In an interview with CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield on Sunday, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin referred to President Donald J. Trump’s “side shows” as secondary subjects when compared to the COVID-19 pandemic during an election year. But what other tactics does the former reality star actually possess to pull off a win Nov. 3?
Whitfield asked Goodwin, “All that we’re seeing from the president, the White House… would you call this desperation of the incumbent president trying to resist acknowledging the seriousness of his own COVID-19 infection, a crumbling American economy and widespread hardship?”
“Well, I think what’s happened because of his illness and the situation we’re in right now with the spiking of the illnesses and with the crumbling economy, he [Trump] knows that not only are the polls going down, but history shows that whenever an incumbent is running for re-election in the middle of a crisis, the crisis is the most important thing that happens,” Goodwin said. “All these other things are side shows, in a certain sense. So it was certainly in 1932 when President Hoover failed to take a national responsibility for the growing depression.”
Goodwin added, “It may have been without him getting the illness, we would have been focused on the Supreme Court or focused on law and order situations, but now the virus is the center of our election, which it should have been.”
Whitfield inquired about whether or not Goodwin felt at any point Trump might become the leader Americans deserved.
“There really was a moment there when he talked about the bipartisan support that he had gotten, that he learned a lot about this illness, that I began to think, to imagine, that maybe he would go forth and talk about the importance of how this adversity had changed him and he understood the importance of masks, and he understood the importance of social distancing and would become a national leader,” Goodwin said. “What happened to Franklin Roosevelt is when he got polio, it really did change him. It created a greater sense of humility of spirit, allowed him to connect to hear people to whom fate had dealt an unkind hand, he showed resilience to get through his own paralysis. When he comes into office, he helps the country get through their paralysis with resilience, with optimism with the future, but confronting the brutal facts. Every now and then I imagine, maybe this will happen, but obviously we saw it did not happen.”
Whitfield then showed a clip of the president’s son, Eric Trump, on the campaign trail citing “fake news” in regard to Democrats seeking to elect presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden.
“Well, there’s no argument about fake news that can compare with what the people are actually experiencing right now in terms of the virus,” Goodwin said. “Not only the numbers of those who have died, but the radiation to all their families and all their friends. You can’t take — I can’t claim that anybody’s not talking the truth about that. And I think in the end, undermining the trust in our democracy is the most important thing we have to fight for right now. The power of democracy is the power of the ordinary vote and people have fought for generations, when you think about the revolution, you think about the women’s suffrage movement, Selma, Alabama, lives were given to make that right to vote not be suppressed as it’s being suppressed now. That’s what we should be fighting right now. Not all these distractions about taxes or fake news. Tt’s the reality of the situation we’re in right now. This virus has to get under control before we can even get our country back. And the answer is for people to vote – and to vote without suppression and make sure they get to the polls.”
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