to promote during his re-election campaign.
And, politically speaking, China is at the epicenter of Trump’s confusion. At first he said China did good. Now he says China did bad.
Not content with flip-flopping on his China analysis, Trump attacked the World Health Organization. First WHO did good. Now WHO does bad, possibly in concert with China. So he cuts off funding to that organization and launches an investigation of his conspiracy theory.
Confusion reigns at home, too. Trump falsely bragged for weeks about how the U.S. was testing more citizens than any country in the world. Health-care professionals on the front lines, as well as governors across the country, frustratingly stated that the president was lying.
Test kits and the labs to process the tests were in short supply, particularly in hot spots such as New York, New Jersey and Washington state. Tests were not being conducted in numbers anywhere near what Trump was shouting about.
Items as basic as masks to protect front-line heroes ran out in a matter of days. Not his problem, Trump insisted. Go get what you need, governors, and stop your whining. That demand caused more confusion, with states competing against one another and against the federal government for supplies.
What about ventilators, the machines that provide a breath of life for those struggling to live a few more days and possibly survive the disease?
In late March, Trump ordered the federal government to “use any and all authority” to force auto giant General Motors to produce ventilators, TIME magazine reported. But how about this for a confusing fact? Four days after that politically inspired action, Trump and his team hadn’t formally filed a single order for a GM-made ventilator, TIME reported.
Thankfully, governors worked around Trump’s false and confusing statements and managed the ventilator supply issue among themselves or in concert with hospitals across the country. The ventilator shortage eventually worked itself out as the number of critically ill patients began to drop in major cities.
Confusion carried over to dealing with shuttering the nation’s booming economy in order to slow, if not stop, the spread of COVID-19. Trump took no responsibility for shuttering businesses, schools, churches, entertainment venues and ordering the cancellation of large public events. Too much potential political downside, apparently, for his re-election campaign.
Instead, Trump pushed those difficult declarations to the governors. Closures on a state-by-state basis went into effect slowly until finally all 50 states were dealing with a quarantined public through at least May 1, the date for a possible reopening of the nation’s economy set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Ever the opportunist, however, Trump leveraged a restless public — mostly his MAGA-hat-wearing supporters — and said some of the states didn’t need to wait until May 1. He said governors in states where COVID-19 isn’t killing large numbers of the citizenry should consider letting some businesses reopen before the end of April.
The president encouraged protestors to gather outside state capitols if governors in certain states — Democrat-led Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia, in particular — wouldn’t agree to an early reopening date.
Trump supporters turned out draped in campaign regalia with a number of demonstrators toting AK-47s to show how much they wanted businesses reopened, the heck with protecting American lives from the deadly virus.
Wait. The confusion didn’t end with the protestors. Some governors started declaring that they, and only they, would decide when the time would be right to reopen their local economies.
Hold on, Trump shouted during a press room briefing.
“The president of the United States calls the shots,” Trump told reporters. “They can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.”
Confusion supreme. The Constitution doesn’t give any president — let alone the addled Trump — absolute power over the states.
When confronted with constitutional facts, Trump, in his confused and politically motivated state of mind, flipped again, telling reporters indeed the governors would decide when their economies would restart. Except, he confusingly added, he hoped that in states where COVID-19 cases and deaths were trending down, maybe they should reopen before the CDC’s recommended May 1 date.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp — a Republican and staunch Trump supporter, took Trump at his word. Kemp granted permission for tattoo and massage parlors — among other small businesses — to reopen on April 24. Restaurants and other public venues would be allowed to welcome customers back on April 27, he said, with certain guidelines in place.
The confusion continued. Trump told reporters on Thursday during a COVID-19 Task Force briefing at the White House that he didn’t agree with Kemp’s decision. Too soon, he said. He should have taken issuing a reopening order a little slower, Trump said.
Trump’s words and his actions expose just how a confused and criminally oriented mind can contribute to destroying a country.
PART 2: BOTHERED
A rogues’ gallery of news media folks who “bother” Impeached President Donald J. Trump the most would have to include ABC News’ Jonathan Karl and CNN’s Jim Acosta and Kaitlan Collins.
When these veteran White House correspondents for major news networks challenge Trump’s false facts and misrepresentations of where he stands on issues of importance to the American people, he frequently yells “fake news” and calls into question their professionalism.
Late in 2018, it’s important to note, Trump yanked Acosta’s White House press credentials and banished him from the briefing room for continuing to push the “bothered” president to answer questions he desperately wanted to avoid. Trump’s media handlers even doctored a video of the confrontation in a failed attempt to keep the journalist from returning to the briefing room.
For more than three years, Trump has boasted he knows just how to deal with the bothersome mainstream media representatives he falsely accuses of hating him so much they would produce unsourced stories that make him look bad to the American electorate.
Then COVID-19 washed over the country and media confrontations over Trump’s lies and ineptness in handling a national health and economic crisis pushed his “bothered” temperature to the boiling point.
Last week, Karl, ABC News’ White House reporter and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, showcased his “bothersome” personality during a COVID-19 briefing by defiantly challenging Trump’s attack on the news media.
The exchange occurred as Trump was telling reporters in the briefing room:
“You people aren’t satisfied. So let’s say we had 350 million people in the United States. Let’s say you gave every one of those people a test. So you give 350 million people a test 10 times. The fake news media would say, ‘Where’s the 11th time? He didn’t do his job. Trump didn’t do his job.’ Because you have a lot of bad reporting out there. It is very sad.”
That’s when Karl interrupted Trump, objecting that his remark was “not true.”
“You are one of the leaders of the bad reporting,” Trump responded.
“That’s not true,” Karl continued.
This isn’t the only example of Trump letting the “bothered” side of his personality explode into public view. Karl has been on the receiving end of attacks from the president during previous coronavirus task force briefings at which Trump called him a “third-rate reporter” who will “never make it.”
Karl, ever the diplomat, refuses to respond to Trump’s constant media attacks.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of very public attacks from the president. I’ve also been on the receiving end of public praise from the president,” Karl told The Hill in a recent interview. “I think in both cases you need to ignore it. It’s not what matters. What matters is trying to report the facts and being accurate and being fair and asking the right questions. I don’t want to engage in this personal back-and-forth.”
Collins joined Acosta and Karl in the media “rogues’ gallery” in recent weeks as she stood her ground in the face of withering personal and professional attacks from Trump and his communications team.
On Friday, the White House attempted to force Collins to give up her assigned seat and move to the back row of the briefing room. Communications team members, most likely at Trump’s direction, reportedly threatened to get the Secret Service involved if she would not comply.
When the print reporter the White House wanted her to swap seats with refused to budge, they backed down.
Collins has become a fierce challenger of Trump during the daily coronavirus task force briefings. She aggressively pushes back on his most inaccurate comments, unfounded claims and administration missteps. As a result, a “bothered” Trump has, at times, ignored her raised hand and vocal attempts to pose a pointed question he doesn’t want to answer. He has also snapped at her and rudely shut down her line of questioning.
Last week, for instance, CNN reported that the U.S. was monitoring intelligence out of North Korea that Kim Jong-un, its president, was in grave condition following a cardiovascular procedure. But during Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing, Trump disputed the story. “I think the report was incorrect, let me just put it that way,” Trump said.
Collins tried to ask a follow-up question, but was rebuffed by the president.
“So you haven’t made any contact though?” Collins said.
“With who?” Trump asked.
“The North Koreans,” Collins replied.
“I don’t want to say,” Trump shot back.
Collins tried to pursue her line of inquiry, but Trump said, “that’s enough.”
“CNN is fake news,” Trump told Collins. “Don’t talk to me.”
Trump actually turned away from Collins as she tried to ask her question again. When she finished, Trump said, “Okay, next question.”
Being “bothered” by professional journalists such as Acosta, Karl and Collins is another sign of Trump’s weakness, his inability to govern a country where transparency and the people’s right to know what’s happening is a cornerstone of our government.
Trump manipulated reporters during his years as a failed casino owner and struggling real estate developer. He even posed as a public relations personality representing himself in order to get New York and trade publications to produce a false picture of his financial and business wizardry.
Note to Trump: Reporters as talented and serious as Acosta, Karl and Collins will keep bothering you until your lies, mismanagement of taxpayer dollars and inability to unite the country are no longer a serious threat to the U.S. government or the people who fund it with their dedication to the principles on which it was founded.
PART 3: BEWILDERED
Life before the White House was wild and crazy for Impeached President Donald J. Trump, much like a roller coaster ride on Coney Island. Rules for living in the fast lane in the Big Apple? None. He made them up as he flew along city streets by the seat of his ever-enlarging pants.
Nothing in his previous career as a failed casino owner, struggling New York real estate developer and reality television show personality created any bewildering moments for the larger-than-life, man-about-town as he burned through other people’s money to satisfy his latest obsession.
Trump’s first bewildering moment also smacked the nation upside its collective head on Nov. 8, 2016. It was Election Day, the day the man without a plan defied all odds and defeated Hillary Clinton in an historic presidential campaign, unexpectedly snagging the keys to the White House.
Clearly bewildered as reality invaded his fantasy world, Trump told followers that night he hadn’t expected to win. So, the behind-the-scenes story goes, he wondered aloud, “What’s next?”
Yeah, that’s what you want to hear from a person elected to govern a country built on the rule of law as detailed in the Constitution.
Here was someone with a reputation for not reading anything put in front of him, someone who expected — no, demanded — that anyone working for him do what he says and not ask any questions.
Here was someone who values opinions broadcast over a right-wing television network that was firmly aligned with his Republican Party; a network he watched religiously from his gold-plated suite atop Trump Tower in New York City.
Trump’s unexpected Election Day triumph, however, produced a litany of bewildering moments for the man who wants to be king of America, the country he is supposed to govern to the benefit of its people.
Most of these unsettling and often anti-American points in time can be traced to Trump’s disdain for the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law established by the founding fathers. He proudly admits he has never read the document, and he ignores legal counsel on the various articles that define what a president can and cannot do while in office.
Early on in his Oval Office tenure, for instance, he was attacked for not divesting of his Trump Organization holdings while in public office. His decision to not set aside his personal business operations, political opponents argued, violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution that states a president should not profit from holding elective office.
His paraphrased reaction went something like this: “Whadya mean I can’t book rooms at my hotel in Washington, D.C. for foreign ministers scheduled to meet with me in the White House? So what if the money goes into the Trump Organization’s coffers? What’s an emoluments clause? Who cares what it says? I’m president and can do whatever I want.”
No, Trump can’t do whatever he wants. The Constitution doesn’t say anything close to that, which is why he was constantly bewildered when the rule of law was presented to him as a reason why his minions in the executive branch of government — his domain — either couldn’t or wouldn’t do what he said he wanted done. All too often, however, he would then turn to sycophants who looked the other way or broke the law for him.
The emoluments clause argument might have bewildered Trump for a moment, but he continues to pad his pockets as foreign dignitaries seeking favor with his administration book rooms at his Washington, D.C. hotel.
Most frightening for the nation today is Trump’s bewilderment when his medical and scientific team present facts that don’t match the self-serving, political campaign-styled ramblings he provides during televised briefings on COVID-19 from the White House press room.
Last week, for instance, The Wall Street Journal quoted Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is part of the executive branch of government, when he said that COVID-19 could “return in the fall and it could be even more difficult than the current outbreak.”
Trump apparently was bewildered about Redfield saying something to a mainstream news organization that contradicted Trump’s earlier statement on the topic:
“If we have embers of corona coupled with the flu, that’s not going to be pleasant, but it’s not going to be what we’ve gone through in any way, shape, or form. It’s also possible it doesn’t come back at all.”
Trump’s bewilderment apparently lasted only as long as it took for him to “invite” Redfield to Thursday’s COVID-19 media briefing to “correct” what the Journal had reported him as saying, even though Redfield was echoing what Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had said earlier in the week.
It’s clear from his words and actions — most troubling during the COVID-19 pandemic and national economic crisis — that Trump remains in a New York state of mind. After three-plus years of trying to manage the executive branch of the U.S. government as he did with his bankrupt casinos and struggling real estate operations, Trump frequently is bewildered that he can’t do what he wants, when he wants.
And when he gets surprised by people in his administration doing their jobs at the highest levels of their profession, he seems bewildered that those appointees and/or career government service folks aren’t doing things as he would, or that they aren’t loyal to his point of view.
For instance, Trump’s recent attacks on inspectors general in various departments of the executive branch created a call by congressional committee chairs for protection of inspectors general from retaliation by the president for uncovering mismanagement or wrongdoing inside his administration.
When bewilderment turns into retaliation, the rule of law is threatened.
The executive branch is not the Trump Organization. It’s not operated out of a gilded penthouse atop Trump Tower, but from the people’s house — the White House.
No person in or out of government service should be told that he or she must do or say anything a president wants done, especially when it’s illegal.
The bottom line here is that the government of the United States was designed to provide life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all its citizens. Not just Donald Trump.
Trump is confused, bothered and bewildered to an extreme. He is a clear and present danger to the country.
His management style is designed for a business where he rules the roost. He doesn’t belong in the White House, ignoring the concerns and needs of this nation’s people.