Bob Franken




What is it about the all-importance of Thomas Jefferson’s “informed consent” in a democracy that President Donald Trump doesn’t understand? How about Abraham Lincoln’s “of the people, for the people, by the people”?
Compare that with Trump’s “I didn’t want to create panic” admission to journalist Bob Woodward as an explanation why he flat out lied to the American people from the very beginning about the severity of Covid-19, even though he knew full well early on that the coronavirus was deadly serious. Why did he declare that the organism would simply “disappear” at the first sign of warm weather?
“I always wanted to play it down,” he said to Woodward, and play it down he did … from his reassuring initial public comments to his resistance to wearing a face mask, which persists to this day, to his whipping up outrage over efforts to contain the organism by shutting down the economy, to the lies he tells to supporters at every turn that things are getting better. All while the United States leads the world in cases of Covid at more than 6 million and approaching 190,000 deaths.
What possessed him to do 18 candid interviews with Bob Woodward? That one is easy. He honestly believed that he could charm Woodward into writing a favorable book about his years in office. Instead he got what he describes as “a political hit job,” a book that is scathing. Not only about the pandemic, but everything that Donald Trump has tried to do.
Lastly, why did Woodward wait seven or eight months to disclose the contents of this interview? Was he saving them for his profitable book? He did provide an opening for Trump to deflect the criticism now:
He “had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives?”
Good question. Whatever the explanation, Donald Trump wasn’t able to dismiss the journalism with his usual “fake news” and “hoax” denials. He is being done in by his real voice.
As for his explanation that he didn’t want to cause a “panic” or a “frenzy,” what is he doing right now trying to scare the daylights out of white people by casting Black protestors as a menace and suggesting “thugs” and “anarchists” will take charge if Joe Biden is elected? And move out to the suburbs and do heaven knows what.
Joe Biden, his Democratic challenger for re-election, jumped all over the Woodward revelations as evidence the Trumpster was guilty of “dereliction of duty.”

September has not been a good month for Trump. In addition to the Woodward book, which goes way beyond the coronavirus to quoting those around him as questioning his competence or motivations in so many of his manic adventures, there is the Michael Cohen book. Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer who was imprisoned, describes him as “a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man.”
And let’s not forget the Atlantic article where reporter Jeffrey Goldberg paints a word picture of a president who publicly embraces the military while privately describing the troops as “losers” and “suckers,” even those who have died in war. He hasn’t plausibly denied that scandal. Perhaps because he is bouncing from one personal crisis to another.
Lest we overlook another scandal that has erupted at the Department of Homeland Security. A whistleblower, Brian Murphy, who used to head the DHS intelligence unit, says he was ordered to downplay reports that focused on Russia misinformation to influence the election and another report emphasizing the threat of white supremacists. Murphy charged his higher-ups with not wanting to displease the boss, because the Russians and white supremacists are important parts of his constituency.
Through it all, that “base” has been loyal. We will find out Election Day whether his support has been damaged or eroded, thanks to the daily tidal waves of revelations.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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