Beyond the Classics Comic Book Version

in a hole

New York Times, Inside Trump’s Failure: The Rush to Abandon Leadership Role on the Virus. The roots of the nation’s current inability to control the pandemic can be traced to mid-April, when the White House embraced overly rosy projections to proclaim victory and move on

Both lawyers and historians know there is a classics comic book version of events—where there are no shades of gray, and 256 colors are reduced to eight or so—and then, there is a more nuanced version of what actually happened.

The classics comic book version is that Trump and his enablers had a choice between science and magical thinking—and came down definitively on the magical thinking side.

The Times presents a more nuanced version. Please read it for yourself, if interested. But I’ll summarize a key part. In the Times’s telling, there was significant conflict between Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci. I think we all know what Dr. Fauci’s views are. Dr. Birx, also a highly credentialed medical scientist, placed great emphasis on (relatively) optimistic models—models that proved erroneous, in large measure because they incorrectly assumed that the public would almost always behave sensibly, not like jerks.

Thus, in the Times’s telling, a big source of the debacle was not the Trump team’s rejection of science as such, but instead their acceptance of the wrong scientist.

Of course, Trump’s magical thinking, sociopathy, encouragement of anti-social behavior, and failure of leadership all played important roles. But, alas, he had some help from an able and dedicated scientist who was too optimistic and too interested in being in the middle of the policy making process.

And where are we in mid-July?

We are at a point whether the magical thinking and optimistic models are thoroughly discredited. A point where Trump and his cronies have well and truly dug their hole. Bigly.

And what will they do?

Probably, they will keep on digging.

Because everybody knows that, when you are in a hole, you just need to dig some more.