The denouement of Donald Trump’s shambolic and dangerous presidency intensified with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting calamitous economic fallout, twin crises managed more adroitly and seriously by the Chinese rather than the American Government.
Trump’s catastrophic failure to confront the scourge is one of the most monumental failures ever by an American President despite his self-congratulatory rants and sycophantic enabling by supporters and a Republican establishment cowed by his vicious bullying.
The likely end of Trump’s presidency was displayed in grand relief in two series of events or melodramas in what may literally and figuratively be the autumn of his presidency.
The first series of events were the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the rapid nomination of Federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the former.
The second series, still unfolding, is Trump’s personal health battle and accompanying farcical, dangerous and maniacal selfishness after being infected by a virus which penetrated the sealed bubble and bulletproof protections of the American presidency.
Justice Bader Ginsburg, a devotee of opera and theatre, appreciated the power of counterpoint or contrapuntal movements in the arts and in law. In life and in death, she proved the ultimate counterpoint to Donald Trump.
She was a woman of high intellect, unimpeachable integrity, deeply empathetic and compassionate, committed to the dignity of all, humble, secure in her person, opposed to racism and white supremacy, a champion of LGBTQ rights and decent in her public and private life.
On the day her flag-draped casket was received at the US Supreme Court, America’s highest temple of justice, her former clerks solemnly lined the front steps at the entrance of the neoclassical white marble edifice as honorary pallbearers.
Dressed in black, against the gleaming white structure, the clerks resembled a Greek chorus. In the ancient Greek tragedies, comedies and satyr plays, the chorus serves as “a homogeneous, non-individualized group of performers, who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action.”
The chorus, usually masked, as were the clerks because of the pandemic, offer the audience information needed to follow the performance. Before and following her death, Bader Ginsburg’s former clerks and other admires provided a near encyclopedia of eulogies for their late mentor.
Her former clerks also reminded the nation of the values and legacy of Justice Ginsburg and her respect for the rule of law, the American Constitution and her lifelong quest for justice, much of which has been thrashed and dangerously undermined by Trump and his enablers during the past four years.
When Trump appeared at the Supreme Court to pay his respects to Bader Ginsburg, whose casket was on a caisson as she lay in state, he was wildly booed and mocked by many of the public mourners who came to pay tribute to the deceased icon and champion of equality who gave most of her life to public service.
Within hours of Ginsburg’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom House of Representative Speaker Nancy Pelosi has often sneeringly derided as Darth Vader, offered his latest grand hypocrisy.
On March 16, 2016, seven months plus before that year’s US presidential election, then President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to serve on the Supreme Court, replacing Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.
McConnell refused to hold hearings, insisting such a nomination should not come in an election year and that the next President should chose the replacement. Then presidential candidate Donald Trump happily agreed with McConnell.
But unsurprisingly, the two men quickly agreed to push through a Supreme Court nominee mere weeks before the November 3 poll.
Donald Trump’s presidency is now much more than grand hypocrisy as cavernous as the Grand Canyon. It is more than earth-shattering irony. America is in the bowels of deep tragicomedy, farce and parody.
The festive White House ceremony celebrating the nomination of Mrs. Coney Barrett may have been a super spreader event of the COVID-19 virus. Gathered there were the political high priests and priestesses of white privilege, gloating at the prospect of packing the Supreme Court with an ideological confrere.
Unmasked and not physically distant, the assembled elite, with the extraordinary powers of the American government in their possession, were brimming with hubris, even as a virus they could not see and which many did not take seriously enough, was about to upend and paralyze the work of the most powerful office complex in the world.
Where, when and how Donald Trump became infected by a virus he may have been bound to catch because of his recklessness, is unknown to the public.
People of goodwill, including Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, all want Trump and all those affected by the virus, to recover. One imagines Trump would not have been as kind or solicitous as Biden had the latter tested positive. Nor would Trump have likely pulled negative ads as did the Biden campaign.
Meanwhile, the public melodrama that was about to unfold, commencing with Trump’s flight for medical care to the Walter Reed National Military Center, continues to unfold like a reality TV show from which, unlike The Apprentice, Trump is the star but is not benefitting.
The Walter Reed medical campus, the largest such complex in the United States, is named in honour of Major Walter Reed, MD. (1851-1902). Reed was a US Army physician, pathologist and bacteriologist who specialized in, of all fields – epidemiology.
A man of science, Reed confirmed the theory of Carlos Finlay, a Cuban doctor, that yellow fever was transmitted by a specific mosquito species rather than direct contact with fomites. Reed was renowned for his humanitarianism.
The Walter Reed center is resident in Bethesda, Maryland, which was named after the Pool of Bethesda from the Gospel of John. The Biblical Pool of Bethesda, which means House of Kindness in Hebrew, was a place of healing.
Walter Reed neighbors the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the workplace of the renowned Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, whom Trump has at times sidelined and undermined with his crazy theories about COVID-19.
But even with all of the aforementioned irony, Trump is now in full-blown tragicomedy, farce and parody.
The deadbeat, who has paid little to no income taxes, who continues to hide his tax returns and who scorned Obamacare, is getting the best health care in the world, thanks to American taxpayers, though he wants the Supreme Court to upend Obamacare.
The immigrant-bashing President was in a facility with recent immigrants, with myriad medical expertise, helping to care for American soldiers and also likely Trump.
The Commander-in-Chief, who reportedly described US soldiers as “losers” and “suckers” is being kept alive and protected by those who are sacrificing and putting their lives at risk to help others, including Trump.
The shallow intellect who has denied science was cared for at a leading military medical facility, renowned for its medical breakthroughs, and which is adjacent to the National Institutes of Health, one of the best medical centres in the world. His doctors have also consulted with experts at the renowned Johns Hopkins University.
As the newsmagazine Politico noted: “The President vainly posted a social media video of him returning to the White House to recover from COVID-19, telling people not to fear a disease that caused him to be hospitalised and pumped with experimental therapies by some of the nation’s top doctors.”
The great tragedy is not primarily what Trump has done to himself and his colleagues. The greater tragedy is the hundreds of thousands who have died in America and who will die and the millions infected, the vast majority of whom will never remotely enjoy his level of care.
Newsweek reported on Monday: “Kara Goucher is a distance runner who competed for Team USA at both the 2008 Beijing Summer Games and then again at the 2012 London Games. … In Beijing, she ran the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races, finishing ninth and 10th overall, respectively. In 2012, she competed in the marathon, finishing 11th overall.
“‘Today my 95 (96 next week) year old grandpa was diagnosed with Covid. We have not been able to see or touch him for 7 months. He is a father to me, helping raise me and my sisters after our dad died and introduced me to running. His life is worthy. Please, please wear a mask’, she wrote on Sept. 24.”
As he was leaving Walter Reed, Trump tweeted: “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
Goucher responded: “As my grandfather lies in a bed struggling to take his last breaths due to COVID, I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything more offensive or tone-deaf in my life.”
This is more than tone-deaf or offensive. This is tragedy unleashed upon the American people, aided and abetted by sycophants, the Republican Party, white supremacists and others who have full-throatedly supported or acquiesced to a reality TV star cum lout who has pushed America into a hellish nightmare in service of his maniacal pathologies and concatenation of grandiose lies.
Next week: The Exceptionalism of the American COVID-19 Disaster