A Sower of Chaos

Trump says he “calls the shots” and that he will soon decide when he will reopen the country.  As some comedians used to say, “Not so fast…” or, as the old line in western movies went, “Just hold on there a minute pardner…”  When Trump was called out by reporters on whether he had the legal authority to reopen the country, Trump, of course, insisted that he did have the authority and later said on Twitter, “For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors’ decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States and the Federal Government.  Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect.  It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons.”  The good thing for Trump about Twitter is that it doesn’t ask pesky, impertinent questions and he is preaching to his choir.  The bad thing is that he writes foolish, off-the-cuff nonsense, usually in poor grammar, with a plethora of misspelled words and punctuation mistakes, all of which are his true, unfiltered, untempered, unwise, uneducated thought.  

The fact of the matter is that there is a huge legal question concerning his power to “reopen” the country.  Even one of the expert witnesses who testified for him in his impeachment trial, Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University, said:  “There is no authority for a president to order states to ‘open up’ if the state believes that such an order would be inimical to public health.  The president had no authority to order a national lockdown and certainly does not have authority to now order the lifting of such orders issued by governors.”

Trump craves power, but hates accepting fault.  In the same briefing (which was turned into a Trump campaign rally), Trump refused to answer or belligerently evaded questions about his failure to act promptly and decisively to curb the virus during the key month of February.  

Careful, reasonable, constructive political leaders are never anxious to create unnecessary and uncertain legal battles when they are trying to solve important problems affecting the public.  Rather, they try to find common ground and deal with the problem.  Anything else is a counterproductive distraction.  

Trump sees the problem as being one of whether he has the ultimate power to do whatever he wants.  The governors, mayors and county judges see the problem as a public health and economic crisis that requires a unified solution.  True, some governors are clearly calibrating their actions to stay in step with Trump, but no responsible politician wants to have red states with one set of rules and blue states with another.  

Trump would have been better served if he had said he and all the governors would confer with each other and with health experts to come up with a unified plan.  At this moment, we don’t need a constitutional crisis on top of the real crisis we are dealing with.

To make sure that we will stay tuned to him, Trump retweeted a #FireFauci tweet posted by a former Republican congressional candidate, DeAnna Lorraine.  This immediately led to rampant speculation that Trump intended to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, the only credible voice that has emerged during this pandemic.  Trump said he intentionally retweeted the negative opinion of Fauci, but that he didn’t intend to fire Fauci. He expressed no regret for retweeting the negative opinion and went on to say he thought controversy was a good thing.  A White House spokesman later said, “This media chatter is ridiculous…”, implying that Trump had played no part in creating the chaos. 

While this health crisis has been all consuming to most of us, Trump found the time to fire Michael Atkinson.  Atkinson was the Inspector General who informed Congress that a whistleblower had filed a complaint concerning Trump’s infamous call with the Ukrainian president which led to Trump’s impeachment.  Atkinson, Dr. Fauci and many, many others have found the price of doing their jobs to be exceedingly high, too high for most. 

The real problems we face are hard enough without the chaos created by Trump.  Imagine for a moment what it would be like if we could just focus on the pandemic without having to worry over, cuss and discuss what Trump thought, said, did, didn’t do, or might do.