I never could have imagined, as a Richard Nixon history buff, that there could be an objective statement such as the headline to this post. But today the headline can be posted, and stated factually.
Famed Watergate newspaper reporter and author Bob Woodward revealed in stunning clarity, with both words and tapes, that Trump knowingly minimized the risks of the coronavirus to the American public. I awoke this morning to the news that the death toll in the nation nears 191,000 from the pandemic. Throughout the day reports about Woodward’s new book, Rage, which showcases the lack of gravitas Trump demonstrated as a response to the deadly virus, places that morning headline into a new and most jarring context.
It is one thing to assume that Trump is lacking in the human qualities one needs to have so to be effective in the Oval Office, and quite another to hear the selfish meanderings of Trump himself about the virus. Without any regard for the dire nature of the virus, or the all-encompassing role the federal government needed to take so to square its shoulders and defeat COVID-19, Trump instead took a knee. In so doing, he allowed American deaths to soar, the national economy to implode with staggering unemployment and severe business losses.
Trump is on tape talking to Woodward stating, “This is deadly stuff. You can just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”
Then he had the audacity to stand before the nation and claim the most idiotic and appalling statements ranging from the virus will just disappear, the summer heat will limit its spread, and on national television asked that the White House coronavirus task force investigate whether a disinfectant could be injected as a treatment. This is far more dangerous than the constitutional crisis that Nixon waged on the nation.
We all know how the virus would have been handled if Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, or George Herbert Walker Bush had been sitting in the Oval Office. Every available apparatus in the federal government would have been ramped up and placed into motion so to stem the spread of the virus. And each one of those leaders would have leveled with the public and not treated the pandemic in self-serving political contexts, as Trump did repeatedly.
The total and complete collapse of leadership from Trump can be encapsulated with his comments on January 22 when asked about the need to worry about a pandemic. He stated, “No, not at all. We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
In the days of history when there was some honor left in the Republican Party we know serious members of the party knew the county came first. History records one of those shining examples when Senators Barry Goldwater, Hugh Scott, and Congressman John Rhodes visited the Nixon White House in August 1974. They were there to tell the president that there was not support for him or his actions up on the Hill. Watergate had to come to an end.
Today at this blogger’s desk I wonder where the current Barry Goldwater is within the Republican Party? As a Nixon history buff I underscore my question with a quote from the Arizonian.
“We can be lied to only so many times,” Goldwater told fellow Senate Republicans. “The best thing that [Nixon] can do for the country is to get the hell out of the White House.” Goldwater believed his defiance would kill him politically, “but I don’t care.”
That is the type of congressional leadership we once had when the person in the Oval Office acted recklessly with the reins of power. The Watergate tapes from the Nixon White House were powerful and highly troubling. The taped words from Trump about a deadly pandemic even more so.
Who will step up and speak that truth from within the Republican Party?