When Boris Johnson announced that Britain was effectively in lockdown on Monday, it was, for me, the first time he actually acted as a Prime Minister should. In this instance, he knew he needed to defer to the experts and take their advice on board. Putting this country into a state of lockdown may hurt businesses and people may lose their jobs, it stops the coronavirus spreading too quickly to the point where there are too many patients needing intensive care and the NHS simply will not be able to cope if that happens. Since, there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, the best thing to do is to do our best to limit it spreading, particularly between households.
And if we look across the pond, we see the absolute worst leadership possible in a crisis. A man who will not defer to those who clearly know more about this crisis than he does, because he is not wired to admit his own failings and gaps of knowledge. That’s why he bemused everyone around the world on a tour of the CDC, claiming he had a ‘natural ability’ and that ‘I really like this stuff, I get it’. That is a classic Trumpian response to a problem he hasn’t done his homework on. He claimed that the Syria situation was ‘ a semi-complicated, not too complicated if you’re smart, but it’s a semi-complicated problem’. And then immediately proceeded to pull all US troops out from the Syrian-Turkish border, leading to over 100 Kurdish civilian deaths.
Trump is a hardwired narcissist. He can never admit he isn’t very knowledgeable about any subject. Commentators and critics often claim Donald Trump is incapable of feeling shame. That is partially true. He cannot bear being made to feel like he isn’t the smartest person in the room. He has made baffling statements about his capabilities for years while his actions show someone who clearly does not know what they are talking about, hasn’t listened to and taken on board the information from his daily briefings but cannot admit, even to himself, that he is not as brilliant as he likes to proclaim.
Johnson’s response to the outbreak and subsequent pandemic has left much to be desired at times. He was nowhere near forceful enough in telling the public what they needed to do to prevent the spread of the virus, until he was forced to enact a lockdown. But it has been nothing like the horror show from Trump. First, he claimed in February that the virus would barely arrive in the US and disappear in no time at all. Then the USA was pioneering their own test, having not bought the European one, which Trump described as ‘beautiful’. And now the situation has spiralled completely out of control; America has over 100,000 cases of COVID-19 and Trump is now having to consider quarantining three major US cities including New York City. He’s also gotten into a spat with the Governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, suggesting that the Governor’s requests for medical equipment are overstating the severity of the situation and are not necessary, or even that medical staff in New York are taking medical supplies like face masks home and either hoarding them or selling them on a black market of some sort, it doesn’t make any sense at all. Then there was his plan to lift all restrictions on travel, going to work or just leaving the house by Easter. He literally said he hoped there would be packed churches across the country on Easter Sunday. Trump has even admitted on national TV that he and his advisors considered just waiting the virus out and not doing anything at all. Yep, their response was to not respond. Making America great people!
World leaders are being hugely tested in this crisis and they will all have to do things that they would never want to do. But Trump has proven that he does not care for the average person. Because he views this as an economic crisis, and thus a political one. He does not see it as a humanitarian crisis. His greatest concern is a) getting business in America going as soon as possible, because he believes a strong economy will help win re-election. And b) his continuing popularity. Trump’s message to the various governors and state politicians seems to be ‘tell me and the news media that I’m doing an amazing job, I’m the best president ever, no-one could have done more or you won’t get your supplies’. He is holding people’s life at ransom for his own self-gratification and political ambition. If ever there should be proof to the American people at large that Donald Trump should not win a second term, this is it.
His response to the coronavirus outbreak has shown how utterly incompetent at his job he is, and yet how completely arrogant he is in the role. Even Boris Johnson put his ego and ambition to one side and made the move that would protect as many people as possible, slow down the rate of new cases and enable the NHS to continue to treat as many people as possible without becoming overwhelmed. But Trump has cast all the blame on everyone else, tried to claim that everyone is lying about how serious the virus is to damage HIS reputation and has as good as said that he’s fine with people dying as long as businesses can still make money. This is deplorable and it’s time to show him the door out of the White House for good.