Several new studies and models suggest that if Donald Trump had simply declared a state of national emergency, largely shutting down the country, a few weeks earlier than he did, tens of thousands of people who are dead right now would still be alive.
He certainly had the information available to him. We now know that he was receiving classified briefings in December and January warning about the virus coming, and Peter Navarro had written a memo to him explicitly warning of exactly what is happening right now.
The problem is that Donald Trump doesn’t read. He doesn’t read his classified briefings, he doesn’t read memos from his senior staff, he doesn’t read his speeches before he gives them; he apparently doesn’t read anything at all except Twitter.
While Trump may have some natural skills as a huckster, salesman and grifter, most the evidence – including statements by his previous teachers and professors – indicate he otherwise has a mediocre or even poor intellect.
So here’s how banal our crisis is: our president is a man who is not particularly smart and doesn’t read.
He gets all his news from billionaire Rupert Murdoch‘s propaganda channel, Fox News, which is famously filled with lies and scams.
Meanwhile, billionaires like Betsy DeVos are funding groups pushing defiance of stay-at-home orders or mask-wearing that save lives.
The feedback loop between Fox, groups funded by right wing billionaires, and Trump has produced policies that have led tens of thousands of Americans to die unnecessarily.
Putting a billionaire in the White House, while other billionaires are funding misinformation and disinformation groups, and another billionaire is running a national television propaganda channel, may lead to as many as a quarter million dead Americans by the end of the year.
History will not be kind to these oligarchs.