According to a report from Politico, former White House officials are going public with their criticism of Donald Trump, saying the president is relying on old tricks and has not learned a thing as he has been confronted by a health crisis that has taken the lives of over 50,000 Americans and shut the country down.
As one communications official bluntly put it: “He’s performed poorly.”
According to Politico’s Daniel Lippman, “In late March, he [Trump] bragged that a fast new diagnostic test for the virus was ‘a whole new ballgame’ — and aides rushed to bring it to market. But while impressive, the speedier tests have run into supply bottlenecks, and health experts have warned of unacceptably high error rates.”
“It’s a pattern that has repeated itself throughout Trump’s presidency in which Trump grasps for new ideas (often by what he sees on television), shortcuts and anything that can deliver hope and high ratings as the clock nears six months to the election,” he wrote. “And those who know the president best say that even a crisis that has devastated American families and brought the economy to a standstill has hardly changed him at all.”
According to a person close to the White House, “He continues to lead by floating trial balloons, gauging how those trial balloons are being received and then adjusting along the way. He launches the trial balloons as he sees fit and then the adjustment comes after everyone starts chiming in after being sort of blindsided by the original trial balloon.”
David Lapan, a former senior Homeland Security Department official in the Trump administration, was more direct in his criticism: “I think we are seeing that pattern reemerge throughout this crisis with the president not taking responsibility and trying to again shift blame elsewhere.”
“Exaggerating the size of the crowd that came to his inauguration or exaggerating the size at the Fourth of July event, those are annoying, but those aren’t life and death,” he continued.“This is a time for serious response and serious communication and not using the opportunity to repeat past patterns of blaming others, of trying to underplay certain things and overplay other things.”
Guy Snodgrass, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ chief speechwriter and communications director concurred.
“He’s performed poorly,” he explained. “He’s president of the United States. During a time of crisis, I believe most Americans want their senior-most elected leader to imbue strength, to imbue honesty, to be a source of strength for them.”
According to former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, no one should have expected the president to change.
“There’s only one thing that he’s concerned about and you know what that is? It’s ‘TRUMP,’” he told Politico, spelling out ‘Trump’ to get his point across. “When he does a news search, he’s searching ‘TRUMP.’ He doesn’t search ‘USA,’ he searches ‘TRUMP.”
Another former administration official expressed concern the president is incapable of learning from his mistakes.
“Most people would say, ‘Yeah I learned from that, I learned not to jump out ahead, or to be so definitive on things’, but I don’t see any evidence of that,” said official lamented. “He’s sort of doubled down [by saying] he’s handled this thing perfectly well and I’m not sure whether he learns in the same way that other people might.”
This, in turn, has Republican officials concerned that Trump’s inability to change course has handed Democrats a powerful weap[on in the upcoming election.
“Republicans close to the White House are worried that Democrats will use Trump’s dismissive early comments against him; some of them are already appearing in early ads by Democratic groups,” the report states, with another official close to the White House stating, “Where he’s going to get burned is his initial rhetoric claiming that the disease would never come to the U.S. and it would simply go away. Basically, those comments about it being overblown and a media hoax — all of that is going to be a lesson in not shooting off your mouth before you actually know the truth because television ads are going to come fast and furious.”
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