The reason I have been so comfortable with the eccentric presidency of Donald Trump is because he has succeeded in ways that are important to me, and where he can be said to have failed, it is in matters to which I’m largely indifferent.
Trump has a far more realistic sense of the world than most elites and experts. He was right about globalism, nationalism, borders, regulations, China, and taxes. He is good at fixing things and making things work and making decisions. He is not, like Obama and his professorial ilk, an incompetent man snakebit by a false academic sense of the world.
What Trump has not done is he has not accepted the moral duties of a president as generally understood. Even though he has been far tougher on the world’s tyrants than Obama was, he talks about them as if they were great guys. He “fell in love” with Kim Jong Un, a murderous psychopath. He has repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin, a gangster. He believes in the power of his relationships, and gives no care to the moral message these careless statements send.
I think this is a legitimate criticism of him. I don’t dismiss it. I just personally don’t care very much about it. I don’t take my moral cues from politicians. I think most of them are moral buffoons. Trump does the right thing most of the time, no matter what he says.
Which brings me to the Chinese Flu. I think Trump has done a good job. He has done pretty much what he had to do. I think he has kept the federal government in check during a crisis. He has created no new agencies and has not tried to seize power from the states. This, in my personal book of concerns, is an act of near greatness.
I have trusted him in his decisions – not because I think he was sent by God to save our nation (though he might have been. You’d have to check with God). I have trusted him because his interests are aligned with mine. He is not some right-wing ideologue willing to watch millions die to make an obscure point about liberty. He is not some left-wing idiot willing to let the economy crash to “save even one life.” It is in his interest to keep the death toll as low as possible and to open up the economy as soon as possible, and he seems to be trying to do that while allowing each state to make its own way according to their situation. Nice going, President the Donald!
Should he have shut down the economy at all? Well, look at it this way. There were two op-eds in Friday’s Wall Street Journal. One, by Joseph C. Sternberg, makes the case we shouldn’t have locked down: herd immunity, no change in the ultimate death toll, the brutal cost of depression. The other, by Lee Siegel, reminds us what we thought of the corrupt mayor in “Jaws,” who refuses to harm the city’s economy and thereby sentences the locals to death.
Every single leader in the civilized world ultimately made the same decision Trump made. The differences and many of the outcomes were largely dependent on how culturally homogenous their nations were. In Sweden, where everyone looks exactly the same and is named Sven, leaders can just ask people to act responsibly and they will. In countries where no one understands or trusts one another, like ours, you don’t have that luxury.
So if everyone listening to the best experts with the most information shut down, the chance is that Angry Twitter Guy who read three articles confirming his already-formed opinion would also have shut down if he had been in their position. In other words, even if the decision was wrong, it’s the one virtually everyone would have made. We know this, because virtually everyone did. Which means Angry Twitter Guy, who thinks it’s “outrageous” and “insane,” only thinks that because he’s Angry Twitter Guy, and not the president of anything.
There’s a lot of Outrage Noise out there. Some of it is justified. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer are jerks. Cops shouldn’t arrest people for breaking overbearing, unAmerican rules. Reporters should can the Trump hate and just try to get us the best information. Comedians should stop making fun of people who don’t make their millions and want to get back to work. Oh, and I spit on Brian Stelter and his girly-man tears. He should be slapped. On air.
But beyond the noise, what has actually happened – the shut down, the move to restart with proper precautions – these are the sad but probably inevitable results of a tragic occurrence.
Fortitude in the face of them is a virtue.
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