‘Narcissism and solipsism’: Paul Krugman explains how ‘whiny, childlike’ Trump ‘grossly minimized the pandemic and its dangers’
Paul Krugman speaks to The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco on May 22, 2012. (Ed Ritger/Flickr)

A recurring theme in economist Paul Krugman’s New York Times column is that is wrong to single President Donald Trump out as being uniquely bad among Republicans — that he is a reflection of the modern-day GOP on the whole. This week in his column, Krugman asserts that Trump’s coronavirus response is terrible but stresses that he is being encouraged by all his Republican enablers.


“At a time of crisis, America is led by a whiny, childlike man whose ego is too fragile to let him concede ever having made any kind of error,” Krugman writes. “And he has surrounded himself with people who share his lack of character.”

Back in January and February, Trump insisted that coronavirus didn’t post a major threat to the United States. But the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. has since skyrocketed to more than 71,000 people, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

According to Krugman, Trump has been wrong about coronavirus time and time again — and his GOP enablers have been more than happy to encourage him.

“You sometimes hear people say that Donald Trump and his minions minimized the dangers of COVID-19, and that this misjudgment helps explain why their policy response has been so disastrously inadequate,” Krugman notes. “But this statement, while true, misses crucial aspects of what’s going on.”

The liberal economist continues, “Trump and company didn’t make a one-time mistake. They grossly minimized the pandemic and its dangers every step of the way, week after week over a period of months. And they’re still doing it.”

According to Krugman, “Observers trying to understand America’s lethally bad response to the coronavirus focus too much on Trump’s personal flaws and not enough on the character of the party he leads.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, Krugman emphasizes, Trump has been “getting bad advice” not from “obscure fringe figures,” but from “pillars of the conservative establishment with long pre-Trump careers.”

“Disdain for experts, preference for incompetent loyalists and failure to learn from experience are standard operating procedure for the whole modern GOP,” Krugman asserts. “Trump’s narcissism and solipsism are especially blatant, even flamboyant. But he isn’t an outlier; he’s more a culmination of the American right’s long-term trend toward intellectual degradation. And that degradation, more than Trump’s character, is what is leading to vast numbers of unnecessary deaths.”