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A President And Dead Americans

December 11, 2020

Younger Americans might not be aware, that at times of loss of life of our fellow citizens, our presidents have spoken to the nation and aided in the comforting. That has happened time, and again, over the span of our history.

President Benjamin Harrison had his thoughts published following the Johnstown flood.

When such calamitous visitations fall upon any section of our country we can only put about the dark picture the golden border of love and charity. It is in such fires as this that the brotherhood of men is welded. And where more appropriately than here at the national capital can we give expression to that sympathy and brotherhood which is now so strongly appealed to by the distress of large bodies of our fellow-citizens?

Presidents have been so aware of the impact lives lost will have on the nation, as in the case of the Apollo 11 crew, Richard Nixon even had a backup speech ready in case the worst outcome happened.

So it is far beyond the pale that this week our nation saw in just one day, the deaths of 3,054 Americans, and the sitting president said nothing to the citizenry. It was last weekend Donald Trump stood before a campaign rally in Georgia for their upcoming senate elections and proudly claimed he had been working at contesting the election results. “I’ve probably worked harder in the last three weeks than I have in my life. Doing this.”

A national public health crisis has ravaged communities and hospitals coast-to-coast for months and Trump finds his hardest working weeks the ones he has made efforts to undermine democracy.

In late February, there were just a few dozen known cases in the United States, most of them linked to travel. But by summer, the virus had torn through every state, infecting more people than the combined populations of Connecticut and Oklahoma. And as of today (this posting), the national death toll has exceeded 294,300.

It is hard to compute the number of 3,054 people who died in one day. Let me put that in some historical context. That’s 77 more victims than died on 9/11. And since we honored Pearl Harbor this week let us recognize that the loss of life in just one day this week to COVID was 651 more people than died at Pearl Harbor in 1941. And yes, more than the loss of life in the Johnstown flood which started this post.

But that volume of life is being lost in this nation every day, as of late, due to the pandemic. What accounts, then, for the lack of any empathy or leadership from Trump and this White House?

At our dinner table this week that topic was something James and I talked about. With the black-and-white video footage from Pearl Harbor showing ships smoking I made the comment that the tech-laden emergency rooms, after these many months making news, might not have the photographic punch they once did. Does this White House, for all of its apathetic and cowardly handling of the pandemic, think they can skirt over the corpses and national suffering as they leave power?

Trump may not speak to a bereaved nation, but he does, however, make fun of the suffering. As we have read the numbers of hospitalized cases are increasing at a rate that staff is not able to assist them all, and space is not available. Such as in Reno, Nevada at the Renown Regional Medical Center. That is why it was disgusting to learn that Trump retweeted that the garage conversion was fake…which of course, it was not.

Winston Churchill perhaps best makes my case with a few words in his quote, “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.”

He meant it literally, of course. But it can also be understood that he was acting in such a way as a leader and statesman that the gravity of his actions would lead all to conclude he had done his job appropriately. Trump has not worked to make the public feel like any leadership exists in Washington or that government can solve this problem. That is, of course, the Darwinian side of the conservative movement, which is most vile. It is why Trump and those conservatives who have bowed to him, will be held in such contempt by historians.

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