38 votes

This is Trump’s fault: The president is failing, and Americans are paying for his failures

This Is Trump’s Fault: The president is failing, and Americans are paying for his failures.

This is a blunt and brutal assessment of Trump's performance during the coronavirus pandemic. The writer holds no punches, and uses no weasel words.

21 comments

  1. [2]
    jprich
    Link
    Gotta say, I really enjoyed that. Shame that even if I sent it to people who support him they wouldn't read or believe it.

    Gotta say, I really enjoyed that.

    Shame that even if I sent it to people who support him they wouldn't read or believe it.

    10 votes
    1. andre
      Link Parent
      You could try to preface it with David's background as a lifelong Republican and former speechwriter for GWB, but I'm inclined to agree with your instincts.

      You could try to preface it with David's background as a lifelong Republican and former speechwriter for GWB, but I'm inclined to agree with your instincts.

      5 votes
  2. JXM
    Link
    I agree that a large portion of this is Trump's fault. But he's just the current face of the trend of slashing welfare and disaster preparedness programs that would have helped to prevent this...

    I agree that a large portion of this is Trump's fault. But he's just the current face of the trend of slashing welfare and disaster preparedness programs that would have helped to prevent this from being as massive a disaster that it has become. Republicans (and to a lesser extend Democrats for not standing up to the Republicans) have been slowly dismantling the systems that could have prevented this since the 1980s.

    I live in Florida, where our governor didn't issue a stay at home order until last week. He also left ample exemptions for religious services and gun stores, so as not to upset the extremely red panhandle area. So while leadership from the White House might have helped to stem the spread, it can't all be placed at Trump's feet.

    The crazy thing is that if the stay at home orders work and stop the spread, then Trump can simply say, "See, I was right. It isn't that bad!" and his base will believe him and only grow more confident in his leadership skills.

    I do wish that more "popular" news sites like The New York Times and CNN would stop mincing words and just start using the straightforward, no bullshit language that David Frum uses here. By giving both "sides" of an issue equal weight when one is clearly wrong, they legitimize both sides in a way that isn't good.

    It's been interesting to see Frum transform from one of the biggest proponents of George W. Bush's policies to one of the most prominent Republican critics of Donald Trump. It doesn't absolve him of his past sins, but at least he's has a moral line somewhere.

    I miss the days when the main difference between Republicans and Democrats was how much taxes someone should pay, not whether or not they believed in something as fundamental as science.

    8 votes
  3. [17]
    skybrian
    Link
    Well, no, it is not solely the president's fault, because the president is not the only one with agency. How many states were prepared for this? How many hospitals? For example, when California...

    Well, no, it is not solely the president's fault, because the president is not the only one with agency. How many states were prepared for this? How many hospitals?

    For example, when California abandoned its pandemic stockpile in 2011, it was not Trump's fault.

    7 votes
    1. [4]
      Omnicrola
      Link Parent
      While I do agree that Trump is not the only one who has messed up here, that should not transform into a whataboutism argument. For the vast vast majority of the things that the Trump...

      While I do agree that Trump is not the only one who has messed up here, that should not transform into a whataboutism argument. For the vast vast majority of the things that the Trump administration is responsible for (leading, coordinating with states, maintaining stockpiles, communicating clearly and accurately, etc) in a pandemic scenario, they have failed by such a wide margin it is tragic.

      13 votes
      1. [2]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        I agree with all of this except the whataboutism charge. We should be thoughtful enough to say that it is true that the Trump administration's response was mostly inept (there are many...

        I agree with all of this except the whataboutism charge. We should be thoughtful enough to say that it is true that the Trump administration's response was mostly inept (there are many well-documented examples), but there are also many things that went wrong outside the federal government.

        Classic whataboutism is an attempt to distract by bringing up an unrelated bad thing, but we are still talking about the pandemic.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          Comment deleted by author
          Link Parent
          1. skybrian
            Link Parent
            We could also compare a lot of other things about how countries responded to the pandemic. Some reasons they have different responses include geography (being an island helps), population density,...

            We could also compare a lot of other things about how countries responded to the pandemic. Some reasons they have different responses include geography (being an island helps), population density, differences in health care systems, previous experience with SARS, previous cultural expectations about wearing masks, differences in culture like handshakes versus bowing, relative trust in government and in experts, wealth and inequality, legal traditions like federalism, cultural cohesiveness, and so on.

            The current leadership matters, but a lot of other differences matter too.

            I think there is a difference between having a focus and oversimplifying by being single-issue. I would have been satisfied if the author of the article had taken a couple of paragraphs putting this into context, before then going on to say, okay, putting that aside, now we're going to talk about the US federal response and what Trump did wrong.

      2. arp242
        Link Parent
        I don't agree it's a "whataboutism"; the article claims, among other things, that "The utter unpreparedness of the United States for a pandemic is Trump’s fault." while actually, this is much more...

        I don't agree it's a "whataboutism"; the article claims, among other things, that "The utter unpreparedness of the United States for a pandemic is Trump’s fault." while actually, this is much more complex.

        I've never really seen governments being well-prepared for a rare event, ranging from the current pandemic to stuff like snow in countries where it only snows once every decade. All sorts of reasons for this, and there is plenty of blame to go around surrounding the preparation.

        There are plenty of things to blame Trump for – and the article points out many of them quite well – but I don't think you can blame the unprepardness on Trump, not fully anyway. In fact, I would argue it's dangerous to do so, since it won't be conducive in fixing the systemic issues.

        1 vote
    2. [8]
      Kuromantis
      Link Parent
      IIRC he was the one who denied help to governors when they needed it in the pandemic and his administration cut funding for a pandemic control agency so he shares a large part of the blame.

      IIRC he was the one who denied help to governors when they needed it in the pandemic and his administration cut funding for a pandemic control agency so he shares a large part of the blame.

      8 votes
      1. [7]
        skybrian
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Yes, part of the blame. But the states could have been prepared anyway. After this is over, when we look at what should be improved to make sure nothing like this happens again, the problems to be...

        Yes, part of the blame. But the states could have been prepared anyway.

        After this is over, when we look at what should be improved to make sure nothing like this happens again, the problems to be fixed won't be just be at the federal level.

        Investigators looking at what caused an accident typically use a Swiss cheese model to find all the things that could have prevented an accident, but didn't.

        2 votes
        1. [6]
          goodbetterbestbested
          Link Parent
          Just at a semantic level let's clear something up: Saying "This is Trump's fault" is not equivalent to saying "This is all Trump's fault."

          Just at a semantic level let's clear something up:

          Saying "This is Trump's fault" is not equivalent to saying "This is all Trump's fault."

          8 votes
          1. [4]
            Turtle
            Link Parent
            Yes it does? "This is Trump's fault" pretty clearly places the blame entirely on Trump.

            Yes it does? "This is Trump's fault" pretty clearly places the blame entirely on Trump.

            3 votes
            1. [3]
              TheJorro
              Link Parent
              No, semantically the "all" would be required to make that the explicit and only possible interpretation to that degree. As it stands, this renders him the figurehead but not the sole owner.

              No, semantically the "all" would be required to make that the explicit and only possible interpretation to that degree. As it stands, this renders him the figurehead but not the sole owner.

              6 votes
              1. [2]
                Turtle
                Link Parent
                If I were to say "this is your fault", than "this" being partially your fault or mostly your fault do not seem to be logical interpretations. On the other hand, I don't think it is necessary to...

                If I were to say "this is your fault", than "this" being partially your fault or mostly your fault do not seem to be logical interpretations. On the other hand, I don't think it is necessary to qualify that "this" is all your fault for that to be a reasonable interpretation. So while it is true that "all" is required for the latter to be the only interpretation, I think it's pretty clear which is the most natural and logical based on what is written.

                2 votes
                1. TheJorro
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  That all depends on the context. If the "this" is a spill on the floor from factors entirely of my own doing (improper vessel, overfilled, kept too near a counter), then it can be taken in that...

                  That all depends on the context. If the "this" is a spill on the floor from factors entirely of my own doing (improper vessel, overfilled, kept too near a counter), then it can be taken in that way that suggests that "this" is entirely my own fault. Who else was there to share in that blame?

                  But if "this" is the result of a social policy and I am the leader of the group that put it out, then it can't be taken that exact same way because there are obviously going to be a number of different people and factors at play here. As the figurehead, I would shoulder the brunt of it. But no reasonable line of thought would place the figurehead is the only person involved in something that complex.

                  English is an extremely interpretive language, and it can't reasonably said that such a pithy line carries such a concrete and specific meaning unless it is heavily qualified to mean only and exactly that, to the point of approaching legalese.

                  This is the inverse of when so many bad faith actors in Ontario, Canada wanted to put forward the idea that a convicted Deputy Minister wrote the entire 2016 educational curriculum so they could justify that it should be repealed. He was the figurehead and they wanted to assign him sole responsibility even though, by no rational line of thought, was that possible.

                  4 votes
          2. skybrian
            Link Parent
            I'm not sure there's a distinction in everyday English? Finding a single scapegoat to blame, to the exclusion of all others, is very common.

            I'm not sure there's a distinction in everyday English? Finding a single scapegoat to blame, to the exclusion of all others, is very common.

            1 vote
    3. [2]
      psi
      Link Parent
      I agree, but that's a rather pedantic distinction to make. No reasonable person would put the blame solely on Trump, including the author of the article. In fact, he says as much: Certainly you...

      I agree, but that's a rather pedantic distinction to make. No reasonable person would put the blame solely on Trump, including the author of the article. In fact, he says as much:

      That the pandemic occurred is not Trump’s fault.

      Certainly you can't blame Trump for the CDC's testing failures or for Georgia Gov Brian Kemp not knowing until last week that asymptomatc people can spread the coronavirus. But what we can do is imagine an alternate world where nearly anybody else is President right now. If Mike Pence, Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, or Ted Crux were President, do we really think they would have handled this crisis just as poorly? Hell, if your partner or closest friend or neighbor's college senior were in charge, do you think they would have done such a piss-poor job? So much of this crisis was exacerbated by Trump's narcissism and his refusal to see this pandemic as anything greater than a PR problem for him.

      And if ultimately we conclude that this crisis is significantly worse because of our current President, then whose fault is that besides the President's?

      6 votes
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        While I do think Trump was a particularly poor leader and almost anyone else would have done somewhat better, I don't think we should conclude that, had anyone else been president, things would...

        While I do think Trump was a particularly poor leader and almost anyone else would have done somewhat better, I don't think we should conclude that, had anyone else been president, things would have been fine, so the only thing that went wrong was that we elected the wrong president.

        We should be looking for things that went wrong at every level.

        For example, I think we should be asking fundamental questions about how our health care system is organized. Even "Medicare for All" is not right, because Medicare is still pay-per-procedure. This is like funding the police by how many tickets they write, or funding the fire department based on how many fires they put out, or the military based on how many wars they fight.

        If we want our hospitals to be prepared when a crisis hits, they need stable funding based on the population they serve, along with better planning for surge capacity.

        2 votes
    4. [2]
      envy
      Link Parent
      California has to balance its budget. The federal government does not, and has not. I'm not sure why you are picking on California. California was slow, but a hodge podge of state based lockdowns...

      California has to balance its budget. The federal government does not, and has not.

      I'm not sure why you are picking on California. California was slow, but a hodge podge of state based lockdowns is entirely ineffective, this sort of thing needs to be led at a federal level. Trump still hasn't used the presidential pulpit to lock down the country.

      4 votes
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        It's just one example I remembered of something that could have been done differently. I agree that California's response was better than most, but we can still look at what we should have done...

        It's just one example I remembered of something that could have been done differently. I agree that California's response was better than most, but we can still look at what we should have done differently. Our state government still has agency, even with budget constraints.

        I am saying that when we look at how the US was caught unprepared and what to fix, we should look at all our failures. The author of the Atlantic article is pushing a partisan fantasy where only Republicans are to blame and no Democrats did anything wrong. Trump certainly made it worse, but many things were already wrong before Trump was elected.

        3 votes
  4. patience_limited
    Link
    There are absolutely aspects of this crisis that Trump and Trumpism are making worse, but many of these problems are the culmination of long-term trends courtesy of the Republican Party and its...

    There are absolutely aspects of this crisis that Trump and Trumpism are making worse, but many of these problems are the culmination of long-term trends courtesy of the Republican Party and its feudalist sponsors, as well as incorrect allocation of national security risk management resources.

    6 votes