Can Our Political Leaders Still Reassure Us?

Mar 13, 2020 · 202 comments
Eric Clay (Ithaca NY)
Politicians are neither in the practice of grounding hope in experience or in making shrewd assessments of reality. That's the work of religious leaders and scientists. Rarely in history have politician been able to cross disciplines. We are foolish to expect otherwise.
Alan (McGovernville)
What we are seeing is an absence of leadership not a situation where reassurance is impossible. FDR first and foremost, Eisenhower, Obama. This is a small unserious man, this Donald Trump, a misanthropic loser’s idea of a winner.
TM (Philadelphia)
It takes an adult to reassure us. Look locally for that.
JBC (Indianapolis)
The President lacks empathy. The President lacks compassion. The President lacks emotional intelligence. The President lacks respect for science. The President lacks accountability. The President lacks a moral compass. The nation suffers.
MIMA (heartsny)
Reassure us? The president did not even thank all the healthcare workers in this country yesterday when he spoke in The Rose Garden. He introduced corporate representatives, members of his staff - but left out the frontline caregivers! Not one word of gratitude for putting their lives and the lives of their family members on the line. He’s a disgrace. So sick of him.
Wayne Karberg (Laramie, WY)
Anyone else feel that this administration is using it's "abilities" to supress the number of reported COVID-19 cases? It ain't gonna work...
Railbird (Cambridge)
The sad evolution of leadership: Truman: “The buck stops here.” Trump: “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
Leslie (Philadelphia)
If people don’t feel reassured by our leaders, perhaps it would be helpful to have those who are trusted make public service announcements calming fears. I remember Tom Hanks doing this on SNL when Trump was elected. Although it was humorous, I really did feel reassured. Some others who would be reassuring for me: the Obamas, Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, George Stephanopolis, Lester Holt, anyone from the Today show, Jerry Seinfeld, John Mulaney, Stephen Colbert, John Stewart (please excuse spelling errors),
Charles Packer (Washington, D.C.)
I suspect that we may have to wait until November, the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage, to appreciate fully the Brit-centric orientation of this piece.
Charles Packer (Washington, D.C.)
I suspect that we may have to wait until November and the 400th anniversary celebration of the Mayflower voyage to appreciate fully the Anglophilia of this piece.
Political leaders can inspire us when they consistently tell the truth, even if the truth is ugly. Being a good orator is good, being an honest communicator is better. Trump is neither. Now he's "the boy who cried wolf," and even if anything he says is true, only his worshipful cult believes it (unless wiser and more credible people back it up). On that topic, yesterday's Rose Garden event was painful. Yes, Fauci and other public health experts are truth-tellers, even though constrained by the circumstances, but I've seen less over-the-top praise sessions in over-the-top religious services! So here's the truth: Trump's mumble on Tuesday would have been a joke if it wasn't so serious. His reboot yesterday was spoon fed to him by wiser people than he, although they had to feed it to him in a torrent of praise, much of it forced. His usurpation of credit for action, when in fact his beloved stock market jammed him into a corner, was laughable; and his refusal to acknowledge any responsibility for worsening the situation is tragic. Leaders lead; Trump is simply a rabble-rouser. In times of crisis like this, Trump is the inverse of leadership.
David Gage (Grand Haven, MI)
I have one question: What does the now unnecessary oil reserve have to do with this virus? Can anyone explain Trump's comment related to this? Maybe he does have connections in Saudi Arabia where he can help them by spending our money on something which makes no more sense than our involvement in their national security which, as far as I know, has nothing to do with this virus.
Carla (New York City)
When I see his yes men and women standing behind him nodding yes to his every falsehood, my fear level goes up exponentially. Not a hope in the world that he will ever rise to the occasion. We must look to our governors and mayors because our national government is a failure. The primary person showing leadership, as usual, is Nancy Pelosi, bless her heart!
JAM (Florida)
Has there ever been a leader of a great nation so ill prepared for a crisis? Trump's personality, character, reputation and inexperience all combine to demonstrate the complete absence of leadership in this crisis. His first response to the crisis is (like a child's) denial that he was responsible for anything. He next blames others for his administration's failures to confront the crisis until it cannot be ignored. He then brags about what a great job his administration is doing despite the evidence to the contrary. He shows his extraordinary lack of empathy for the American public by denouncing the passengers of a cruise ship for getting the virus. He then closes the border to our European allies and claims (against all expert advice) that this will alleviate the problem. Finally, under pressure, he proposes some limited restrictions that will probably be insufficient to mitigate the potential infection rate. With leadership like this, we need the real leaders, our medical experts and first responders, our state & local officials and the general public, to step up and provide the leadership solely lacking in this White House.
kirk (montana)
Reassurance requires trust and trust requires that you do not lie to people or use your office for selfish ends. I cannot trust anything that djt says or any other republican who has backed him so thoroughly and covered up for his lies. These people do not deserve their station in life. They need to be removed from office and replaced with honest, hard-working Americans.
Raven (Earth)
Is this a joke? Anyone who looks to "political leaders" (an oxymoron if there ever was one - think, "military intelligence") for "reassurance", whatever that even means, needs a hard and fast reality check. In two weeks tops, this whole panic-inducing nonsense will all be over. Get a grip and think critically. People who "vote" are stocking up on toilet paper, of all things. That should tell any semi-smart person that we're now in the theater of the absurd. The only good thing that, hopefully, will come out of this is that people will start washing their hands after using the toilet and stop wearing flip flops (they are disgusting [and grossly unsanitary] and your feet are disgusting). Grow up.
Gregory (Washington DC)
In the past, yes. Even W and Rudy we serious when it got bad. This is a three ring circus. Absolutely I responsibility assumed by the Commander in Chief. Pathetic.
M. Natália Clemente Vieira (South Dartmouth, MA)
Can we believe a man who has told 16,000 plus lies in 3 yrs? Can we believe a man who hasn’t taken responsibility for anything in 73 yrs? Today the stable genius (SG) didn’t accept responsibility for his handling of this crisis. He hasn’t appointed component people to head agencies like the CDC. Instead he appointed those who value a religious point view more than facts. Rather than building on the structure that was in place to deal with health crises, he abolished it. He has cut funding for agencies that work to protect us our health and he wants to reduce their budgets again. What has the SG done since China told WHO about the virus on 12/31? What did he do after WHO declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 1/30? Why did his people chose not to use the WHO test that was available by the end of Feb? When asked, his people won’t say. He is failing as a role model on how we should behave at this time. We know that he has been in contact with people who tested positive for the virus but he continues to shake hands and to have public meetings. He needs to follow the example of President Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal. I believe he was the 1st world leader to self-isolate on 3/8. The SG needs to stop talking, self-isolate and let the experts do their jobs! And I don’t know about you, but I need a vacation from him! SEE:
HJS (Charlotte, NC)
When a leader constantly lies to his subordinates it's impossible to rally around him. Integrity and morality is everything. Over time, people who work for a jerk find other jobs. It was sickening today to hear him say he took no responsibility for the failure of the government he leads. And especially sickening were the people standing behind him, most notably Pence, who continue to drink the Kool-Aid. If we can't vote this bunch--the real national emergency--out of office, we'll only have ourselves to blame.
Jeff (California)
Our political leaders could reassure us....If we had any.
Charles Becker (Perplexed)
Trump's so-called presidency is finally over, the victim of low character and gracelessness under pressure ... a self-styled tough guy collapsing before the eyes of the world. I guarantee that Putin and Xi are watching this in disgusted scorn. He's finished, unless the (D)'s resuscitate him.
DL (Berkeley, CA)
Actions matter more than speeches. Lets wait and see what will transpire. It is all speculation at this point.
John H (Texas)
Trump: “I don’t take any responsibility at all.” Any question of whether Trump can “reassure” the nation has, it would seem, been definitively answered. There really isn’t anything more to discuss.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
Once upon a time we had a President, F.D.R., who said, "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days." Fortunately for America and Americans, that President had both credibility and ability. Unfortunately, our current President has neither. We should note, however, that the hyper-partisanship of the electorate, the hyper-partisanship that still believes President Obama is a Kenyan Muslim and that President Trump is right both times when he reverses what he says in 24 hours, preceded President Trump, even preceded President Obama. What is new is the degree to which Congress, especially Republicans, have sold their souls to the lowest ignorant, self-deluding base of their constituency.
Ryo Toyama (Japan)
I think reqirements of leaders is sincerity and charisma. In this case, this sincerity is to citizens, not to his administrations. Trump's speech are mostly made for appealing his accomplishments. Even thogh it might be enough as a manager who persuade shareholders, it is not enough as the a leader of a country. He might have to change his KPI especially in this crisis.
Is anyone else seeing the irony of our most germaphobe president in American history being undone by a pandemic mutation of the common flu? And his political opponent being the most openly touchy candidate in recent memory? Shakespeare himself couldn't make this up.
Steve Singer (Chicago)
Not this man. I lost faith in him many years ago. That, I suppose, makes me an American traitor in his mind. The raw hate shown and his naked rabble rousing during Trump MAGA political rallies, which remind me of Nazi Party rallies, make me wince. I was one of the many millions of fools who thought that he’d never be elected president in the first place, although I suspected that he might slip through, the rest of the country being narrow-minded like it is. I even warned a personal friend by telling her “You had better get used to the name ‘President Trump’”, as if it mattered, or ever will. I live in a notoriously “Blue” city at the top of a notoriously “Blue” state. It didn’t elect him last time and it won’t reelect him next November, no matter what he says. My vote does not matter because it, and the rest of the county, are so politically polarized, divided between “Democrat” and “Republican”, between “Red” and “Blue”. My vote is irrelevant. What’s Blue today will vote Blue tomorrow.
Robert M. Koretsky (Portland, OR)
Trump is not the leader of the USA, he’s a spin doctor that is the mouthpiece for the corporate billionaires who want to suppress the truth. He wasn’t responsible for the slow rollout of testing, or the dismantling of the task force to fight pandemics! What a lie.
Clarence Smythe (Boise)
No they can’t rescue us. They are either incompetent, evil, or do not have the public trust. People with real leadership skills who would be trusted if they spoke out are too cowardly to do so. I am deeply ashamed to be an American. The only greater shame is to be a pedophile.
W.Schafer (NY)
Trump's comment today that he was not to blame for the lack of planning for the crisis, "I didn't do it" on the closing of the Pandemic Office, and “I don’t take responsibility at all" of the lack of sufficient testing for the corona virus, is testament to the bereft morality and leadership of the President and his party...there is no precedent in American history for such fake irresolute and dishonest leadership in a national crisis.
Richard Katz DO. (Poconos Pennsylvania)
absentee ballots or better yet an app
Kally (Kettering)
It was pretty obvious that Trump’s press conference was a direct reaction to the poor reviews he got on his Wednesday address. Well, at least it got them off their you-know-whats. The heavy message of praise threading through this for Trump’s decisive action was a joke. Such sycophants. It almost overwhelmed the action items. He sounded drugged. He introduce the business leaders as “celebrities in their own rights.” Who care about celebrity in this situation?? He introduced Anthony Fauci as “Tony.” He couldn’t say Dr. Anthony Fauci? He just sounds like such a boob, even when speeches are prepared for him. And the fact that he has a staff helping him with all this is more proof of how bad this administration is. They are incompetents. And of course, he blames them for anything that has gone wrong, not stopping to think he’s their boss, so he is 100% responsible for everything that happens under his administration.
Scott Douglas (South Portland, Maine)
Yesterday my wife and I listened to a press conference held by our governor, Janet Mills, and the head of Maine's CDC. Afterward I asked, "How did you get the radio to broadcast from the past?" My point: The governor and her colleague talked plainly but from a basis of knowledge and evidence. They described the situation and the what and why of their plan to address it. Period. No nonsense, no puffery, no self-boosting, no ascribing blame. It was great to listen to an elected official in high office and feel like one responsible adult was addressing other responsible adults.
qisl (Plano, TX)
I was just at the grocery store. It was a madhouse there: people literally closer than 6 feet everywhere. Long lines. Full baskets. Empty shelves. I got the impression, given that I'm in a medium red zip code, that a lot of Trump's supporters realize now that this isn't some Democrat hoax, and that they expect a lock-down/mandatory quarantine any hour. Maybe they are also finally starting to see Trump for what he is.
Steve Singer (Chicago)
@qisl - It’s like that here, too.
Ellen (NY)
Pelosi needs more media time during this. She makes me feel like someone competent is present.
A. Stanton (Dallas, TX)
Twelve very big words: Trump is a much greater danger to this country than this virus.
Steve Singer (Chicago)
@A. Stanton - His obvious unfitness definitely is. Whether it’s perceived as such in our other “Red” states is another question.
Clarence Smythe (Boise)
No doubt. He is the most dangerous living entity in the world today supported only by Republicans and the average American voter. May they all perish in this plague.
Keitr (USA)
Trump is solidifying his place as one of the all-time worst Presidents. He consistently comes across as self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing, and incompetent. He delights in belittling and antagonizing a good part of America and the world. Even worse, he gives the lie to our most cherished image of ourselves, that Americans are somehow above the meanness and pettiness of the world, that we are somehow nobler and wiser, that we're not just another empire falling into disrepute and disgrace.
Sharon (Leawood, KS)
Trump cared more about ensuring he gets the credit - whether deserved or not - as opposed to just giving us the facts and reassuring us that they are taking the crisis seriously and putting the right steps in place. All those people who fawned over him sounded like idiots and humiliated themselves. And let’s face it, the only reason the administration got more aggressive on testing is because Fauci made him look like a boob in front of Congress. All this great American ingenuity and we had nothing to show for it because providing tests meant coronavirus is a real threat.
Steve Singer (Chicago)
@Sharon - President Trump cares about nothing but protecting himself from prosecution after he leaves office. His intention is not ever to leave it. He searches for ways not to leave. He watches his Russian friend President Vladimir Putin closely, President Putin being someone who uses any excuse that he can find not to leave office.
Son Of Liberty (nyc)
People keep criticizing Donald Trump and his administration, but from the very beginning they focused on facts and statistics to hide their culpability. If you don't TEST for Covid-19 you can be factual when you declare, the number of known cases is small. Then as the crisis intensifies you say that it's a "Foreign Virus" and that you have special medical knowledge because your Uncle was a famous MIT scientist. When all of this falls to calm the public, you have Jared Kushner ask Karlie Kloss's father, who IS a doctor, to ask his Facebook group for coronavirus recommendations. Facts are stubborn things.
Steve Singer (Chicago)
@Son Of Liberty - Facts are facts. Truth is truth. Lies are lies. And President Trump is President Trump. Stupid is as stupid does. What you see and hear is what you get.
Riley (Maryland)
From the article: telling the public the truth, lest people begin to tune him out or, worse, make him a figure of mockery.”" This phrase concisely states the cause and effect of Trump's entire past three years
Bill (Durham)
There are no words that Trump could think of or manage to fumble through his lips that could reassure the country. Trump has never reassured anyone in his life, he is all about aggression. Hope is another thing that Trump knows nothing about. It was clear to me in his news briefing today that he views the declaration of a national emergency as a failure rather than as a hopeful thing that will help people get through extraordinary and distressful times.
Steve Singer (Chicago)
@Bill - No. He measured everyone he’s ever dealt with in business for a coffin. He then monetarily killed his counter-parties. He hasn’t changed.
Jeff (California)
@Bill: Trump looked and talked like he was heavily sedated.
Quiet Waiting (Texas)
Perhaps I do not have confidence in presidential assurances because many of the ones I've heard over the past three decades have proven false. And yes, that includes both parties.
Montreal Moe (Twixt Gog and Magog)
Form follows function. I am upset but I know the forces that led to Ronald Reagan and the values and ethics that have given you a Kakistocracy. Like all great Empires the rot grew from within. What was the inspiration to vote for a Ronald Reagan in a nation born of: We the People of the United States , in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. You don't need a lawyer to understand what those words mean least of all Antonin Scalia. The constitution is about the we not the I. When America had its revolution we got most of your conservatives. It was only in my lifetime that they finally left Quebec and just like America we are much the better for their departure. Russia is a big rich conservative Utopia and there are as many Russian citizens who would love the sufferings of liberal democracy.
Ardyth Shaw (San Diego)
The downfall of white America...and it is racism. I am a black woman with much to be proud of in my contribution to my country and community but I know my opinion or status is neither respected or considered by virtue of my ethnicity; that I am a fully functioning and intelligent human being notwithstanding. What a travesty white Americans have placed themselves in for reasons of utter their idiot, failure of a president. My only pleasure is knowing I am black and I have been shut out years ago of any responsibility for this devastation.
Casey (New York, NY)
Sure. Reagan would have ripped out a speech that would have helped. Bill Clinton would have also made us feel better. This particular leader is clearly neurologically challenged, has no filter, and what gets out is, to be charitable, unpleasant even for his supporters. We saw Cuomo and McGreevey fill the void here in NY and NJ.
Sari (NY)
No, of course not. That person I'm the OvalOffice still doesn't understand the severity of this virus. He may read a pre-written script, but with lack of comprehension. He played down the virus for way too long because it would affect his ratings. He just keeps racking up lies and contradictions. How could anyone trust this sort of person. He has never shown the ability to be a leader. His actions over the past few months will prove to be his downfall.
Ardyth Shaw (San Diego)
Steve Singer (Chicago)
@Sari - It’s just a Reality TV show to him, some fake make-believe, and it always will be.
Slann (CA)
"We're doing a tremendous job" (multiple times), and, "I take no responsibility at all" (in reference to the delay and lack of testing capability in both kits and lab capacity). Not to mention shaking hands, touching his face readjusting the microphone multiple times (as did others), and getting defensive about his claim not have been tested himself. We do NOT have a leader in the WH, not even a person who can pretend to be one.
Bramblewitch (Hedge at the Edge)
@Slann His staff spent more time slathering on the accolades to sooth his hurt feelings than they did addressing the specifics of the actual issue, or in communicating the plan going forward. Are they coached and instructed to do that or does it come naturally to the toadies? What point are they trying to make by comparing this to the H1N1 virus? Somebody needs to ask him some more nasty questions. Then maybe hand him a disinfectant wipe for that podium.
J.Sutton (San Francisco)
Wouldn't this be the perfect opportunity for trump to cancel the presidential election! And of course the Republicans will resist any effort to send mail-in ballots to all voters because there's nothing they love more than less voters.
“The Wall Street Journal editorial board, generally supportive of Mr. Trump’s policies if not his rhetoric and personal style, scolded the president for his uninspiring performance, for treating the crisis as mostly a political threat to his own power, for deploying his typical tactics of denying and blaming.” Trump cannot get out of his pea brain. He cannot understand or comprehend his responsibility to reassure rather than, as usual, he passes the buck. He is is incapable of solicitous behavior in this time of fear. His ego centric patterns reassert themselves invariably. Good. The virus will beat him in November.
Ceilidth (Boulder, CO)
I don't look for a president to soothe me, especially when that president is a malignant narcissist who has no empathy for anyone other than himself. I do look for a president to be honest, as accurate as he can be, and to rely on the best medical kand scientific knowledge available. He is completely unable to do any of these things nor can his vice president. It's like having a group of people who have dropped in from the 13th century trying to solve this problem. You wouldn't expect much from them and I don't expect any more from Trump and his ilk than I would of a group of peasants from the 13th century.
WoodyTX (Houston)
Trump says he’s a whiz at virology because his uncle went to Harvard Medical School. This is absolutely loopy to start with. The guy who says he knows it all is living in la la land and has to be dragged kicking and screaming by Congress and the medical experts to do something and demonstrate some leadership. He’s been exposed as incurable incompetent and slow to grasp reality. Many of us knew years ago. I for one think it will be a long hard slog to the end of his term and his Presidency. Let’s just hope he gets out of the way and lets the experts do what’s needed.
Steve Singer (Chicago)
@WoodyTX - Oh, but he’s a very stable genius who knows and understands everything about everything. Didn't you know?
Fintan (CA)
A leader with demonstrated incompetence, a history of repeated lying and visibly poor character cannot reassure. Reassurance requires credibility which is based on demonstrated knowledge, truthfulness and humility. Our president has none of these, and we will pay the price for electing this charlatan in lives and dollars lost over many years.
Jeff (California)
@Fintan Don't call Trump a Leader." A leader leads which is something that Trump lacks the ability to do.
No sane person pays attention to the president. Especially this president.
Pelasgus (Earth)
After a lackadaisical start, I think President Trump now understands the gravity of the crisis. Highly infectious and with a death rate of between two and three percent, if this epidemic is not contained then the US could be looking at millions dead. Even people without the virus could end up dead, accident victims, say, if there are no ICUs available for them. A public awareness campaign to avoid accidents might be a good idea. President Trump’s actions going forward will make or break him at the election.
J.Sutton (San Francisco)
@Pelasgus Maybe he understands the gravity of Covid better now that he's had personal contact with it.
Armo (San Francisco)
@Pelasgus 10 to 1 odds it's the break not the make.
Brooklyncowgirl (USA.)
@Pelasgus Nothing like the impending collapse of the stock market to get a president’s attention. We’ll find out if he actually had a change of heart when he starts tweeting in the wee small hours of the morning.
McGloin (Brooklyn)
The Carona virus is scary. Even scarier, is Trump with emergency powers. The first noun in the Constitution is Union. Trump divides as often as possible. Even during this afternoon's press conference, he couldn't help digs at Obama and other enemies. The Left argues passionately for the principles ratified by super-majorities in the Constitution: Union (solidarity), Justice, Tranquility, defense (not offense), the general Welfare (everyone's well being), Liberty, leaving a sustainable economy and environment for Posterity, and optical equality for all. The Right divides, replaces Justice and Tranquility with unjust laws enforced by violent, militarized police, promotes War, and the special welfare of mega-rich shareholders, measures Posterity with ten thousand trades per millisecond, and is AGAINST EQUALITY. The Right thinks they are "more equal" than the rest of us, and that their wealth is evidence of their superiority. They want to separate the rest of us from them, because we are inferior. They try to make their religion the basis of our laws against the First Amendment. They demand all protections of the Bill of Rights which they claim are mere "technicalities" for the rest of us. They HELP their wannabe King that contradicts, threatens to violate, and violates the Constitution on TV. Those that reject reason (science, facts, math, and logic), and attack the Constitution, are not "reasonable people with whom we happen to disagree." Right divides. Left Unites.
Steve Singer (Chicago)
@McGloin - How does it go? “Divide and conquer.”? Or, “divide and rule.”?
Henry Fernando (Paris)
I listened to *P. trump's news conference today. After a few minutes of VP M. Pence I could not take anymore of it. He was so fawning to his boss it made me sick. Has he no self respect? It was as transparent partisan politics as it gets. Will we ever get back to normal? Will anybody speak to the public at large and not their base? Am I witnessing the USA or N. Korea?
Action (Centennial, CO)
@Henry Fernando What is normal, though? We are 20-years into this century. 8-years of Bush-Cheney, war based on lies, torture, Katrina incompetence, buffoonery on the world stage. 8-years of Obama-Biden. Normalcy? Well sort of. Statesmanship and decorum, adults in the room, but also more wars, more corporate friendly policies. People enjoyed this normal so much that strangely TWO POPULISTS emerged in 2016, and one rolled both parties and the media. And now, 4-years of Donald Trump and...this other white haired guy who will probably be replaced soon. What I'm trying to say is "normal" is gone. And also, "normal" begat the new normal. You can't go back home again, and even if you could, you would end up back at a crossroads. This until we make structural changes. Big changes. Normal ain't gonna git' er done.
Steve Singer (Chicago)
@Henry Fernando - What are you witnessing? You’re witnessing our tragedy.
Mickey McMahon (California)
Trump will never reassure me. I see right through his despicable, lying self. “When people show you who they are, believe them. The first time”—Maya Angelou Here’s trump showing us who he is multiple times: --running away from his flag and country like a coward to avoid the draft lying about bone-spurs --cheating on multiple wives, paying off affairs, and lying about it --using his charity for personal gain, was caught & paid millions in fines --forcing foreign leaders to stain political opponents --paying fines for racism in his NY apts instead of paying the price in court --spewing hate about immigrants but using illegals in his resorts to save costs --lying about the coronavirus and censoring experts from sharing information with the public
Ardyth Shaw (San Diego)
The only thing worse than Trump are the people who silently stood by and allowed it.
Roberta (Kansas City)
I honestly tried to watch Trump's first press conference about the coronavirus with an open mind. As a school psychologist who works in a school district where keeping a sneezing or coughing child home from school is a luxury a lot of working parents can't afford, I really wanted to be reassured that our government was equipped to handle a national health crisis. The only good thing about Trump's responses was that he didn't slur his words for a change. I also heard some useful information about the process of developing a vaccine (as in don't expect one anytime soon), but that didn't come from Trump. Other than that, there was a bunch of confused statements and misleading information from Trump. He tried to blame the stock market's performance on the Democratic candidates, called Nancy Pelosi incompetent, gloated about his approval ratings, mocked Chuck Schumer for requesting more funds to fight the coronavirus, kept downplaying the seriousness of COVID-19 by comparing it to the flu, rambled on about how frequently he washes his hands, lied about the mortality rate and disputed the documented figures at the time, claimed (without evidence) that his travel restrictions have stopped the virus from spreading to the U.S., whined about being called a racist, and could not give a coherent reason for appointing Mike Pence to coordinate the administration's response to this. I was not reassured. Not in the least.
tom harrison (seattle)
I can't speak for anyone else but I quit looking to my president to reassure me once John F. Kennedy died.
Lorca (Austin, TX)
I tried listening to Trump but after 10 minutes had to give up. his credibility is zero, after 20,000 lies and going strong how can anyone still believe this incompetent buffoon? I am hoping to avoid catching this disease from following the advice given in this paper, the BBC and several excellent foreign publications. So far the only symptoms that I am having is feeling nauseated every time Trump' image appears on my screen
Blue Dot (Alabama)
The majority of Americans cannot and will not believe anything that comes from the right-wing media or the current administration. Trump and the Republican Party poisoned the well. Now we see the full consequences of a political party that institutionalized dishonesty.
1st Armored Division 1971-1973 (KY)
Why would I trust anyone who had lied to me over 16,000 times? How can I ever trust a government like that?
Slann (CA)
@1st Armored Division 1971-1973 Tanks a lot!
David B. (Albuquerque NM)
Now that Trump has declared a national emergency he may have good reason to postpone the 2020 election. The argument that we can't afford to change a president during such a crisis could be backed up by his political majority on the S. Ct. And if Justice Ginsburg were to die (perish the thought) he could add one more vote to such a decision. I hope I'm wrong. But what was the necessity to call a national emergency when many measures could be put in place without that including the legislative packet?
Slann (CA)
@David B. If this virus was happening four months from now, you can bet that's what the fraud would be setting us up for. As it stands, by summer we should be past the worst, with no reason to delay the election. During this time, it would be prudent for all states to push their capacities for voting by mail. NO state should prevent anyone from voting by mail.
Richard Drandoff (Portland Oregon)
Delay the election so this utterly incompetent and crooked administration can solve our problems? Haha haha.
Cathy (Hope well Junction Ny)
I wonder if people are willing to hear the truth. What we needed to hear was: 1. This is real, and we can slow down infection, make t easier to handle the illness with limited resources, if we shut down places, events and institutions that will spread it faster 2. It will be hard. We can handle hard 3. There is a plan to provide relief to businesses that shutter and slow down, to help them stay afloat and keep people employed 4. We are adding medical resources, using FEMA to provide aid,looking for a vaccine and testing and anti-viral 5. Above all, we ask that people remain calm, stop shorting toilet paper supplies and cooperate, leaving medical equipment like masks and alcohol for medical facilities 6. Business can go to a government website to get guidelines and ideas on how to manage through the disruption of illness, closed schools, disrupted supply chains. Leadership means saying hard things, and doesn't include blaming the guy who hasn't had the hot seat since 2016. Leadership is seeing the distress of the nation, and getting the Senate to see it too. Leadership is not about re-election.
J.Sutton (San Francisco)
@Cathy That's what already would have happened if a Democrat were president.
C. Ware (Illinois)
@Cathy, this is what the Illinois governor, J. B. Pritzker, said today at about 4pm CST. It was fascinating and invigorating to hear a politician speak forthrightly, clearly and with sympathy — to say nothing of allying himself with reality.
Buddydog (Idaho)
@Cathy There is zip that FEMA can do in this disaster. Think about it.
Objectively Subjective (Utopia’s Shadow)
Perhaps it is because I’ve grown out of my short pants that I don’t feel a childlike need to be soothed by a president. What I do need is a chief executive who doesn’t bray like a fool, bloviating about how great he is while demonstrating a shocking lack of knowledge about the operation he is managing. The president works for me and for all Americans. I expect competence and skill from my employee, not charm. Lincoln must have been a wonder to listen to. But he was also a president who understood his job and tried to do it to the best of his ability. What we have instead is an incompetent embarrassment.
kenneth (nyc)
@Objectively Subjective "The president works for me and for all Americans. I expect competence and skill from my employee, not charm." What charm ?
Action (Centennial, CO)
@Objectively Subjective It's quaint the way you think the President works for the people. Really bought into some American mythology, did you?
Shillingfarmer (Arizona)
The team approach to covid-19 communicating has been a bad idea made much worse by Trump, who is a poor communicator and a liar, often in the same sentence. And then when you have tag-team reporting as we did today, context changes slightly which changes intent and meaning. And there is the occasional obsequious or fawning remark which advances nothing. And then there are a couple of pointless political remarks that seem to beg useless comparisons, like Swine Flu and web sites. Fauci should run point on the entire matter.
Mark (Aspen)
trump is not presidential, has never acted like it, and is a pathological liar. He shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence with Churchill or even Nixon or Bush. He and the congressional sycophants who support him need to be elected out of office. Vote in November.
Rick Morris (Montreal)
Comparing Churchill to Trump? My God. That is the equivalent of comparing a soaring eagle unafraid of heights to an injured moth circling and then consuming itself on the flickering 40 watt bulb of its own narcissism.
J.Sutton (San Francisco)
@Rick Morris Marvelously hilarious!
Frequent Commenter (DownUnder via NY)
As if it wasn't obvious already, Donald Trump is not the leader that you want in a crisis. His "leadership" is pathetic. If that's not reason enough to realise that he should be removed as President of the United States at the next election, then I don't know what is. ANY of the other candidates would do a better job than him.
Kingfish52 (Rocky Mountains)
When people know that you lie, you lose credibility. Trump has lost more credibility than he has money, and that's quite something given how often he's declared bankruptcy. With that deficit of trust, he is completely incapable of offering reassurance to the nation, perhaps the most fundamental duty of a President. He is an abject failure that will be judged as such by history. Personally, I stopped even listening or reading anything he says. Why bother? It's all lies anyway.
Jeff (Needham MA)
On this particular medical and epidemiological emergency, the "adult in the room" is actually Dr. Fauci. Unfortunately for him, he is the point person who is universally acknowledged to know the most and to have the best ability to bring people and facts together for proper action. If I were he, I would hold a daily press conference and state fact. He should state the problems. He should provide direction. He has no authority to command resources, but he has credibility. He is the one person who can stand up to anyone in the political side of government to state truth and to demand proper action. It is akin to the dynamic in the early Star Trek episodes, when Bones would tell Kirk what to do as a matter of safety. The tragedy is that Trump maligned the CDC. What folly, to attack the front-line troops who are protecting the health and welfare of the US? Trump may be President, but there are lines one can never cross, and his attacks in the last 24 hours are a grievous breach. We are seeing the measure of the man in Trump. What we need now is for independent voices to declare the truth: Yes, this is a crisis. This is a threat to many people. We can get through this if we take certain measures. We don't need to run to the supermarket to buy stores of toilet paper and food. Our supply system is working. We need to wash hands. We need to self-isolate to some extent. We need to support each other.
Mike S. (Eugene, OR)
This is potentially a lot bigger than 9/11, 1/28/86, or 11/22/63, even if there isn't a single date when things changed (although when I went into the woods to work yesterday morning and came out 8 hours later, the news was dramatically different). Covid is bigger because every country in the world is or will be involved. It is bigger because it is one enemy to our species, not fighting amongst ourselves. It's bigger, because unlike 9/11, we all have to mobilize and be at risk, not just the military. And if that isn't enough, if we end up giving free Covid tests to Americans, and maybe subsidized Covid care, which may be the only way we can deal with the epidemic, we may transform our medical care system without nearly as much rancor than we expected. Stranger things have happened.
J.Sutton (San Francisco)
@Mike S. I think it's quite obvious now that without universal medical care, we're all endangered.
Clarence Smythe (Boise)
A virus will save us. Certainly politicians won’t.
angus (chattanooga)
Bedtime stories and soaring rhetoric are not going to bring much comfort to me. What would reassure me would be the sense that leaders are taking this pandemic seriously, not looking for others to blame, focusing on science vs gut feelings and able to bring people together to mount an effective response.
Blackmamba (Il)
Mahatma Gandhi once defined leadership as the ability to see where the people were going and running out in front of them. Donald Trump didn't run a covert stealthy subtle campaign for President of the UnitedStates. Donald Trump hasn't governed as President of the United States in a covert stealthy subtle manner. Leaders can invoke and involve themselves in both the ' better angels' and worst demons of our flawed mortal human partisan political nature.
kenneth (nyc)
@Blackmamba Unfortunately, our Donald doesn't even know who Gandhi was. Nor does he care.
Roberta (Kansas City)
@Blackmamba It's the response to the pandemic that counts. Pretending it doesn't really exist and we are all overreacting is not the way to control this virus. Having test kits would help. Having science would help. Having a leader we can trust would help. And that is what leaders like Obama, Clinton, Biden or Sanders would provide. Next question.
Lola (San Francisco, ca)
This is an excellent analysis of the current situation. The lack of intelligent, coherent leadership of the President is a real threat to the health and survival of millions of Americans. As a San Franciscan, I am extremely proud of our Governor, Gavin Newsom, and our Mayor, London Breed. Both have shown true leadership, "tell it like it is" discourse and the courage to make bold decisions. Now if only....
kenneth (nyc)
@Lola We're all very happy for San Francisco. And now back to our nation's captal - - - - -
J.Sutton (San Francisco)
@Lola I trust our California state government MUCH more than I do the Feds, led by trump. Thank goodness we have a strong safety net here.
WTig3ner (CA)
Even those who support Trump know that he lies all the time. That's the problem with squandering credibility. Once it's gone, it's gone. It doesn't come back. Trump is the last person who can offer reassurance to the nation. Richard Nixon was more trustworthy. That's a pretty low bar.
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Kansas)
@WTig3ner I’d take Nixon, in a nanosecond. Just saying.
kenneth (nyc)
@Phyliss Dalmatian Maybe...but we're forgetting the cabinet folks who actually ran his administration.
kenneth (nyc)
@Phyliss Dalmatian We had that. Going from worse back to bad is no great comfort.
Ellen Hinchee (Tulsa, OK)
This president has not been credible for some time. It became clear long ago that he would not be an effective leader in a crisis. Anyone who expected effective leadership from him now has not been paying attention. So this isn’t exactly news.
Action (Centennial, CO)
@Ellen Hinchee Then why is he such a hit down there in Oklahoma?
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Kansas)
This next Week, the Husband and I will be going to Florida, to really make sure my Parents are prepared, for the duration. It’s about 1300 miles, a bearable two-day Drive. We will be stocking their House with the usual supplies, for a two or three Month siege. Bottled Water, Food, cleaning supplies, paper products, laundry supplies, batteries, candles, etc, etc, etc. Everything they could possibly need, except their Medications. My Mother can order those over the phone, and drive thru for pick-up. I am doing this because I don’t want them outside, unless medically necessary. My Mother is 80, my Stepfather almost Ninety. There is very little possibility they would survive this Infection. No, this is NOT Panic. This is Realism. A valid response to the complete and utter Incompetence of Trump and HIS Regime. And the State of Florida will do as little as possible, because helping People costs MONEY. Take care of your older Family Members, as best as you can. They WILL be the prime Victims of this horrid Pandemic. WE ARE ON OUR OWN.
Unaffiliated (New York)
Compare Trump to Churchill? Churchill was a leader and a scholar. Trump doesn’t read anything, is nobody’s idea of a national leader, and inspires mostly contempt from those whose income and political futures are not associated with the bully’s personal agenda ...,, meaning the vast majority of Americans. He may be good at real estate dealing, but he’s an outright failure at his current position. Since he reads nothing and denies the facts of science, he cannot lead us through this viral storm. Better for him to just confess ignorance and allow physicians and medical researchers to carry the torch. If we follow him down his paths of glory, we will all too soon find that they “ lead but to the grave.”
Socrates (Downtown Verona. NJ)
Trump and the Republicans are rejecting the House's coronavirus relief bill package — which includes a new paid sick leave program, enhanced unemployment benefits, free virus testing and additional funds for food assistance and Medicaid - because Trump and the GOP wants tax cuts included. Payroll tax cuts that would destablilize Social Security and Medicare financing the same way the 2017 GOP-Trump tax cuts have destabilized the national treasury. The modern Republican Party and their leader have completely slipped the surly bonds of reason and fiscal responsibility to touch the face of fraudonomics to solve every problem in America. "Take two tax cuts and call me from the morgue" is not the kind of leadership people are looking for.
victoria (San Francisco)
President Trump and Vice President Pence should be immediately quarantine. Many of the United States Senators and Representatives are over 60 years old and would be vulnerable to Coronavirus. The consequence of this virus permeating the senior government is terrifying. Some senior members of the government have already self quarantine and it is in the best interest of the United States Security that Trump and Pence are quarantine for 14 days immediately.
tom harrison (seattle)
@victoria - A 14 day quarantine would do nothing. If COVID-19 is still around two weeks from now (and it will be) they would be just as susceptible once they came out of quarantine. Our government is already set up to deal with deaths of old white guys/gals and things would keep moving along.
AL (Upstate)
We are suffering today from not only Trump's incompetency and dishonesty, but more fundamentally from decades of attacks on our government by the Republicans and related right-wing media. They have continuously undermined confidence in government to justify cutting programs and regulations. Now we know what happens.
OKC (Southwest)
Joe Biden's speech was measured, calm, thoughtful and exactly what I wanted to hear. I pray that Donald Trump takes his advice and adopts the plan that Biden laid out on his website. I wish Biden was in the driver's seat on this, because it would go a long way in assuaging my fears that there is no adult in the Oval office.
TheraP (Midwest)
I find it far better to pay no attention to the man, to avoid seeing him, hearing him. He failed on Wed. Why even bother to put himself again to the test? Indeed, if this nation needs a National Emergency, he is it. And nothing short of a resignation will assuage the nation. Declaring a national emergency gives an unfit sociopath all too much power to do more harm. That scares me more than the virus.
maria m. (Washington state)
What we needed was an executive who had appointed professional and competent staff prepared to handle a public health emergency. Instead, we got incompetent political cronies. A good leader would have a plan in place for every kind of emergency. A good leader would have given a speech telling people what the plan is and how our country will overcome the crisis— that’s what relieves anxiety, not a bunch of hubris.
Maria (Garden City, NY)
Not the leader at the top. He does the opposite. And he prevents others from doing their jobs.
Joe Rockbottom (California)
Unfortunately our "president" is not a leader. So not expecting much from him. Indeed, the best we could ask for is that his underlings just ignore him and do what needs to be done.
Ted (NY)
Dirty money in politics can’t make them “our political leaders”. No. They’re the special interests’ lobbyists. It’s what Senator Warren wants to change. A Churchillian-type of leader is impossible when a Michael Bloomberg spends $500M to try to get himself elected. Or, Sheldon Adelson and Ronald Lauder spend tens of millions to get Trump re-elected. What passes for Wall Street and moneyed establishment and what they want is far, far different from what the country needs. They got us the disastrous Iraqi war and the 2008 Great Recession.
Grace (Bronx)
"Can Our Political Leaders Still Reassure Us?" Of course they can. We say a good example in Trump's speech on Friday.
Merlin Balke (Kentucky)
When our “leader” is Trump the answer is no, he can’t reassure us.
vince williams (syracuse, utah)
I have viewed the comments on my earlier post and also viewed my President's news conference. Mr. President and his Task Force has mobilized the Private Sector to now correct past failures and help all Citizens with this Virus. I wonder now if the negative posts & comments will reflect hope for the future in the fight of this disease. To confirm my opinion of the persons with their hate & ignorance, I hope future posts will show encouragement for the new plans. To describe these Dems as Haters is not strong enough. But, if putting their faith in Biden and/or Sanders, these are very sad individuals. Trump in a landslide!
tom harrison (seattle)
@vince williams - I live in Seattle and Trump/Pence have not done one thing to help. Meanwhile, before Trump's "Task Force", Bill and Melinda Gates began working on a free home testing kit which Amazon has agreed to deliver within hours for free. The test will then go to the University of Washington rather than the CDC. And we already have a drive-thru test thanks to Trump/Pence. Did you see Bezos or Gates on the task force? Does anyone on that Task Force have as much experience bringing vaccines to market as Gates? Can anyone in America deliver an item faster than Bezos? Once again, nothing but the best people!
vince williams (syracuse, utah)
@tom harrison Wrong.
Mike (Texas)
Declaring a national emergency was a good move on Trump’s part. But that press conference revealed a press corps that is not up to the task of covering a dishonest man with unlimited power. Admittedly, the White House is now cutting the microphones of journalists whose follow ups it does not want to deal with. But after Yamiche Alcindor asked a legitimate question that Trump callled “nasty,” no journalist—including U.S. journalists—followed up. Instead people asked questions that seemed divorced from the fact that we are in an election season when the man in the White House needs to be vetted just as much as the Democratic candidates do. Does the White House press corps have Stockholm Syndrome?
Doctor Woo (Orange, NJ)
I asked this question in another comment yesterday and will keep asking it. What happens if you have the virus eventually. Yes you get flu symptoms and get sick. But then what? Most people don't die. The old & people with weakened immune systems are at the most risk, but what about every one else? Do you get better? Do you just have cold symptoms for a long time? What about children? Tom Hanks said he's ailing but not very much. So someone please start getting this out there... what happens if you have it eventually ????
tom harrison (seattle)
@Doctor Woo - The best info for that is the local Seattle news channels/papers. There you can learn about the first case in the country and his stay in a hospital (he has been released). You can even learn what rating the hospital receives online from past patients (2.8). You can learn about how many people have tested positive and what happened. You can learn about a teenager who tested positive and all of his symptoms and how long the illness lasted (5 days total). You can learn what the normal death rate for the nursing home is where the COVID-19 deaths have occurred (7-11 per month).
Doctor Woo (Orange, NJ)
@tom harrison *** Thank You .. so it is starting to look to me like we are overreacting quite a bit here. That is not to say that every one shouldn't get tested, they should. And that the Trump admin response hasn't been abysmal, it has. But if you get better by a couple weeks, why all this crazy freak out?
1blueheron (Wisconsin)
The first failure in America was lack of attention to mental health. The nation failed to listen to 27 and 37 psychiatrists' work in The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. Had we listened, we would not let a paranoid/sociopathic narcissist/pathological liar into the oval office. As a result he made decisions detrimental to America's health and safety, from cutting the funding of the CDC to deflecting the oncoming pandemic in order to make himself look good. In his mind, his own self was more important than the possibility of 200,000 - 1.7. million deaths in America, We are about to learn some hard lessons - from allowing mentally incompetent leadership into the oval office, to allowing networks like Fox News, enable him to be a danger to the American public. In addition to Covid-19 testing kits, America now needs a standard basic psychological exam for the presidency, in order to safeguard the nation from the chaos and death that we now find ourselves in.
pi (maine)
Friends don't let friends drive drunk. These days of massive executive branch failure should sober us all up. Time to get the GOP out of the driver's seat and take away the keys. Time to get the car out of the ditch, make repairs, and get on the road to recovery. Time to think of a Biden administration getting the job done.
Slann (CA)
@pi Tomorrow is your day!
tom harrison (seattle)
@pi - I know lots of folks think Uncle Joe is their only hope but you do remember a little city called Flint, Michigan? Did Obama/Biden resolve that issue or did they politicize it? I don't recall their admin calling in the Seabees to dig up every yard in the city and put in new pipes or build a proper water treatment facility. No, Cher Bono got tired of the politicians pointing the finger at each other and bought those folks a million bottles of clean water and flew it in from Iceland. Cher would be a better president than Joe Biden.
Jimd (Planet Earth)
It’s a mistake to look for reassurance or comforting from any president, family and maybe your local pastor, it’s a short list to people who know you. Liberal democrats need to be coddled and constantly reassured that everything will be all right and you’ll be safe, how did you think the term snow flake became so common.
mjs79 (Minneapolis)
@Jimd Liberal democrats do not need coddling and constant reassurance- that is what Trump has been providing. What we demand is honesty and competent job performance- something he is unable to provide. BTW- I suggest you spend more time researching the derivation of the perjorative term snowflake- your conclusions are wrong.
He is incapable of reassuring us. Incapable. What he is good at is spinning death, which is what he did when he declined the offer of test kits from the WHO. He made a fatal mistake for all American when he did this. What's clear is that he continues to spin death by not wanting facts or data or modeling regarding positive tests, high numbers, and deaths.
bp (neutral onserver interplanetary traveler)
"We" also includes everone including those who will be lost due to reckless partisan policies. "We" in that sense will not all be alright.
Edwin (El Paso)
The only way Trump can reassure me if he were to drop dead right now on live TV. Pence is horrible too, but at least he is not an insane megalomaniac, and that at least would help us get back to something more normal.
Jeff (Angelus Oaks, CA)
I believe his propensity to mock anyone not himself has in fact already made him a towering figure of mockery. I mean, a person who mocks disabled people? C'mon, what was anybody expecting?
Scarponi (UK)
The appropriate remarks by a President to the country were made by Joe Biden yesterday. Please vote Blue.
Montreal Moe (Twixt Gog and Magog)
The last time America was united was during the Carter Administration and everyone Democrat, Republican and Independent worked tirelessly to destroy wise, deliberative and honest government. Carter knew what the future held and his decisions indicated he knew what would be needed forty years into the future. Maybe Carter believed everyone knew the story of the grasshopper and the ant. Nobody is saying that what is happening can only be reactionary because 40 years ago America decided to be reactionary instead of proactive. I remember when America's best and brightest ran the country. Conservatism in a rapidly evolving world is the definition of stupidity. Trump may be the symptom but electing Reagan initiated the disease. I remember when an American President said he would put a man on the moon in a decade. I also remember a President saying it is morning in America. I cannot begin to say what America needs in 1500 characters but it begins with learning a second language in the first three years to learn the math understanding that is needed. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Maybe its time to stop pretending that the world is not 4.5 billion years old so as not to offend the Abracadabrans. They are a reliable voting demographic but do they belong on the Supreme Court?
Andy (San Francisco)
There’s no reassurance when the lyingest lying president EVER speaks (over 16,000 lies since he’s been in office). This is a petty little man unfit for the office. So let’s look to the government. Ah. Petty Man has been busy hollowing it out. Scientists are gone, the professionals are gone. He wants “loyalists,” whose only qualifications seem to be they couldn’t make it to the top in the real world, but Trump offers them a leg up (looking at you, Barr and Pompeo, Miller, etc.). He has lied from the start of the crisis and so people, real people, not just the government, have been slow to prepare. All those Fox News watchers...? At increased risk because they believed Hannity and they believed this president. No worse than the flu. Gone in April. Then Petty Man began to muzzle the CDC. There truly is no reassurance to be had. At least Fauci, with his dire warnings, is helping us prepare. I don’t count on Trump to tell the truth; he’s simply incapable, caged by his weaknesses and insecurities.
Carol (Newburgh, NY)
Political leaders need to reassure Us? What happened to Americans? I guess the U.S. is now a nation of fearful, panic-stricken crybabies. Many Americans are wimps hoping that political leaders (big daddies) will comfort and reassure them.
Texdeb (WI)
The republicans nor trump comfort me one bit. Lie, cheat and spread hate and conspiracy theories. What’s the comfort in that.
Barry Schiller (North Providence RI)
nobody can have the slightest confidence in anything Trump says and anyone on the stage with him is compromised by being there where they have to please the President. Of course Trump knows almost nothing about history, nothing about Shakespeare, nothing about inspirational writings, he only knows how to trumpet himself, pander to the suckers, and bully his opponents What a disgrace that at this time of challenge we have such an leader. Those who enabled him to become President have a lot to answer for.
Armo (San Francisco)
Listening to Mike Pence spout off bootlicking blather about our "amazing" president, while he supposedly was put out to placate the fears of Americans is sickening. There is zero credibility coming from any part of the current administration. I use the word, administration, very loosely. We are in deep trouble with the man we have sitting as president.
Tara (MI)
It's not a credibility gap (although there is one). It's the fact that the ship of state is being steered by 1 man who is: a moral donut; a solipsistic-narcissist; the worst serial liar in human memory; an untutored, blinkered plutocrat with false-dealing and self-dealing high on his list, and a man whose speeches are written by the ultra-far-right in the country. The latter (as an ideology, no names in particular) actually believe it's a "good thing" for a virus to eliminate old and useless people, esp. 'Democrats'. The US has swallowed the Koolaid.
David Law (Los Angeles)
All true but someone needs to speak with Rupert Murdoch, because it’s his Fox News, aided by morons like Limbaugh, that have persuaded unsophisticated Americans that intelligent, educated leaders are evil and plainspoken incompetents like Trump and W Bush are good. The same deluded voters have pushed intelligent congresspeople out of office and replaced them with woefully ignorant and belligerent clowns who won’t compromise for the benefit of all Americans. So until we can convince Fox and Murdoch they have been directly responsible for the lack of American leadership, it’s more of Don and his foot-in-mouth disease.
Boregard (NYC)
Trump has never, never in his public career, either locally seeking attention from the local media, or when he went national as a side show act (he really was the side show act on The Apprentice not the star)ever shown an ounce of compassion, much less a dram of empathy. I doubt he could even define the words. Seriously, I would love to test him on word definitions. So to ever think he would look at this issue from a public safety standpoint and not a, "how does this effect me, and my fake Image?" POV first and second, third, etc... is to exhibit extreme naivete, being deaf, dumb and blind, or simply a pure zealot, prone to cult memberships. Trump will never be a true leader, nor much of what normal people would deem a real man. He's stuck in adolescence. Its really that simple.
Henry Hewitt (Seattle)
Thanks Sarah, You have to wonder what good is a weatherman if all he can tell you is that after the storm is over the seas will be calm.
John Doe (Johnstown)
OMG, after watching Trump’s emergency declaration with its contingent of white male corporate cooperation, it can’t happen. Where is the diversity. Better to die than not be PC.
Certainly it would help if trump self quarantined his mouth.
Erica Smythe (Minnesota)
No reassurances available to you when they're camped out in a hotel room in Florida with Crystal Meth while waiting for a call from Joe Biden to serve as his Vice President.... That's right folks...Andrew Gillum Found in Miami Hotel Room with Crystal Meth. Miami Herald..he's too legit to quit.
Bailey T. Dog (Hills of Forest, Queens)
We know Trump is a blatant liar and can’t be trusted to tell the truth about anything, great or small. Jon Lovitz has nothing on him.
Scott Montgomery (Irvine)
What a speech. As always, starts with rest-of-world-bad. Our-country-good. Brag, brag, blah, blah, blah, brag. Blah, blah. Brag some more. At his absolute worst today. Describing things he’s never heard of before and has absolutely no interest in. Mouthing a bunch of rhetoric he’s never believed. Turned Dr. Fauci from a voice of reason to just another one of his sad cadre of shills. Pence stood there with his dashboard dog bobbing head the entire time, then slumped to the occasion kissing his boss’s backside with his time at the podium. Obviously auditioning for VP in November. What I would’ve given for three or four people to sneeze around him today as he stood there and fumbled his way through a speech written for a second grader. He’d have dropped behind the podium, shaking. Can’t tell you how much safer I feel. Because I don’t.
Kianaki (San Diego)
Building a relationship that can withstand great stress requires a long haul of integrity and trustworthiness before the challenges set in. The great tragedy is that Trump has instead chosen to lie and disseminate and thereby squandered any ability to lead the nation in crisis. Even if he were able to give a great reassuring speech now, it would not have the desired effect on a rattled nation.
Frunobulax (Chicago)
Politicians and the press have been about as useless as one has come to expect, no matter the issue, when it involves providing reliable information and analysis and imparting good sense. The scientific community, who no one cares about or much listens to, has been better, at least in what I've seen, the websites of the CDC, WHO, and the major University Medical Centers.
nastyboy (california)
No not least this crop of political leaders. When you think about it they are all basically self-selected and then voted in. The initial determination of their "leadership and inspirational" ability is made by themselves. This says nothing of anything but there "sales" ability to persuade voters they are uniquely qualified......look at what we have at all levels of government, Congress, etc.; incompetence when a crisis strikes.
Teddi (Oregon)
Which political leaders? Governors? Yes. The President? Absolutely not.
rocky vermont (vermont)
Both Biden and Sanders accomplished what they "meant " to do. Trump's pathetic performance shouldn't even be mentioned in the same universe. BTW It has been alleged that the Challenger was given the launch go ahead, despite the frigid weather, because Reagan was giving a SOTU address that evening. It is amazing how little it takes to satisfy Americans, and Trump couldn't even clear that bar.
nwsnowboarder (Everett, WA)
@rocky vermont might have been frigid in Vermont, but I remember distinctly standing outside watching it go up on a beautiful January day. It was far from frigid in Florida that day.
McGloin (Brooklyn)
@nwsnowboarder Weather changes at different altitudes. You don't know what the weather was like at ten thousand he feet, and you don't know what temperatures were considered That's the problem with "common sense." It doesn't know what it doesn't know.
Susan Fitzwater (Ambler, PA)
Oh Ms. Lyall. There are not TWO problems here, not just one. We have had fine presidents who were not inspiring orators. I do not consider Mr. Obama an inspiring orator. (And here I know--I could be wrong). But when I have heard him say things, they come out just a bit FLAT. Like pronouncements from the Harvard professor he was. The sentences (pardon my language) would snap shut as it were with an audible CLICK. "There!" they seemed to say. "So much for THAT." But my admiration for Mr. Obama (all this notwithstanding) is immense. He was a splendid President--he is a splendid man. The problem with Mr. Trump is on a wholly different level. How he might fix that problem I have no idea. The keynote of this administration is MENDACITY. Other odious qualities are certainly in evidence--the ME FIRST mentality that pervades our Chief Executive, the inveterate BRAGGADOCIO that characterizes virtually everything he says--the pitiful MEANNESS, the petty MALICE--oh dear, Ms. Lyall! I could go on and on. And how--in Heaven's name--HOW! knowing what he is, knowing his dismal track record as a president and as a human being--HOW-- --are we to suck a few grams of peace and reassurance from such a man? HOW in Heaven's name is he to rally us a la Churchill to the sunlit heights he would have us discern from afar-- --stuck as we are in the hinterlands of the coronavirus? It cannot be done. Sorry.
kenneth (nyc)
@Susan Fitzwater "The problem with Mr. Trump is on a wholly different level. How he might fix that problem I have no idea. " Nor does he. He's focused instead on the problem of how to make people love him. Leadership, for him, is all about personal glory.
DD (Florida)
@Susan Fitzwater It was only a matter of time before trump began to blame Obama in some way for the virus or inability to respond to it appropriately. trump inspires loathing and disgust, certainly not reassurance. Let the CDC and medical scientists do their work free politics. They are the ones who inspire reassurance with their expertise and the truth.
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Kansas)
Trump has never been a Leader. At best, he’s a Performer. A combination of a Carnival Barker, “ Professional Wrestling “ Announcer and, lately, a Televangelist. He’s a Salesman, with TV Cameras, mostly selling Himself. The gullible and naive have been seduced by the “ Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous “ persona for decades. Now he is unmasked, for all who care to see. Born to wealth, consumed with greed, supremely uninterested and uncaring about anything or anyone that does not affect his bottom line or “Ratings “. There’s a sucker born every minute. If given the chance, he will Con every single one of them. NOVEMBER. Vote them ALL out.
McGloin (Brooklyn)
The Carona virus is scary. Even scarier, is Trump with emergency powers. The first noun in the Constitution is Union. Trump divides as often as possible. Even during this afternoon's press conference, he couldn't help digs at Obama and other enemies. The Left argues passionately for the principles ratified by super-majorities in the Constitution: Union (solidarity), Justice, Tranquility, defense (not offense), the general Welfare (everyone's well being), Liberty, leaving a sustainable economy and environment for Posterity, and optical equality for all. The Right divides, replaces Justice and Tranquility with unjust laws enforced by violent, militarized police, promotes War, and the special welfare of mega-rich shareholders, measures Posterity with ten thousand trades per millisecond, and is AGAINST EQUALITY. The Right thinks they are "more equal" than the rest of us, and that their wealth is evidence of their superiority. They want to separate the rest of us from them, because we are inferior. They try to make their religion the basis of our laws against the First Amendment. They demand all protections of the Bill of Rights which they claim are mere "technicalities" for the rest of us. They HELP their wannabe King that contradicts, threatens to violate, and violates the Constitution on TV. Those that reject reason (science, facts, math, and logic), and attack the Constitution, are not "reasonable people with whom we happen to disagree." Right divides. Left Unites.
APS (Olympia WA)
Trump hates 60% of the country and doesn't care who dies in the other 40% as long as he and his family can make bank. I don't see how this guy who only cares about himself can possibly fool anyone into thinking he has any interest aside from his next overcooked cheeseburger.
No. Are you kidding? As thee adage goes, every word out of their mouths is a lie, including AND and THE.
Georg Witke (Orlando, FL)
Joe Biden can, Donald Trump cannot.
M (CA)
@Georg Witke Joe Biden doesn't even know what's going on. He's running for the Senate, remember?
kenneth (nyc)
@Georg Witke How can we know for sure that the DT cannot when he has never even tried?
Rod (Melbourne)
Why has Trump been so opposed to testing in the US? The numbers. He is a disgrace and the refusal to test will result in the death of thousands of people. The 25th Amendment should be enacted immediately.
Clarence Smythe (Boise)
Impossible. If you think the 25th amendment is possible you are more delusional than Trump.
Paulie (Earth)
I would trust the “leaders” if the weren’t a bunch of grifters out for themselves and they had even a slight bit of intelligence.
Laura (Anniston, Alabama)
Um, Trump and his cabal couldn’t reassure me of the correct time of day. Elect a clown, expect a circus.
McGloin (Brooklyn)
@Laura I wish Trump were only a clown. Elect a wannabe King, expect a violent dictatorship.
Mac (NY)
Best case scenario Trump and Pence get it and Pelosi takes over.
kenneth (nyc)
@Mac Nasty. I don't like Trump, I don't like Pence, and I have no respect for nastiness from either them or you.
kenneth (nyc)
@Mac Not nice. I never wished the virus or Trump or Pence on anyone.
Richard Swanson (Bozeman, MT)
I am not seeking reassurance, but I do require accurate data. Just what is missing nowadays.
Chris (Missouri)
@Richard Swanson "Accurate data"? That smacks of science. Science is neither acceptable or believable, because it relies on proven facts. Just ask our very stable genius.
kenneth (nyc)
@Richard Swanson What would you like to know?
Action (Centennial, CO)
@Chris Much of our population continues to believe in a made up man in the sky who controls the weather and doles out various rewards and consequences for being good or bad, so it's not altogether surprising that we end up with this tragicomedy.
Carl Lee (Minnetonka, MN)
All it takes is honesty and sincerity. Should have gotten that in January, though.
Jeff Loehr (New York)
Trump and through their abdication the Republicans have removed all trust and faith in the American government. We are no longer trustworthy. We are no longer leaders. Trump manages to lower the bar daily.
J (Pittsburgh)
I cannot think of a worse individual to be our leader in a moment like this. We are doomed if the martial law card is played later this year.
Mac (NY)
With 15,000 lies since Trump took office, I think we all know the answer. How can we trust the CDC to say the truth? As we have seen, if you disagree with him you get fired or worse.
McGloin (Brooklyn)
@Mac I wouldn't doubt the CDC. They are some of the worlds leading disease experts, and they are more wedded to scientific fact than to their jobs. Don't help Trump and friends attack the "adminstrative state". The government response from the CDC to town governments are doing what an adminstrative state does, administer. Administer - : to manage or supervise the execution, use, or conduct of the state. Those that who attack the administrative state are attacking or ability to manage our country or execute our laws. These are the people who call or government, their "enemy."
Clarence Smythe (Boise)
Being fired by Trump is like a slave given his freedom.
Chris (Missouri)
How can someone reassure us when his only consistency has been that he lies?
james haynes (blue lake california)
Speaker Pelosi reassures me. Trump and his bunch terrify me with their complacency and incompetence. If the stock market wasn't tanking, the coronavirus wouldn't worry them at all.
john fiva (switzerland)
The notion that governments should be able to solve all the problems is now being tested from one country to the next. I personally don't think that that is realistic but it will be interesting to see which government reacted most efficiently, simply because this pandemic won't be the last.
kenneth (nyc)
@john fiva oh. now, anything to say about THIS topic ?
kenneth (nyc)
@john fiva Interesting, John? For most of us it will prove vital !
See also