According to Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, no one should be surprised that Donald Trump and the Republican Party are lagging behind dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic since they have a history of being too slow to react when a crisis hits the country.
In his column for the New York Times, Krugman started out by pointing out that the president has a well-known disregard for facts that don't fit his world view as his recent comments on the epidemic illustrated.
"Over the weekend Donald Trump once again declared that the coronavirus is perfectly under control, that any impressions to the contrary are due to the 'Fake News Media' out to get him," he wrote. "Question: Does anyone have a count of how many times he’s done this, comparable to the running tallies fact checkers are keeping of his lies?"
Answering his own question, he explained, "We’ve pretty clearly reached the point where Trump’s assurances that everything is fine actually worsen the panic, because they demonstrate the depths of his delusions. Even as he was tweeting out praise for himself, global markets were in free-fall."
To make his broader point about U.S. conservatives' failure to deal with facts, the economist recalled how they dealt with the 2008 financial crisis.
"When you look back at the record, however, you discover that as the financial crisis developed right-wingers were also deeply in denial, inclined to dismiss bad news or attribute it to liberal and/or media conspiracies. It was only in the final stages of financial collapse that top officials got real, and right-wing pundits never did," he explained. "The 2008 financial crisis was brought on by the collapse of an immense housing bubble. But many on the right denied that there was anything amiss. Larry Kudlow, now Trump’s chief economist, ridiculed 'bubbleheads' who suggested that housing prices were out of line."
"After the economic crisis helped Barack Obama win the 2008 election, right-wing pundits declared that it was all a left-wing conspiracy. Karl Rove and Bill O’Reilly accused the news media of hyping bad news to enable Obama’s socialist agenda, while Rush Limbaugh asserted that Senator Chuck Schumer personally caused the crisis (don’t ask)," he continued, before turning to current events.
"The point is that Trump’s luridly delusional response to the coronavirus and his conspiracy theorizing about Democrats and the news media aren’t really that different from the way the right dealt with the financial crisis a dozen years ago. True, last time the crazy talk wasn’t coming directly from the president of the United States. But that’s not the important distinction between then and now," he wrote. "No, what’s different now is that denial and the resulting delay are likely to have deadly consequences."
The economist also noted that many on the Trump team were in the White House during the 2008 crisis -- which should be worrying particularly since the epidemic is a life and death health issue.
"The bottom line is that like so much of what is happening in America right now, the coronavirus crisis isn’t just about Trump. His intellectual and emotional inadequacy, his combination of megalomania and insecurity, are certainly contributing to the problem; has there ever been a president so obviously not up to the job? But in refusing to face uncomfortable facts, in attributing all bad news to sinister conspiracies, he’s actually just being a normal man of his faction," he wrote before concluding, "In 2020 we’re relearning the lessons of 2008 — namely, that America’s right-wingers can’t handle the truth."
You can read the whole report here.