Of all of the president’s lies, and he is a virtuoso prevaricator, the excuse he offered today at a presser explaining away the revelations in Bob Woodward’s new book (backed up by recorded, on-the-record interviews) about his decision not to share with the public what he knew about COVID-19 early in the pandemic is perhaps the most outrageous (per The Hill):
In the recordings, the president privately acknowledged that COVID-19 was “deadly” in early February, despite publicly dismissing concerns about the virus around that time.
“If you said in order to reduce panic, perhaps that’s so,” Trump said Wednesday afternoon when asked if he downplayed the virus or misled the public to avoid panic.
“The fact is I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country,” Trump continued. “I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic, as you say, and certainly I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy.”
I don’t want people to be frightened. This — coming from the man who inspired an earlier Woodward book titled Fear, whose inaugural address was a dark meditation on “American carnage,” and whose entire political career is based on convincing Americans everything they care about is in danger of extinction at the hands of his enemies — is not a very credible candidate for a Man of Peace seeking to pour oil on troubled waters. His claim was all too much for Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler, who only had to go back a few days to find choice example of Trump fearmongering:
“Radical justices will erase the Second Amendment, silence political speech and require taxpayers to fund extreme late-term abortion. They will give unelected bureaucrats the power to destroy millions of American jobs. They will remove the words ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance. They will unilaterally declare the death penalty unconstitutional, even for the most depraved mass murderers. They will erase national borders, cripple police departments and grant new protections to anarchists, rioters, violent criminals and terrorists.”
— Sept. 9
“Joe Biden and the radical, socialist Democrats would immediately collapse the economy. If they got in, they would collapse it. You’ll have a crash the likes of which you’ve never seen before. Your stocks, your 401(k)s.”
— Sept. 7
“Biden wants to surrender our country to the virus, he wants to surrender our families to the violent left-wing mob, and he wants to surrender our jobs to China — our jobs and our economic well-being.”
— Sept. 7
Kessler added as a general observation:
[Trump’s] YouTube video channel is filled with apocalyptic images of violence, economic despair and disaster. So are the president’s speeches and news availabilities, including at the same venue where he said he did not want to create panic.
Kessler doesn’t have to say much to convince me. I somehow recently became a recipient of Trump campaign text messages, and they offer a steady diet of terroristic threats about the rioters and looters Biden and his Democrats are sending my way. And I don’t even live in a suburb.
Trump’s regular fearmongering and panic-inducement seems to be built into his very persona, but it’s especially dominant now that he is trying to turn an election likely to serve as a referendum on his presidency into a “choice” election in which Uncle Joe Biden is depicted as some sort of cross between Mister Magoo and Fidel Castro. An important part of the presidency on which he is being judged, of course, is his handling of COVID-19, which he now admits, and even insists, was based on public dishonesty from the get-go. I’m sure those who lost friends and family in the early days of the pandemic because they had no way to understand its seriousness will be comforted to hear that POTUS just didn’t want them to be “frightened” about the most frightening public-health challenge in over a century.