Yeah, and If We Stopped Looking at the Naked Emperor, We Wouldn’t See His Nether Regions

naked emperor

WaPo, today, 3:32 PM:

‘If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any,’ Trump says

At a roundtable Monday afternoon on protecting senior citizens during the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump had a novel response when asked about the number of covid-19 cases in the U.S.

“If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

I’ll bet that really makes those senior citizens feel protected.

The Washington Examiner Would Like You to Know that the Emperor Really Is Naked

nice threads

Actually, all the king’s loyal subjects knew, all along, that he was naked. “But,” they said to themselves, “the economy is doing well, the stock market is up, and I really like his tax cuts. And besides that, we really don’t want to give any satisfaction to the damn anti-royalists by conceding anything. Much more fun to “own” them by denying reality, which really pisses them off.”

Then, invaders were seen over the horizon. And the Dear King told all his subjects to take off their actual clothes and to don, instead, the magical invisible protective clothing that he wore.

That’s when the king’s loyal subjects decided it might be wise to rethink this thing.

Today, the Washington Examiner Editorial Board interrupts its anti-progressive screeds long enough to tell us that Trump risks creating more coronavirus panic by trying to prevent it. I quote:

Seeking to avoid panic about the spread of the coronavirus during a Feb. 26 press conference, President Trump praised his administration’s response, which he implied would mean a minimal number of cases in the United States. “When you have 15 people, and the 15, within a couple of days, is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done,” Trump said.

This past Thursday, Trump tweeted, “With approximately 100,000 CoronaVirus cases worldwide, and 3,280 deaths, the United States, because of quick action on closing our borders, has, as of now, only 129 cases (40 Americans brought in) and 11 deaths.”

So, in little more than a week, Trump went from touting 15 cases as low to claiming 129 cases and 11 deaths were low.

By the time you read this, the number of cases will surely be even higher. The only reason the U.S. number seems relatively low is that the U.S. has lagged behind other countries in testing. As testing capacity ramps up, many more cases will inevitably be found.

Trump is obviously attempting to prevent widespread panic, something that has rattled financial markets in recent weeks. But his efforts to downplay the spread of the coronavirus are more likely to accomplish the opposite and create more panic in the long term by setting false expectations.

When the public is told that the problem is under control and is being handled well, even as the number of cases continues to explode, people are more likely to conclude that the authorities are clueless and that things are spiraling out of control.

Winston Churchill’s World War II performance is so often cited as the gold standard in crisis leadership that it’s become almost cliche to bring up. But it’s worth noting that his speeches weren’t merely “rah rah” speeches about how the British were going to lick the Nazis in two weeks. Before his inspiring rally cries about victory, he famously promised “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” and “many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.” Churchill understood that, during a crisis, it’s important, even when trying to be encouraging, for leaders to build trust and prepare the population for the worst.

It’s perfectly appropriate for Trump to want to avoid widespread panic, but it would be better to do so while preparing people for the likelihood that things are going to get worse before they improve. A prudent message would communicate the following: It’s inevitable that there are going to be more cases. Given that it’s a fast-moving virus, we’ll be learning more about it each day, so that may require adjusting our approach based on what’s working and what isn’t, but we have amazing experts, doctors, and scientists in this country who have devoted their lives to studying how to respond to public health issues such as this, and we are confident that we will get through it.

If Trump keeps up his current approach of minimizing the problem, it’s only going to shred his credibility by making people dismiss his future reassurances.

His approach of downplaying coronavirus may be aimed at minimizing political blowback and calming markets, but unrealistic statements will only make matters worse on both fronts.

At this point, if coronavirus becomes a much more significant health emergency, Trump’s early statements such as, “The 15, within a couple of days, is going to be down to close to zero,” are going to be severely damaging politically. Such pronouncements will sound like President Barack Obama’s riff on the Islamic State being the “JV squad.”

As far as markets are concerned, there will be volatility as long as there is uncertainty, given the wide range of possible outcomes about the effects of coronavirus. The best way to reassure markets would be through a competent public health response. Lots of happy talk that quickly gets overtaken by events is only going to make investors more nervous.

While it’s impossible at this point for Trump to change what he’s already said on coronavirus, there is always time for him to modify his approach and adopt a more sober-minded strategy.

Knots

knots

Some of us, of a certain age and of a certain time, will remember the book published by R.D. Laing in 1972, titled Knots. (I checked. You can still buy it on Amazon; prices range between $2 and $2,128.) If you don’t know Laing’s book or don’t remember it, the illustration above will give you an idea of its contents.

Here is an update. We may call it the Naked Emperor Knot.

I am wearing a gorgeous, specially tailored, new suit of clothes.

There are many others like it in my closet.

My beloved minions all praise my wonderful wardrobe.

But the New York Times and CNN claim I am naked.

Therefore the New York Times and CNN are liars and enemies of the people.

I have 650 high level posts that remain vacant. Other jobs I need to fill number several thousand.

I will appoint only honest people, who can see that I am wearing beautiful clothing, to fill these jobs.

If you want a government job, you must convince me that you sincerely believe I am not naked.

And you must publicly testify to the beauty of my wardrobe.

Better a non-functioning government than a government filled with liars.

emperor

Emperor Berates National Media for Reporting on his Nudity; Aides Say “Lack of Discipline” Keeps Emperor from Realizing He Is Bare Ass Naked

emperor

Politico tells us this evening that Trump struggles to shake his erratic campaign habits. The New York Times lets us in on the fact that a Rocky First Weekend for Trump Troubles Even His Top Aides.

The articles speak of “lack of discipline,” of inexperience, of the absence of people around The Donald who have the finesse and guts to tell him no. And another, from the Washington Monthly, speculates that Trump and his press secretary are “gaslighting the press.”

Folks, “discipline” is not the damn mot juste here. There is an old idiom that speaks of a person who “doesn’t have sense enough to get out of the rain.” But before you exert the discipline to walk through the front door, you need to bloody well perceive that it’s raining.

This from the New York Times story White House Pushes “Alternative Facts. Here Are the Real Ones.

Mr. Trump said that though he had been “hit by a couple of drops” of rain as he began his address on Inauguration Day, the sky soon cleared. “And the truth is, it stopped immediately, and then became sunny,” he said. “And I walked off, and it poured after I left. It poured.”

The truth is that it began to rain lightly almost exactly as Mr. Trump began to speak and continued to do so throughout his remarks, which lasted about 18 minutes, and after he finished.

He could not take in that it rained.

The Times article goes on to lay out a number of other alternative realities, including much more detail on the crowd size issue and Trump’s erroneous perception of things. Trump is quoted as saying he saw the crowds stretching back to the Washington Monument. I am very much afraid he saw exactly that, even though the photos show no such thing. Large accompanying photographs tell the non-alternative facts about the crowd size.

For God’s sake, listen to what comes out of the man’s mouth about what he thinks he is seeing.

No one wants to admit that we have elected a mentally disturbed person. I don’t want to believe it. I would be overjoyed to see Trump solve his erratic behavior problem by exercising will power, listening to wise counsel, and gaining experience.

I would even be somewhat relieved if I thought that Trump had developed a rational, albeit evil, plan to “gaslight the press.”

But people had better wrap their heads around the fact that this emperor has no clothes, and they need to do it sooner rather than later.