The King of Ventilators

 (Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Trump’s whole presidency has been characterized by self-aggrandizement, flip-flops and lies, but his daily pressers during the corona crisis have become a theater of the absurd.  Yesterday the president called CDC Director Redfield to the podium to state that he had been misquoted by the Washington Post as saying that the corona virus would be back in the fall.  Not allowing Trump to bully him into a lie Redfield said that he had been quoted correctly, and he was subsequently cautiously supported by Dr. Birx and more forcefully by Dr. Fauci, while the president stood at the side sputtering ‘but it might not come back.’ So far Redfield still holds his position, unlike the Deputy Assistant Secretary in charge of developing a corona vaccine at the Department of HHS, Dr. Bright, who was demoted, apparently for questioning the effectiveness of chloroquine, a drug Trump – without any evidence – has been promoting as a possible cure for COVID-19.   After having been pushed out of his job Bright filed a whistleblower complaint, but when asked about Bright’s demotion at yesterday’s presser the president said that he had never heard of him.

After having egged on ‘FreedomWorks’ and ‘Tea Party Patriots’ demonstrators to ‘liberate’ their states Trump declared that Americans are very enthusiastic about re-opening the country, but he backtracked when polls revealed that large majorities of both Republicans and Democrats don’t feel that way.  The president even said that the governor of Georgia, although a great guy, made a mistake by going against the directives and allowing businesses like barbershops and massage parlors to open.  Other than for putting his gut feelings up against the knowledge of medical professionals Trump uses the pressers to tout his almost unfathomable achievements.  Since testing is still largely a mess in the US, because the CDC botched the development of a test in February and now at least 90 companies are developing tests, the president’s focus is on the production of ventilators, where the US has done better.  Trump likes to say that the leaders of other countries cannot believe what he has accomplished with ventilators, and when he gets carried away expresses himself with the majestic plural, saying ‘we are the king of ventilators.’

Meanwhile Trump is eyeing a lose-lose situation in November.  If the economy opens up too early and large numbers of Americans keep dying he’ll be blamed, and if the economy doesn’t open up soon enough and large numbers of Americans remain unemployed he’ll also be blamed.  It makes his staff very nervous, and while they are trying to blame an imaginary alliance of China and Joe Biden for all the problems they know that Trump has praised China all through January and February and that even he realizes how dependent the US is on China for medical supplies.

It has often been observed that the self promoting bluster of a pathological narcissist serves the purpose of camouflaging a very insecure and fragile personality, and with Donald Trump that occasionally breaks through.  Normally he takes credit for everything the governors do right and blames them for everything he has done wrong, but yesterday he changed his tone and said ‘I take care of everybody, but nobody takes care of me,’ suddenly baring his needy helplessness.

However revealing, such a glimpse of the president’s very sick mind only lasts a few seconds, and then he is back in his armor, bragging about the most testing in the world, the formidable amount of tariffs paid by China, his ordering the US Navy to ‘shoot down’ Iranian boats that come too close to its vessels, and the suspension of all immigration into the US as a distraction from everything else.

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