How our POTUS broke the trust with America AND HOW TO SEE PAST THE DAILY CRAZY!
America has proven when we have a reasonable plan of action combined with even a little bit of effective leadership we stand up, even if we have fallen. We aren’t perfect but we are the best thing going most of the time.
When the trust is broken because of intentional hiding or deception by a leader, especially in matters of American life and death, leadership is very difficult or impossible. This is where America is right now.
Imperfect crisis leadership examples that come to mind belong to G.W. Bush. I was not a W supporter and after 911 there was plenty to criticize him over but we all got behind him and each other after America was attacked and thousands of us. Even Congress did. With a couple of exceptions, they were all wrong but that's another matter for another day.
America for a little while was one. The World stood by us.
On the other hand, Bush lost America’s trust in his handling of Katrina. No plan. Little or no action. That is until America became outraged, mostly in unison, about Americans left to fend for themselves in a major disaster before rescue and rebuild efforts began. We can all grieve over lives lost during the storm's impact. When the storm is over and leaders see what needs to be handled, and nothing is handled at the cost of human life, that’s a problem.
W broke the trust.
America is there again.
POTUS knew early last January a deadly virus was coming to our shores from China. His medical experts and Whitehouse advisors gave him serious and repeated warnings beginning in early January 2020.
He downplayed, ignored, and ridiculed them as alarmists.
During this same time frame, he was in regular contact with China negotiating a trade deal.
He was also clear that this is the year of his reelection. Trade deals and the success of the stock market were of very high value in his mind.
He sat on what he knew and told us repeatedly that China has it under control. We have it under control. It’s going away.
- In early January, Intelligence briefers put a “detailed explanation of the problem … in the President’s Daily Brief.”
- The explanation was regarding a new coronavirus might be responsible for recent pneumonia cases in China.
- On January 13, The World Health Organization reports that the virus has spread beyond China.
- On January 14, During a Milwaukee rally, Trump says he’s signing a “trade deal with China, massively boosting exports of products made and produced right here in the great state of Wisconsin.”
- On January 16, Politico reports, Sec. of Health and Human Servies, Alex Azar, “tried to share an urgent message with the president — The potential outbreak could leave tens of thousands of Americans sickened and many dead.” Politico reported that according to “three people briefed on the conversations,” “Trump’s aides mocked and belittled Azar as alarmist, as he warned the president of a major threat to public health.”
- On January 21, The CDC reports the first documented infection in the United States. The CDC acknowledged, “growing indications that limited person-to-person spread is happening.”
- On January 21, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells Voice of America that the virus has been found to spread with high efficiency, “one person in China infected 15 others” — and that cases have been detected in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and France. “Clearly, it’s starting to disseminate in a much wider way,” he warns.
- On January 22, Trump says the CDC has briefed him, and “China is in very good shape.” In a CNBC interview, Joe Kernen asks the president, “Are there worries about a pandemic”? “No, not at all,” says Trump. “We have it totally under control.” Kernen asks about reports that Beijing is hiding information: “Do you trust that we’re going to know everything we need to know from China?” Trump replies: “I do. I have a great relationship with President Xi. We just signed probably the biggest deal ever made.”
- On January 24, Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, says the CDC expects “more cases in the U.S.,” including “human-to-human transmission.” Hours later, Trump tweets, “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well.”
- On January 28, Trump gets another intelligence briefing. He is told that China is “withholding data” and that the virus is “spreading outside of China.”
- On January 29, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro circulates a memo warning that the virus could lead to “a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.”
- On January 30, In an Oval Office meeting, Azar and other officials urge Trump to suspend travel from China. The Wall Street Journal reports that according to the president’s aides, he was “reluctant to sign off” on the proposal, “concerned about the signal it would send to markets and his relationship” with Xi. “Trump was skeptical,” says a New York Times account of the meeting. “The two countries were in delicate trade negotiations. Was this the time to provoke China? he asked. And what about the consequences on the economy?”
- On January 30, Azar, backed by Fauci and Redfield, phones Trump again to talk about the virus. The New York Times, in an article based on “dozens of interviews with current and former officials,” reports that Azar “directly warned Mr. Trump of the possibility of a pandemic.” But Trump “responded that Mr. Azar was being alarmist. — Stop panicking, Mr. Trump told him.”
- On February 1, During the Super Bowl interview, Sean Hannity asks Trump — “We’re now up to our eighth case in the United States. How concerned are you?” Trump replies — “Well, we pretty much shut it down coming in from China.” In reality, the suspension, which applies only to foreign nationals, isn’t scheduled to begin until the next evening.
- On February 7, Trump tweets — “Just had a long and very good conversation by phone with President Xi of China. He is strong, sharp, and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus.” Trump continues — “Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation.” A reporter asks Trump, “Are you concerned that China is covering up the full extent of coronavirus?” The president replies, “No.” As evidence, he says the “CDC is working with” Chinese authorities.
- Woodward Rage tapes — POTUS Trump: So you think the virus totally supersedes the economy?
BW: Oh, sure. But they are related as you know.
POTUS Trump: Little Bit, Yeah.
BW: Oh, little bit?
POTUS Trump: I mean, more than a little bit. But the economy is doing, look we’re close to a new stock market record.
- Woodward Rage tapes — POTUS Trump to Bob Woodward: It’s so easily transmissible, you wouldn’t even believe it. I was in the White House a couple of days ago. Meeting of 10
people in the Oval Office and a guy sneezed. Not horrible — just sneeze.
The entire room bailed out, okay?
Including me, by the way”
- Woodward Rage tapes — POTUS Trump: this thing is a killer. If you’re the wrong person, you don’t have a chance.
BW: Yes, yes, exactly.
POTUS Trump: So this rips you apart.
BW: this is a scourge. And —
POTUS Trump: It is the plague.
POTUS Trump: And Bob, it’s so easily transmissible, you wouldn’t even believe it.
BW: I know it’s — .
- Woodward Rage tapes — BW: I mean, there are parts of the of the book you’re not gonna like. And…
POTUS Trump: What won’t I like, Bob?
BW: Well, Just, you know, there is, it’s tough times. The-The virus, as you repeatedly told me, and as you’ve said publicly, it’s derailed things. And it’s a big reality in people’s lives, as you know.
So I will get it to you and…
POTUS Trump: You know the stock market’s coming back very strong, you do know that.
BW: Yes of course, and you know…
POTUS Trump: Did you cover that in the book?
BW: Yeah, Oh sure.
The trust is broken. A leader cannot lead effectively when they have hidden the truth for their personal benefit at the cost of human life.
- We were repeatedly told China has it under control. I’m talking to President Xi.
- We were told, it’s like the flu.
- Bob Woodward was told, It’s so easily transmissible, you wouldn’t even believe it.
- We were told, It’s going away…like a miracle.
- Bob Woodward was told, this thing is a killer. If you’re the wrong person, you don’t have a chance, this rips you apart, It is the plague.
- We were told, Chlorox and light will get rid of it.
- We were told, Hydroxychloroquine is a big part of the answer.
- We were told, repeatedly a vaccine will be here soon.
- We were told, a vaccine in maybe two weeks.
- Bob Woodward was told, I’m downplaying, I still want to downplay.
- We were told, If you think about it I up-played it in many ways.
- We were told, Our strategy isn’t herd immunity.
- We were told, It will be gone one day, herd mentality.
- We were told, Bob Redfield misunderstood the question when he told Congress masks may be more effective than vaccines. Redfield later tweeted to affirm the effectiveness of masks.
- Bob Woodward was repeatedly told, You know the stock market’s coming back very strong, you do know that.
The list is long and disheartening.
Now Congress is releasing non-public letters sent from the White House to at least some states(Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota.) The initial round of these letters to states showed them categorized as yellow, based on infection rates. The next round of letters was sent to these same states (possibly more, information is still coming out) showed these same states had gone from yellow to red based on rising infection rates.
The yellow letters recommended mask usage. The RED letters advised discontinuing mask use.
Yes, you read that correctly. The yellow lower rate of infection letters said, wear a mask. The red higher rate of infection letters advised mask use be discontinued. From the White House. I’m sure more facts will still come out.
The only rationale that I can come up with on dropping mask use guidance as infection rates rise are on two parallel tracks. The first track is the perceived political price of appearance. The more people wear masks the more people will see for themselves that the virus is an issue. This is not beneficial for a President in an election year. I think of this as a sweep it under the rug approach to politically driven public health and safety. The second is the shadow implementation of a Herd Immunity strategy. This strategy has previously been denied but has been embraced publically on multiple occasions by Dr. Scott Atlas. Dr. Atlas, has become a primary advisor to the President regarding COVID. Doctor Atlas, is not trained in public health or matters of infectious disease. He is a radiologist, with specialties in taking MRI’s. Dozens of his former colleagues at Stanford University have publicly denounced his qualifications for this assignment and his preferred methodology. Recently the President has begun making reference to herd, herd mentality, like a herd. He has become known for projecting.
This is for another writing but the math shows that a herd immunity approach would result in substantially higher death tolls than the almost 200000 dead as of this writing.
Full disclosure — I have seen these yellow/red letters displayed but not download them as of this writing.
Both the easy and in many ways human thing to do here is to be outraged over the mismanagement and self over service approach that has been taken by the President.
Let's look past that for a moment. Let’s step back and see the bigger picture, even though an outrageous moment is upon America.
Look past the noise.
Our conversation here and now isn’t really about the pandemic or the two Presidential candidates. I know, 200000 dead and it’s an election year but stick with me.
Rather than once again getting mired in outrage. Let’s focus on how America and Americas win.
America doesn’t move forward by, for example, convincing the American people that the press is the enemy of the people. Is the press perfect? Not at all. I think most members of the press would tell you they are not perfect. I am a former member of the press and I was never perfect. I am also not an enemy of the people.
The point is this and applicable to a long list of other examples related to American institutions.
Institutions that we rely on as a nation, like the press, are undermined and attacked relentlessly with no good faith effort to improve them by the person in charge who is claiming they are the enemy of the people, against us, or worse.
The effort is only to create distrust, anger, and fear. To turn them into some sort of they are against us-other.
The effort to legitimately improve them isn’t made because there is a benefit in having and creating the largest sense possible that there is an enemy in our midst.
If a leader feels something is not right or is truly a threat to America, the press, or any other example you like, the leader finds a solution. Or at least tries to.
The way forward is not to make people afraid and angry. That only pits Americans against Americans.
That leaves us with this question. Is a way forward or a solution to the egregious threats presented, around the clock, to America being addressed? Is there any real effort to reform or improve anything?
All comparisons and metaphors are imperfect, but here is my comparison.
In American history, we saw this example during the Red Scare, McCarthy hearings. Claims by the Senator were that America had been infiltrated by Communists in Hollywood and in the American Government, sort of a deep state. Lives were ruined. Careers were broken. Americans were turned into an-other for America to rally against.
The point of the Red Scare was to make Americans suspicious of each other. It was meant to divide us and empower only those elected officials who would stand with Senator McCarthy against the Communists. Even though it was a fantasy.
It was meant to empower Senator McCarthy and it took on a life of its own. There was no Communist infiltration of the American Government. The whole point is to disempower any possible opposition that might speak truth to power. The whole point is to create an “other” within our midst.
As a matter of note — Roy Cohn, a long time close friend, and adviser to the President was Senator McCarthy’s lead counsel during the red scare/McCarthy hearings. Cohn was also a friend and advisor to the Presidents friend and advisor Roger Stone dating back to at least the Reagan administration.
Today, we see the daily drumbeat of “an-other” being reinforced through repetition. The press an-other, mask wearers an-other, people actually protesting an-other, immigrants an-other, Democrats an-other, mayors an-other, governors an-other, former Vice Presidents an-other, battle decorated vets an-other, former national security advisor an-other, Former Generals an-other, science an-other, the NFL an-other, the FBI an-other, all of our intelligence agencies an-other and the list goes on and grows daily.
- Do not question my authority or you too will be an-other are the unspoken words.
- I and I alone will tell you the truth is the message delivered.
- You can trust nothing but me becomes a little more true and is the intended result.
- Anything that relies on verified facts is not true doesn’t matter because I and I alone are your guardian and defender.
- Because it was presented to you by the other.
This has been done to varying degrees throughout history.
A foundational way of seeing past this and finding a way forward is to know that when Americans are intentionally divided against each other to benefit one, America (us) cannot win.
When I believe you are against me how can we move forward? When all I can say or think is you’re wrong and I’m right, how can we move forward? That is the ground that has been fertilized daily for almost four years.
When politicians debate who has the best policy or plan or who has the best record, that’s very different.
What has happened here is the creation of intentional distrust, anger, and hatred. The intentional creation of a “me against you” state of mind. The intentional creation and vilification of an-other.
All meant to benefit one person.
NOTE: Much of this writing is my personal viewpoints. The dates, quotes, and information are not mine. They are aggregated from public records and reporting. I did no original reporting for this piece. Thanks for your time.