Coronavirus Could End Trump’s Chance at Reelection, But Things Are Too Terrifying Right Now To Feel Hopeful

AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

At The Atlantic, long-time Republican Peter Wehner writes what many of us hope is true: That the coronavirus crisis has shown how incapable a leader Trump is, and this crisis will end Trump’s presidency. Granted, a lot of us knew how incapable Trump was before the pandemic. He is a despicable, morally bereft “human being.” And even if Wehner’s prediction turns out to be correct, a national emergency is too great a cataclysm to make it feel worth celebrating right now. Right now, a lot of us are locked inside our homes, self-quarantining, entertaining our kids while protecting ourselves and others. An end to Trump’s presidency is an optimistic outcome; let’s just hope enough of us survive, and our economy endures, to enjoy it. Nothing seems cheery now, here indoors among the stockpiled cereal, canned beans, and coffee, during this isolated, anxious time when so many of us are wondering if our jobs will continue, reading too many coronavirus articles and tweets and updates, and wondering which of our elderly family members the virus will kill. Right now, we can definitely use something to feel hopeful about. The full pantries no longer provide much sense of relief. With the spreading pandemic creeping closer to each of us, it no longer seems like we have much time to wait for Trump’s reign to end. And yet, locked inside our homes, it also seems that time is all we have, one hour ticking slowly by after another. But back to Wehner.

Most of us know Trump’s moral and presidential failings, his lying, cheating, racism, misogyny, and unfortunate ability to get away with behavior that would have ruined other presidents, let alone small-town mayors. Wehner makes a strong case, though: How Trump ignored early warnings about COVID-19. How Trump circulated misinformation, blocked testing efforts, disbanded the NSC pandemic unit, kept shaking people’s hands despite warnings, and how he is clearly incapable of comforting or protecting the public in anyway. Now that we’re in crisis, Wehner believes that Trump can no longer hide his errors and presidential limitations, and it will cost him the election. “Day after day after day he brazenly denied reality, in an effort to blunt the economic and political harm he faced,” writes Wehner. “But Trump is in the process of discovering that he can’t spin or tweet his way out of a pandemic. There is no one who can do to the coronavirus what Attorney General William Barr did to the Mueller report: lie about it and get away with it.”

The coronavirus is quite likely to be the Trump presidency’s inflection point, when everything changed, when the bluster and ignorance and shallowness of America’s 45th president became undeniable, an empirical reality, as indisputable as the laws of science or a mathematical equation.

It has taken a good deal longer than it should have, but Americans have now seen the con man behind the curtain. The president, enraged for having been unmasked, will become more desperate, more embittered, more unhinged. He knows nothing will be the same. His administration may stagger on, but it will be only a hollow shell. The Trump presidency is over.

We will see. But I am grateful for Wehner’s gift of hope. What I want more than anything, is for my family, my friends, my neighbors, and people around the world, including you reading this, to survive, so that we can emerge from this and not only thrive, but can, as Dan Rather recently put it, “follow a path of renewal and improvement of how we structure our society, its economy, its health, its social obligations, and its politics.”

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