In a column for the conservative Bulwark, novelist Richard North Patterson claimed that Donald Trump’s toxic mixture of “incompetence” and race-baiting is coming back to bite him and prevent a second term.
Making the case that “Trump is cornered,” the author said that the coronavirus pandemic exposed the fact that the president has been over his head for his entire tenure and Trump’s turn to overt racism to obscure that fact has only made matters worse.
Pointing out that the writing on the wall — by which he means polling — indicates a defeat for Trump in November, Patterson writes that the president is trying to bail out his sinking campaign by hearkening back to the racist dog whistles that served him well in 2016.
“Amid a deadly and economically ruinous pandemic, he is driving a strategy aimed only at arousing his base—chiefly by inflaming white racial grievances and cultural resentment,” he wrote before adding, “Reprising the imaginary ‘carnage’ he promised to end in his hallucinatory inaugural address, he recasts himself as Superman in a cartoon dystopia where ‘angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.’ To do so, he converts predominantly peaceful protests into an epidemic of disorder, as if this were America in 1968. But it is not 1968—or even 2016.”
Unfortunately for the president, as he wrote, attitudes about race have undergone a sea-change following the murder of Georg Floyd, and Trump’s latest attempts to make social unrest tye cornerstone of his re-election campaign is falling on deaf ears — predominantly because voters have bigger concerns about the COIVID-19 pandemic.
“Trump’s presidency has been swamped by COVID-19—yet another reason why his race-baiting, a loser in itself, is terminally deficient. The pandemic has become a metaphor for Trump’s suffocating incompetence, mendacity, and self-absorption,” he wrote.
Noting that traditional Republican strongholds like Arizona, Texas and Florida are now the country’s biggest hot spots for viral infections, Patterson said Trump led the way in downplaying the health threat and will be held accountable by voters.
“In May, a Columbia University study estimated that had the United States begun limiting social contacts one week earlier, roughly 35,000 lives would have been saved through early May; starting two weeks earlier would have prevented 1 million cases and 58,000 deaths through early May,” he explained. “But from January to mid-March, Trump dismissed the pandemic as of negligible concern. Thereafter, obsessing on how its economic impact would affect his re-election campaign, he treated COVID-19 primarily as a cultural and political problem, blaming Democrats for the public health measures his own government had prescribed.”
Noting that “pandemics don’t lie.” Patterson warned, “With Election Day looming, his mishandling of healthcare amid a pandemic is stunningly self-destructive. But Trump’s vaunted political instincts were proven illusory in 2018—when the Democrats clobbered him on . . . healthcare. Trump’s supposed genius, it transpires, cloaks an incapacity to learn.”
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