The moral failing of leadership was apparent long before the Woodward book. Donald Trump’s actions and inactions have led to more sickness and more death than would have otherwise occurred.
To take just two obvious examples: his cavalier-to-hostile attitudes about face coverings and physical distancing have killed people. There are many, many other examples. That doesn’t mean that the administration hasn’t done some positive things to combat the virus, but the mistakes — often made out of breathtaking incompetence and misguided political calculation — loom larger. Those are errors of judgment and indecency that Mr. Trump and his enablers such as Sen. David Perdue will certainly have to account for to a higher authority.
With the Atlantic article revealing his comments about those that fought and died in the Vietnam War as “suckers,” will Trump suffer further political damage with Woodward’s “60 Minutes” Sunday appearance? There are also charges from a new whistleblower, making allegations about the suppression of information on Russia and right-wing domestic threats. If true, it is perhaps the boldest whistleblower claim in the history of the administration.
The failure of Team Trump to come even close to keeping pace on fundraising with Team Biden is significant. All of this dominates the news cycles and it doesn’t take a PhD from the Trump University political science department to know that a campaign that is behind can’t afford to lose too many news cycles this close to the start of early voting.
Anyone but the staunchest Trump apologist knows that what the president said to Woodward about downplaying the virus is both symbolically and substantively the embodiment of why Trump is not the right person for the job. He’s fallen down on a key aspect of presidential leadership in a crisis, which requires serious and credible communication. The president’s most fervent defenders might dismiss this as “just words,” but what leaders say matters, or we wouldn’t remember how Lincoln, FDR and Churchill rallied their peoples at times of testing. “Never Trump,” now more than ever, is right for America.