Trump Meets Nemesis, Punisher of Hubris

A virus exposes the folly of what the president’s base believes.

Comments: 313

  1. As for your last paragraph; it's why, in a way, I like Coronavirus. It shows us that MOTHER NATURE IS IN CHARGE HERE ON PLANET EARTH. That will never, ever change. Seems there are many people; indeed Trump's "base" would qualify; who need to be reminded of that.

  2. @Surfrank -- Trump and his supporters will recognize as a force of nature the coronavirus is, so they can deny all responsibility. And Trump will simultaneously claim 'climate change' is "a Chinese hoax". And find no contradiction in doing so. The only difference is the 'climate change' catastrophe will happen over a few decades, instead of a few weeks. We are too little, and too late addressing -both- of these natural forces. Thanks, Trump.

  3. Well put. Mother Nature bats last and she swings a big stick.

  4. @Surfrank The revenge of the pangolins. I don't feel hopeful that we will change our view that we dominate Nature. Part of trump's base doesn't have health insurance nor enough food to eat as it is. This coud finally wake them up. Sorry to say so. Biden should be "holding press conferences" so to speak, the public needs to see how a sane individual would handle the crisis.

  5. And yet, Bret, you say you would vote for a third party candidate if Sanders gets the Democratic Party’s nomination.

  6. @Paul Ruszczyk Sulk, whine, and vote for Jill Stein! That’s what Bernie Bros do. They said Clinton would be as bad or worse than Trump. I’m sure they’d sooner have Trump in control now.

  7. @nickdastardly I voted for Dr. Stein over warmonger/Wall Street darling Hillary, and I'd do it again if Biden is the nominee. The 99% are hurting. Biden is a 1%er stooge, just like Trump, Bush, Hillary, etc.

  8. @Paul Ruszczyk Sanders won't, so your point is moot.

  9. I fervently hope that the coronavirus, Trump, and the Republican Senate majority will all be gone by the end of the year (in that order). But what about Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the rest of the radical right? How long will millions of Americans continue to believe in Fox News, and consider any other source to be Fake News? Will Nemesis come for them too?

  10. @RF "But what about Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the rest of the radical right?" If there are people doing even more damage to America than Trump it is these folks -- Limbaugh, Hannity, and right-wing "hate" media. Following Trump's declaration of a national emergency, what is the chance that his famous base will be reminded that the President called this epidemic a "hoax by mainstream media" just about a week ago? It is important to remind them of this ad infinitum until they understand how their man really "calls it like it is".

  11. People get (a country gets) the government it deserves. Let's hope it's not too late to change that course, that direction, and get us back on track to be the 'leader of the free world'...which it so desperately needs right now.

  12. @CRL , history is replete with nations and peoples held by a well armed and supported elite—feudalism but one vast example. Police states can in fact control, terrorize, and even genocide people who by no means deserved it. Gangs run armed militias and cartels control countrysides, and even in democracies, corruption can pervert the will of the people. And now such minorities of power have instruments of surveillance and suppression as never before. While the idea that everything is really somehow just, that’s not reality, and thinking it is leads to a wrong apportionment of blame. In any case, we have to do all that’s in us to turn the tide while we can.

  13. While discussing the Exodus story during Torah study some years ago, the question the hapless Egyptians who suffered for Pharaoh's stubbornness came up. Why were those innocent people punished for the leader's crimes? It was not the first time the question came up--the problem is literally written into the Passover Seder. The rabbi leading the discussion gave an answer that has stuck with me. He pointed out that this is what has happened throughout history: the decisions our leaders make, regardless of form of government and for better or worse, have fearful implications for the people. This column focuses on the hubris of our troubled country's nominal leader. That is not where our attention should be. Rather, we should turn our attention to the millions of innocent people who will suffer in so many ways because of that hubris. How do we help them as we all struggle through this pandemic?

  14. @Pesele Nice story but the exodus never happened. Read the new torah. It is based on facts (no myths allowed.) In fact semites were expelled from egypt twice. Once in the 16th century bce and again in the 12th. The latter became the basis of exodus mythology. Read Jan Assman on this.

  15. Finally, at long last, an opinion piece by Bret Stephens that I agree with totally. I guess miracles can happen!

  16. @Doug T Isn't it the limit--it's so hard to agree with him. I've never heard of so many faulty premises for his (usually off-the-mark) opinions

  17. Except the tidbit of taking advice from Netanyahu that he managed to slip in there. It’s tough for Stephens to write a clean OpEd.

  18. Having said all that, the fact remains that his supporters, 50 million or so of them, still support him. Which leaves America with a rather vexing problem.

  19. @Lkf True that. Their continued loyalty is the second biggest elephant in the room, continuing to creep in the shadows unnoticed. And the first? It's the belief that he is finished when more Americans vote against him than for him. That's not true. It's electoral votes, and we're not even thinking of that. Don't take my word for it. Ask around, ask yourself, how many electoral votes it will take to rid us of this national nightmare. Nobody knows. And why should they? His most fervent opposition lives in communities and states where everyone they know feels the same way. It's easy to think this one's in the bag, and campaign to win more blue votes in already-blue states. Surely flipping the red states of 2016 to the blue column is the white-hot core of Democratic Party strategy, right? So today I called the DNC to ask how I can help do this. Their advice? Call my state's Democratic Party, they said. Seriously. Ways to go before we have won the right to think about getting rid of him. Ways to go. PS It's 270. The only number that counts.

  20. @Lkf What about the 200 million OTHER American adults who do NOT support him? Why is a quarter -- 25% -- of the adult American population "rather vexing" and so much a problem for so many people? I just don't get it . . . except that it's the segment of the population we read about the most as though they really "own" the place. There's a clue. But . . . Honestly.

  21. This. I had to explain to my Fox News watching mother and sister why it was it was critical that we need to test for Covid-19. Sigh.

  22. This presidency was exposed for what is a long time, Mr. Stephens was either in denial or not paying attention.

  23. @Christopher Johnston Stephens is/was a Never Trumper. This column has more to do with what COVID-19 might make clear to Trump's base than the somewhat low regard Stephens has generally held him in.

  24. @Paul Davis Never Trumper? Really? Stephens said that if Bernie Sanders becomes the Democratic nominee this year, he will vote for a third party. That's as stupid as a Bernie Bro not voting for Biden if he's nominated.

  25. An excellent piece. This episode has shown the narcissist emperor to be a total incompetent without a stitch of clothing, and totally fixated only on his political survival, rather than the good of the nation. I am sure, now that the medical experts and business leaders have come to his rescue this afternoon, that he'll simply revert to habit and shoot down any attempt at bipartisan legislation to avert more disaster for the general populace.

  26. Another of Trump's most notorious "alternative facts" is his denial of the human contributions to climate change. And one silver lining of covid-19 is that the sharp drop in air travel will lessen greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This may give us just the time we need to come to our senses and do everything needed to preserve the life of our planet.

  27. When this is over Trump will claim that after spending so much on decimating the virus, there are no funds left for controlling the environment.

  28. @Richard Waugaman, M.D. — air travel is not the main source of greenhouse gasses. In the short term we will see a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as the global economy grinds to a halt. But the same downturn will slow the transition to renewable, carbon-neutral energy resources. Not a desirable outcome.

  29. @Oron Brokman-Or for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

  30. COVID-19 doesn't discriminate on the basis of gender, color aka race, ethnicity, national origin, faith, education, economics and politics. Being fruitful and multiplying among it's animal hosts including the one and only human primate ape species that began in Africa 300, 000+ years ago is COVID-19's biological evolutionary fit natural science goal. Nature is neither benign nor malign. It just is.

  31. @Blackmamba -- "COVID-19 doesn't discriminate on the basis of gender, [etc etc]". Actually, we're not so sure on gender. An article in Lancet (https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30526-2/fulltext) notes that, while a comprehensive gender-breakdown has not yet been undertaken, there is some data suggesting that the mortality and vulnerability is higher for males. And COVID-19 certainly discriminates on the basis of age. So, old men (eg, ________ [fill in your favourite old man]), beware Nemesis!

  32. Di is this an effective population explosion control?

  33. And thus, the power of reality and its predicate facts have caught up with and are now destroying trump’s fantastic vision of a world to be controlled by his angry pronouncements in the service of his now ill fated hubris. Nor could this reckoning have come too soon. The God like image trump saw of himself has been shattered.

  34. Unfortunately, no hocus locus for trumping POTUS. He will continue pretending that he is god and many will continue bowing to him. Nothing will shutter him.

  35. I agree with every paragraph here – a first for me as far as Mr. Stephen's column is concerned. However, the thought that millions of Trump's supporters "care now" fails to recognize their advanced state of cognitive dissonance.

  36. @Mr. Jones Sorry to be a bore, but I have to point out that what you wrote means that, no, you do not agree with every paragraph in Mr. Stephens' column. :) I am with you on your main premise though. The state of cognitive dissonance/wishful thinking, whatever it is really, of Trump's core base is far too advanced for them to start "caring" now, based on his failure to respond to the pandemics. You and I, and Mr. Stephens are seeing it is a "failure". They are not. I was listening to our Commander-in-Chief's press conference while driving today. I made an effort to try and interpret what I was hearing as though I was his supporter, somebody who had been believing every word coming out of his mouth so far. I had no trouble imagining all his words sounding competent and reassuring to his base. The response has been timely and tremendous. We already have enough test kits, and there will be even more. We've been closing borders and cutting red tape like nobody's business, like no other administration in the history of the country... People would need to start dropping like flies around them, for them to start having any doubts. And even then, Hannity and Limbaugh will explain to them that, ok, it wasn't a hoax after all - but it sure is a secret liberal biological weapon.

  37. @Leonid Andreyev I agree Leonid, I had the same thoughts today while listening......

  38. @Mr. Jones I think a lot depends on how long it goes on and how bad it gets. Even t supporters might begin to wonder if emergency rooms get ugly and care is rationed. But it is far from certain that even the unnecessary deaths of loved ones can break the chains of their faith, which, after all, is forged in the fires of ignorance and blame.

  39. Even for those among us who are highly secular--believing in the power of neither Greek gods nor more conventional divinities, it's difficult to rule out divine providential intervention at this point in the election cycle--intervention that may be intended to expose Trump's incompetence, ignorance and narcissism at a time of national crisis and to lay the way for his rejection for another term in November. Coincidence? Maybe. Whatever it takes.

  40. @samsolomon -- I'm not ready to count 'divine providential intervention' right yet. But if one of Trump's repeated exposures to possible carries should happen to 'catch', perhaps we will see a divine intervention yet.

  41. @samsolomon Agreed. I too am highly secular, probably a true atheist though I can’t help at times think that the laws of nature and the concept of Karma may have some loose, as-of-yet fully understood intermingling relationship. Newton’s Third Law says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction but sometimes that reaction takes time, maybe a lifetime, to fully materialize. Trump is a man who has continued to defy the laws of society and the mutually cooperative nature of human evolution for decades with no real consequences and it feels to me that now that he’s stacked his hubristic poker chips so arrogantly and brazenly high, Karma or Nature is finally crashing his mountain of stolen chips and cashing in on 70 years of outright defiance. I don’t know; maybe it’s all just my usual philosophical bird droppings but I hope you’re right.

  42. Trump has taken direct action to limit the response to the virus, hampering efforts to expand testing and continually lying about the danger to Americans. We are well in to the unconstrained spread of the virus as a result - nothing about the actions today changes that. There will be thousands of additional, unnecessary deaths in the U.S. as a result. Some are in denial about this, but it is extremely likely. Current death rate estimates indicate that it could be many, many thousands. There is are words we have used to describe those of our own who commit acts that result in the senseless death of thousands of innocent citizens. And those words should be forever associated with the name Donald J. Trump.

  43. Trump is still avoidiing a test and shaking hands in full view of cameras. Whenever he issue forced to say something approximately presidential or concede something to experts or Congress he always makes sure to undercut the words he feels pressured into saying. He has to remind everyone he is "in control" at all times. Public health is not nearly as important as his delusions of power. Trump University is still teaching Gangster 101.

  44. @Alan "Trump is still avoiding a test and shaking hands in full view of cameras. " We need more solar eclipses for him to stare at.

  45. @Alan ~ "Trump is still avoiding a test and shaking hands in full view of cameras." Political grandstanding at its worst!

  46. @Doug McKenna , we might consider that he’s not immune to a virus just because he’s him—even though he thinks so.

  47. If this virus becomes the devastation that's been predicted by experts, the democratic nominee must show Trump video calling this a "hoax", in their political ads. Trump cannot spin this the way he wants, but that won't stop him from trying. The press conference displayed a deer in headlights effect on his face.

  48. @Stephen -- agree, and the ads should also have a clip of him saying he takes no responsibility. And maybe of him saying he didn't do it, about shutting down the pandemic office.

  49. @Stephen If the Dem campaign were to hire me for campaign ad ideas, I would be sure to include the clip of him saying that he would rather keep a ship full of Americans at sea for an indefinite period of time because if any infected people come ashore it would mess up his "numbers." Are people dying? Too bad so sad, we cannot mess up the numbers that he imagines will get him re-elected!

  50. Nice thought, but there's not enough air time between now and the election to broadcast all the blatent lies Trump has told. Not that it wouldn't be nice if someone tried.

  51. I recently read that two of his supporters were among those stuck on the Grand Princess and were ‘shocked’, genuinely so (unlike Captain Renault in Casablanca) that Trump actually tried to prevent the ship from docking because it will run up ‘his numbers’. Is this kind of extreme personal experience what it takes for his supporters to wake up ? It would seem so, although I honestly doubt it will change anything come November, unless the economy remains in freefall by then. After all, things have to be really bad for many voters to grudgingly say, let’s try that other party, only to run back to the old habits the moment the situation improves. Sometimes I despair that anything will change ... except for the younger generations, who seem to have a far clearer head on their shoulders, because they are the ones who will inherit this Earth.

  52. @ml As a member of the late 60s "flower generation" who protested Americas greed and shallow values,not to mention a bogus war in Vietnam we are now the ones who support senseless wars and have bought into the idea that" making it" is making a boatload of money.I wish I could agree with you but I wouldn't count on the young to change anything...sorry

  53. @ml I think that will be a powerful Biden Political add later in the year.

  54. Forget the young generation. Their faces are on Facebook instead of in books.

  55. Much the same arguments could be made against professional climate change deniers -- that their vanity, hubris, financial interests and political program lead them to deny reality, with disastrous consequences for others. I wonder who that might describe?

  56. Since 2016 I have been playing a private game called "Would This Have Happened Even If There Had Been No Trump?" 90% of the time, I conclude that no, situation x would not have turned out to be as dreadful had literally anybody besides Trump been president. The coronavirus situation is no different, for the most part. But I also have to be honest with myself and realize that not everything is Trump's fault, and that he is in many ways just the amplification of problematic aspects of American culture that don't just infect (excuse the choice of words) Republicans. One of these is American exceptionalism, which is constantly being trumpeted by politicians and others of all political persuasions. If it is American, it is often The Greatest Thing Ever To Have Existed. Don't misunderstand me, I think American ideals, as well as many things about the country are supremely laudable. So I agree with...wait for it...Donald Trump about that. But I learned tonight that we have fewer hospital beds per 1000 people than Italy or South Korea, to cite just one example of a weakness in our health-care infrastructure. That is not Trump's fault. And more to the point, our unwillingness to use government power to organize the effort to fight this pandemic is mostly, but not entirely, a Republican failing. And when was the last time we banded together as a nation to accomplish much of anything besides Black Friday? When Trump is gone, we also will need to get better as a people.

  57. @Brooklynite I have heard people say "we" about the usa enough times to make me wanna die! There is no "we." It is us versus them and they are winning. Time for seriousness, brother.

  58. @Brooklynite: I agree with much of what you say. I’ve lived abroad and seen how well other countries function. I’ve been embarrassed too many times when what I thought was a new American invention turns out to have been used widely in other countries for years. But I disagree with your comment about the lack of hospital beds being the fault of *all* Americans. The dismantling of the healthcare system and the push towards for-profit medicine are largely the accomplishments of the Republican Party since the days of Reagan. Yes, Democrats could do more to counter these efforts, but I disagree that we carry much of the blame.

  59. zamerica = greedn no wonder we don't build hospitals schools roads & bridgesn they cost money in taxes, which have been demonized by the Rght (and it'ds easy to persude common folks not to give or spend their taxes on The Common Good..

  60. There must be some crafty lawyers out there who can construct a class action suit against the administration for investment, business, and personal losses as a result of their failure to adequately protect our country.

  61. Not very effective. He will go again Chapter 11. After all, he is very experienced at that.

  62. @Bronx Jon Barr would bar it.

  63. one way that the Democrats simultaneously improve this situaton and as well as their necessary healing process is very simple: let Biden and Sanders jointly agree to donate time of their campaign staff to help fill in the gaps, to flatten the curve.

  64. @vfieler, Say What?! What exactly would you have Biden and Sanders do to flatten the curve?

  65. Absurd. We don’t need political campaign staffers doling out medical care.

  66. @vfieler Donate to what, for what?

  67. This virus might be both his political and his mortal nemesis. How many events, including the rallies, has he already attended which were also attended by infected individuals? How many infected people has he already been photographed standing next to? How many infected people have shaken his hand, prepared his food? We must not limit the answer to those whom we know have tested positive. Test kits have been in such short supply that we truly have no idea how widespread the virus already is.

  68. @Robert and yet, he is still standing. Don't hold your breath. He, for one, has the best healthcare in the world.

  69. Trump and his actions never created the good economy. No president has that kind of power, even though they take credit for good times and get blamed for the bad. He is responsible for the way the US government reacted to the spread of the virus and it goes deeper than what Bret describes. This a president who is vindictive to those he thinks are crossing him, sensitive even to mild criticism. People who work for the government know that what Trump wants; it's pretty obvious. It takes some courage to pursue policies that Trump, often in ignorance, opposes. That helps explain delays in testing since Trump didn't want increases in the "numbers." Now, when Trump has finally been convinced that testing is essential because of the politics of the crisis, it is too late in some places.

  70. Trump health care and other policies and actions could not have been implemented without the support of the Republicans. Give them some credit , please...

  71. Great summary - all true. Early on Trump, was likened to Caligula, which I like, but he is morphing in Nero, I think now.

  72. @Paul Shindler Nero was the end of the Julio-Claudio dynasty. I suspect Trump wll be the end of the Reagan dynasty. Just like Nero our emperor. Donald the anointed one. fancies himself an entertainer.

  73. @PaulSchindler I think he epitomizes the worst of both, with a huge, couldn’t resist, does of the tragic, Narcissus.

  74. @Paul Shindler a quick trip to Wikipedia confirms: “He won a 10-horse chariot race, despite being thrown from the chariot and leaving the race.“

  75. Even while declaring a state of emergency he managed to counteract it somewhat with comments that supported his previous claims that it's not a big deal.

  76. @PJ He is acting like it is a big deal and he is talking in a way which makes us all feel a little better. This may seem strange to you but it is the right strategy. And I suspect you did not watch the press conference because you do not like his face. Good heavens, are we a country defended by ostriches?

  77. @Ludwig I watched the press conference today. I did not feel better. His lying and efforts at manipulation are transparent. Remember this. This man is a reality TV performer. He assembled his cast today in the Rose Garden to support his act. I also watched the Wednesday speech and the State of the Union etc etc etc. I have never felt better after watching. Worried, indignant and sad yes. Better? no.

  78. @Ludwig Acting like a big deal? Did you watch him? He was a disgrace. Shaking hands with everyone. breathing into the microphone and he has been exposed with the virus at Mar Largo and at CPAC and he is doing no self quarantine possibly infected others because he refuses to be tested.

  79. "Who could have know that healthcare could be so complicated" That was 3 years ago. Now we have a full blown national healthcare crisis. The lack of planning, and honesty, is certainly making this more complicated than even a stable genius can handle.

  80. @Marco Polo - what he said was "NOBODY knew healthcare could be so complicated" - same sentiment, but phrased as a lie.

  81. And are his supporters forgetting about his beautiful new healthcare plan he was keeping secret during his campaign in 2016? Any one who votes for him in Nov is hateful, stupid or both. And that voter hates this country.

  82. A little schadenfreude may feel good, but we are a long way from getting out of this. One primary election has already been delayed. Who is to say that, with the declaration of a national emergency, the General Election might not also be delayed? For the good of the country, of course...

  83. Oh, that might just create some “issues.”

  84. Add to Bret's list Trump's total lack of morality, humanity and responsibility as displayed in his comments today ""No, I don't take responsibility at all" for the lack of robust testing for the virus, or "I didn't do it" on the disbanding of the Pandemics Office. Trump and his party of bereft of decency and lack any sense of leadership in a crisis.

  85. @W.Schafer Does this bring to anyones mind the singular lesson about Gerge Washington we were fed with mothers milk as children...the story about the Cherry Tree...and "I cannot tell a lie...."

  86. Trump's primary motive in dealing with this virus has been to slow the fall of the Dow, not contain the spread of the disease. In doing so, the markets have continued to drop because Wall Street knew he was taking the exact wrong actions at every single turn. This week on the Dow's worst day since 1987 the Fed threw money at the problem, which caused it to temporarily rise before cratering again. The next day Trump declares a national emergency, announces plans to pool government resources to battle this, and shows a whole of government approach. The markets skyrocketed. The point: Let the markets do what they'll do. The governments job is to protect citizens. Investors are concerned with making a buck and will react accordingly. Lowering interest rates or offering tax cuts (the only tool republicans seem to know how to wield) doesn't do anything to stop a virus, so of course Wall St. saw a leadership vacuum and complete incompetence coming from DC. The day trump decided - for the first time in his presidency - to act in regards to the well being of all citizens and not just his base or the market, he was rewarded on all fronts. So now can well kill the notion that a businessman can fix DC, and government is pointless and should be shredded to nothing? Mobilizing massive government resources is the only way to solve this problem, and the entire republican platform has been working to slash the very programs designed to keep us safe. Hubris indeed.

  87. When he was asked about the deal working its way through Congress Trump actually said that it had been delayed because the Democrats were arguing to spend less and that the Republicans were fighting for a larger amount of aid. This of course, is exactly the opposite of the truth. In addition to shaking every hand he could, he just lied through his teeth about everything imaginable.

  88. @Texas Democrat Ι´ve never heard journalists present challenge him right away, and I so wish they did. At least today he was challenged on his statement that the lack of testing was 'not his responsibility'. That's the clip the Democrats should saturate the airwaves with.

  89. @Texas Democrat The press needs to stop playing softball. Call him out on his lies! No more presidential “press conferences” just before the President gets on a helicopter.

  90. @S North Nothing would make me happier (well, maybe not "nothing") than to see see a journalist at a press conference say "Sir, that is a lie, like 75% of all the words that come from your mouth."

  91. Extremely well said. Unfortunately, my extreme uneasiness is overtaking any satisfaction taken from reading your words.

  92. I was astounded to see the medical professionals surrounding Trump shake his hand as they came to the podium to speak. Another missed opportunity to show the seriousness of the pandemic.

  93. We are part of the ultimate alternate reality game - either as those who support or those who lost. The question is whether we can fight our way back from Redemption Island and take reality back - nee - common sense. Thankfully we have things such as state's rights and corporate responsibility ( couched in liability) that took the lead on the pointy end of the spear that our president is loathe and scared to take.

  94. A quiet and persistent drumbeat that Trump and Pence must both resign, and leave the United States in the hands of Nancy Pelosi, is needed. Persistent drumbeat in the local press, nationals press, on talk shows, everywhere you turn. They must both resign.

  95. @John: Trump and Pence will never resign, but... the fact that they are being so blasé about the virus (shaking so many hands, not getting tested after being in close proximity with people who tested positive...) might result in their illness or demise by COVID-19, thus leaving the nation in the hands of the highly competent and compassionate Speaker Pelosi. If that happened, I believe many people's lives would be saved.

  96. Respectfully I have to ask: isn't that regime change through natural disaster? If resignation is needed, why change parties in the Whitehouse?

  97. @Julia LQM that's exactly what I'm thinking. Karma - the daugther of hubris.

  98. Wendell Berry wrote: "Whether we or our politicians know it or not, Nature is a party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do." I believe Berry was writing about the need to treat the Earth with respect, not pollute, address climate change, etc. But you get the point. You can't cheat the laws of biology, or physics, or chemistry, or gravity. Trump can try, but it's futile.

  99. I feel like I've read 1000 think pieces about this being the first major (non-self-inflicted) crisis on Trump's watch and that we're now paying the price. But the climate crisis has been here for years, and Trump has only made it worse. And as bad as the virus may become, the results of his inaction (and worse, given his environmental policies) will be far worse long-term.

  100. Insightful piece, I think its been said the Gods are fickle, but they're definitely not down with hubris. One can only hope.

  101. Missing from Trump's remarks is any concern for people living in other countries, people who can't vote for him, I suppose. Can't he offer a few words to the Italians and Chinese who've been effected. Can't he build our national purpose by mobilizing to help the developing world prepare?

  102. Yes, this is Trump's nemesis, but it is also America's: The folly of a market-driven healthcare system. The big announcement on national news is- the roll out of Drive-Thru COVID-19 testing and a national website allegedly linking healthcare systems throughout the U.S. Does anyone seriously believe the thousands of rural and unincorporated communities throughout America will have drive-thru testing? How many Southern States and Midwest rural communities still have the infrastructure of Public Health departments? Will private physician's staff and private hospital staff man the drive-thru? What about the millions of Americans who don't drive? Will public transportation be provided? Nothing like big pronouncements without infrastructures in place: Typical Trump.

  103. We’ve been lucky that our fairly disconnected healthcare system hasn’t blown up, until now. I was curious about quotes on luck, and found three good ones: Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect. - Ralph Waldo Emerson Luck is a very thin wire between survival and disaster, and not many people can keep their balance on it. - Hunter S. Thompson The only sure thing about luck is that it will change. - Wilson Mizner

  104. @spughie Wonderful comment and quotes. Thanks.

  105. @Candlewick -- "Nothing like big pronouncements without infrastructures in place". But don't worry. Rumour has it that the president has scheduled "Infrastructure Week" for next Monday.

  106. The assumption that Donald Trump will be visited by justice, whether poetic, mythical, or as function of the law of the land, is wishful thinking. In the world of Donald Trump, all that counts is the getaway, and he will get away. Unless reduced to penury, Donald Trump will survey his life and kingdom as a victor, especially over those who believe in things like conscience and just desserts. And he will have plenty of supporters.

  107. @Eric Caine Or perhaps all that denial and continued handshaking will result in a visit from the Coronavirus.

  108. @Eric Caine Oh, I don't know about that- the getaway. In my more generous moments, Trump strikes me as a pitiful soul who is tortured by the recognition of his own insufficiency, and his inability to reconcile his life with his flaws. Nearly every word out of his mouth telegraphs a need to prove his worth (the nephew of a super genius who 'gets it'), even as he dimly recognizes that his existence is nearly worthless in the cosmos, and his legacy will be sand castles in a rising tide. "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair." What most of us see are the failed casinos, the trail of failed personal relationships, and the grasping, pitiful, flawed homunculus who does not even have the curiosity to look into himself for fear of what he will see. Donald Trump personifies the human being who measures the value of life in monetary units and personal glory. He is a man who has probably never seen the stars, and certainly has never found consolation in them. I hate it that he is in the office of the presidency, but I pity him that his existence is less meaningful than that of my cat (who, by the way, is pretty brilliant and totally 'sorted').

  109. @Eric Caine he has shaken hands with the infected

  110. Shaking the hands was an enormously telling gaffe in my book too. But the totally incredible aspect to me was the degree that Trump turned a declaration of emergency into a political pep rally, and trumpeting his so-called accomplishments...when his dismissive attitude was a major obstacle. The first, what, 2 minutes was all about him. And when Pence started to speak, I gave up. There's a limit to the amount of brown-nosing I can stand, and he went light-years past that.

  111. @Craig Truely, Pence’s speech was nauseating and horrifying at once. How many times did he say “Mr. President” or praise the omniscient actions of our dear leader? I keep wondering who is really running this response. Some steps forward have been made but Trump certainly is not responsible for that. He is deluded and in denial. Who is pushing him in the right direction? The only time Trump makes sense is when he reads directly from a script, and he is a terrible reader. Monotone, runs sentences together; you can tell he never read aloud to his children. When he starts babbling nonsense and using whacky hyperbole, you can tell he is just making stuff up until he goes back to the script. Just painful to watch!

  112. @Craig Both Trump and Pence may well get sick from the Coronavirus. Weren't they both in a picture with some guy from Brazil holding a black hat, who tested positive for the virus? Chickens come home to roost- it just takes patience - unfortunately, the nation is paying a mighty toll for this roosting.

  113. Perhaps this whole crisis should be viewed as biblical, in that its depth and breadth are at times almost incomprehensible yet survivable at least until the next crisis appears. Hopefully, the leadership in place at that time will be capable of putting its country ahead of its own personal gain. Saddest of all is the fact that this incumbent IMPOTUS will be elected to serve another term at the helm that will most certainly destroy what's left of our democracy. Ironically, it will be those who believe in him the most will be those who will suffer the most.

  114. The slogans, Putting America First, is interpreted by quite a few Americans as not including them because of the words the President and his men use. It scares them actually.

  115. A quick perusal of my Facebook feed suggests that his supporters’ fealty remains as fierce as ever. Truly unbelievable.

  116. Considering we share a name and a general location, I could quite literally have said the same thing and am disgusted by it!

  117. @Anne This fealty comes from the same place as the fealty many people have for a long-losing professional sports team. There are a lot of confused people, in other words.

  118. @RR Except supporting your local sport's team results in nothing more than disappointment. Continuing to support trump is not only dangerous, it's now deadly.

  119. Consider all the GOP Governors that resisted and obstructed the ACA's Medicaid expansion. Will this pandemic cause a serious backlash in those states?

  120. @JUHallCLU I'm not sure most of his supporters can or will put 2 and 2 together. Apparently, only blind loyalty is acceptable to be in that club. No, it will be up to the rest of us to work to bring others in.

  121. Let me put very simply - it will be a miracle if Schengen will survive this. Open borders and pandemics do not work well together. Countries will return ALL strategic manufacturing back. The fallout of this for globalization will be HUGE.

  122. @DL : Let me put it this way. because of Europe's size and population, they believe in cooperation. They believe at some time every one needs help, and to get help, you have to give help. It is Americans who believe that they can beat anything all by themselves, especially without the help of anyone except Trump.

  123. @DL On the other hand the wall and the Muslim ban was very helpful. Sine the US has barely started testing for the virus, I would be much more nervous about what the real numbers are.

  124. @DL - wishful thinking on your part. Europe seems to be working together on this, and they will get through this. About us, I'm not sure--- the track record so far is not good.

  125. So when will the Republicans get that (1) Having the President sound either drugged or sick when he's giving a speech on a pandemic does NOT inspire confidence. (2) When the people in a press conference spend about 25 percent of their time praising the president we all know what the priorities of the federal government are. When will the Democrats get that labeling their plan "Families First" excludes all of us who are single and childless? That's particularly appalling because the most vulnerable in our society are older people, and that includes millions of single/divorced/never married women over 65 ... the type who live on a small Social Security check and not much else. Thanks to the Democratic and Republican Governors (e.g., Jay Inslee, Larry Hogan, and Andrew Cuomo) who make me feel a bit calmer.

  126. @moderation writes: "When will the Democrats get that labeling their plan "Families First" excludes all of us who are single and childless? " Well, I'm single and childless, and I have absolutely no objection to a "Families First" plan, because it still is a sensible, compassionate approach. Besides, I have parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews. They're part of my family, and whatever makes their life better makes mine better, too.

  127. @MJ. I agree. I’m single, but have grown kids, grandkids, cousins and all their significant others. Not all single people are without a family. Not by a long shot.

  128. @moderation huh you should know that when the Dems use families first their definition of family are hetersexaul marriages, gay marries, single and childless families.

  129. "President's base"? Stephens is the one who believes in small government, tax cuts for the rich solves everything and the worst words any American could ever hear are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

  130. @gratis I understand your point and to underline, after super storm Sandy at the central NJ coast we were quite happy with the arrival of FEMA...of course of the democratic Obama administration. Again, government is only as good as those who run it.

  131. @caljn No, my point is that Stephens remains true to his Conservative principle, "Do as I say, not as I do."

  132. @caljn No, my point is that Stephens has neither a moral center nor an ethical compass of any kind.. Except money.

  133. More recently Mr. Trump is actually doing a better job. So thank you Mr. President for doing better. One problem we have is that when there is a modicum of better news, or something positive from the Trump team, our media cannot bring themselves to praise or acknowledge. This is part of polarization.

  134. @NYT Reader It is not the job of the media to say "good boy" to encourage a president to do normal, president-type stuff. Presumably keeping Americans alive is what he's supposed to do, not try to alter the numbers to look like things are ok. It is the job of the media to serve up facts. Data about a pandemic are not partisan. If you insist on blaming media, have a go at Fox for letting its opinion heads call the virus a hoax, etc.

  135. @NYT Reader "Thank you Mr. President for doing better ????" This is the president of the USA. Not a two-year old pausing his tantrum. Praise a president who takes "no responsibility at all"for among other things, delaying testing in the midst of a pandemic. I must be dreaming.

  136. So you're demanding that we praise the President for not being a complete disaster? A low bar indeed.

  137. A leader is best When people barely know that he exists, Not so good when people obey and acclaim him, Worst when they despise him. 'Fail to honor people, They fail to honor you;' But of a good leader, who talks little, When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, They will all say, 'We did this ourselves.' Lao Tzu

  138. Similarly, this is Spyglass followed by a round at Cypress, with varying winds and fog. Maybe DJT only really learned about crowds and cameras on the show pony Pebble.

  139. My favorite snippet of Greek(forgive the poor transliteration) is "Gnothe sueton" or "Know thyself" -- two words expressing what Trump can and will never understand. Of course he also doesn't understand "hubris" though he is the current archetype epitomizing that particular sin. Stable genius indeed. Even Mr. Ed was a more stable genius.

  140. @Rick Green "Even Mr. Ed was a more stable genius." Thank you for that. It's hard to find something to smile about, but I did, just a little. Felt good.

  141. @Rick Green Funny though it is, I don't think anyone under the age of 65 is going to get the Mr Ed reference.

  142. @Rick Green Hey, don’t insult Mr. Ed. He was very smart—it was Wilbur who was dumb.

  143. “I don’t take any responsibility at all” - Donald Trump His base will drink the Kool-Aid if directed to. Loyalty to Trump matters more than loyalty to country, the rule of law, and the Constitution for his base which includes Congress and the 5-4 Supreme Court.

  144. @Grove I agree. The Republicans I know deeply identify with him, with the tradition of the party within their family. It's simply who they are, and to doubt or attack Trump is to doubt or attack them. Individually they are really nice people and good neighbors, living in a personal cocoon. They will vote for him again.

  145. What are Trump's major legislative accomplishments since becoming president? He has tried repeatedly to destroy Obamacare, which is designed to provide health insurance and health care to vulnerable Americans, and he has promoted tax cuts for the wealthy (including for himself). His latest budget proposal also seeks to slash funding for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He dismantled Obama's pandemic response team (presumably because Obama created it). Those without health insurance and without paid sick leave and who are in the country illegally will be averse to seeking the health care they need, including with this coronavirus. And the sick, whoever they may be, are a threat to all of us. That is why universal health care (optimally free at the point of service) is a crucial goal for the United States. We need testing and quarantines, along the lines of the examples set by Hong Kong and Singapore. We do not need to resort to the draconian measures imposed by China on its people. Hopefully America is finally getting its act together. The president needs to talk less and listen more to the experts, not the other way around. We are at a crucial tipping point in terms of the number of coronavirus deaths America will experience. There is absolutely no more time to waste.

  146. @Blue Moon Keep in mind that Medicare for All would take years to phase in. After the act passed, people 55-64 and 18 & under would be phased in the first year; the second year would phase in people 45-54; the third year would phase in people 35-44; the fourth year.... and so on. Also, M4A does not presently have the votes in the House of Representatives even among Democrats. America needs help with the coronavirus as soon as possible, but we will be waiting a year for a vaccine or several years for M4A to phase in should it pass. We need something else first.

  147. @Emily Step 1. let actuaries determine the cost of providing coverage to each age group and families. Step 1a. expand Medicare to cover ALL medical needs (including what is covered by supplemental plans, advantage plans et al. Add in vision and dental at modest charge. Step 2. let anyone pay a premium for Medicare insurance and have employers cover the same proportion as they would for a private plan. Make that contribution a tax write off for small businesses. Initial rollout could take place relatively quickly and have the government "guarantee" current coverage under the ACA to lower the high deductibles in some fashion until it does, the data is there (if not the exact costs.)

  148. Excellent choice of framing device in mythological character- so much of the Greek canon is not of its age but for all time. I will highlight your subtext that Government has an important role to play in our lives and ask that the drown in the bathtub lemmings realize finally that a Government for the people does not mean surrendering liberty, but putting trust in an institution that looks out for the greater good. This is the moment of clarity- we need focus, leadership, regulation, and fair application of resources. This idea that the free market knows best is balderdash - Science research is to everyone's benefit, maybe we will start trusting the scientists like the apolitical Dr. Fauci and then realize that this virus is small potatoes compared to the gathering storm of climate change for my grandaughters.

  149. The Spanish flu epidemic receded with warmer weather in the summer of 1918, but it came back with a vengeance in October of 1918, which was the deadliest month of all.

  150. @RK Forget about the Spanish flu epidemic. This is Covid-19 and Panamá declared a national state of emergency yesterday. At sea level, Panamá does not have seasons.

  151. @James Ricciardi - Yes I was referring to the US. The Spanish Flu infected 1/3 of the world's population and many of the places where it occurred do not have seasons or have seasons opposite to the US (the southern hemisphere).

  152. @James Ricciardi wait, do you mean “near the equator “?

  153. Bret Stephens reminds us that the President has a "monomaniacal belief that there's not a problem in America that can't be fixed by building a wall". But without an understanding of scientific truth and pragmatism born of objectivity, the Trump administration and its followers will be perpetually looking for scapegoats. Let us remember the Chinese proverb oft quoted by Climate experts-- "When the winds of change blow, some build walls, others build windmills." Sober and wise words not likely to be followed by this President or understood by his partisans.

  154. @Doug Nunn Sounds like we need walls and windmills, or is this unwise, unscientific, unpragmatic, unobjective scapegoat thinking! Down with Trump and his followers!

  155. Over the last few decades, our government has been putting America last by selling us out and making it so we are now completely reliant on the Chinese for medicine and medical goods. We literally can't even produce penicillin inside the US anymore. Recently, the Chinese government reminded us of this betrayal by insinuating they may cut off our access to medicine if we give them a hard time regarding Huawei. There's a reason why so many people don't care about Trump's dishonesty. They've lost all hope of having any faith in government at all. Why wouldn't they?

  156. @John Chenango No, profit-maximizing multinational corporations are primarily blame. Nobody (except hedge funds and their ilk) put a gun to their heads and said "move to China or else." Capitalism at its finest.

  157. What happened to the libertarian? Government should get out of the healthcare business. Government drowned in a bath tub. Government healthcare is not mentioned in the Constitution. Conservatives seem to adopt or drop whatever belief that seems convenient at the moment. Kites in the wind with no moral compass.

  158. @gratis Yes! Have we heard from Rand Paul? And I doubt we will. Government does what private citizens and corporations won't or can't. That is, think of the greater good. Panic prevents citizens from greater good, as is demonstrated by panic buying; and 'fiduciary responsibility' prevents corporations from contributing to greater good unless they have enlightened leadership. Recall that Trump never replaced Obama's pandemic position on the National Security Council. How does that look now? Willful ignorance has made this much worse.

  159. @gratis Just like those awful wind turbines that cause cancer. Scary.

  160. @gratis Just like the saying "There's no atheist in a fox-hole", there's also no "libertarian" when they need the government's help. The hypocrisy is truly breath taking!

  161. The GOP is delusional if it thinks it can pinch pennies by hobbling the CDC and other vital agencies that are entrusted with Americans' health. We have been warned for years that the Trump Administration has been pursuing a policy of neglect toward many important agencies of our government, and now we are seeing the effects of this neglect in our president's antipathy to the current crisis. But it should be obvious to all that today's GOP leaders have very little interest in any policy that does not bring them monetary gain and power over others.

  162. @Susan The Federal Govt. is $22 Trillion in debt - cuts have to be made - we don't have infinite resources. To blame Trump for setting the Federal budget (it is set through the Congress) and then the CDC's unwise use of its budget shows complete ignorance as to how our Govt. and its departments run. But it is lovely to always knee-jerk blame Trump for everything.

  163. Trump is like the little boy that cried wolf one time too many. Three years of lies can't be wiped off the slate with one crisis. Trump the great deal maker was caught flat footed with this one. Trump can't blame Obama for this one even though he tried. I think the MAGA crowd is going to turn on their Great Leader when there is nothing on ESPN to watch. One thing the MAGA crowd can agree on is that it loves to watch people of color running around chasing a ball. NASCAR without a crowd is going to be haunting. Trump's party doesn't believe in science at a time when only science can save it. Trump would have made a great used car salesman but I doubt if any future generation is going to put his likeness on a mountain.

  164. It was pretty striking to learn, within days, that Donald Trump, Mike Pence, William Barr and Ivanka Trump may have all been exposed to the coronavirus from two afflicted individuals. Trump, however he reacted in private, is publicly being flippant, which is incredibly irresponsible. It would be poetic justice for Trump to see, up close and personal, the failures of his response to the pandemic. He must have wished for someone worthy to be in charge.

  165. Is it just me or is this written with a strange sense that the worse is behind us and that prez once again dodged a bullet? Reads almost like an epilogue. If Kristof and Stuart are anywhere close to being right in their terrific (in both senses of the word, I suppose) living graphic this morning, we are looking at from one million to six or nine million infections and three hundred thousand to one million deaths-- and this imagines that sufficient numbers of tests and supplies of personal protective equipment are rolled out... like tomorrow. Maybe I am secretly yearning for an apocalypse, but this country appears the least prepared and the most vulnerable of any country yet widely affected. We have never really believed in the notion of a common good-- much less robust public health services.

  166. It really should not have taken a global health crisis to lay bare Trump’s unworthiness of power. But if this pandemic is the failure which costs him reelection, then so be it. The world needs someone responsible to be at the helm when catastrophe strikes.

  167. We don't need to resort to Greek myth to give a name to what has happened to America because of Trump. It's quite simple: the wrath of God has fallen upon us because of Trump and his fellow Republicans' betrayal of nearly every Christian virtue. Get the word out.

  168. @Alexander Bain They're not christian values they are everybody's values. Please take religion out of this.

  169. @Alexander Bain The virus does not any way prove that God has turned wrathful. It proves, definitivley, that there is no God.

  170. Do you think that his actions today, which benefit lower and middle class Americans, have a redeeming quality?

  171. Which actions might those be? I’m very middle class and I didn’t see anything that particularly benefited me. You mean waiving the interest on student loans? Don’t make me laugh. Trump is beyond redemption.

  172. @NotKidding In a word:NO

  173. What actions? Congress is who is pushing these actions not the buffoon in the oval office

  174. Nemesis is in shutting the mind so completely from change that it takes a crisis to even budge it from its fixed position. The fact unrecognized is that what goes around comes around (you reap what you sow). Even then, the true believers like Trump himself cannot afford to consider that their own thinking has gotten them to the current impossible situation and not outside forces. When your world depends on not learning anything new, but trying to control the outcome of not really thinking, then the question becomes are you willing to die for your beliefs? Bret, you rightly cite the split mindedness of Vader and Voldemort. As Snape said to Harry, "if you let the dark lord in (your mind at all) he will have torture you and have you begging for death." Sirius had wrongly told Harry it didn't matter what Harry thought--it was what he chose to act on that determined what he was good or bad. As Jesus said it is about what you think, because thought comes before any action so you have to control your emotions and thoughts.

  175. This article tells me a lot about the writer and essentially nothing about the president. It is based on the belief that everything President Trump does is out of corrupt motive and will inevitably be counterproductive. It is pablum for the believers.

  176. So can you counter with any facts or logic? And how often do you make the opposite complaint to Trump’s fans and the media that supports him?

  177. @james lowe Actually, it's pretty much evidence-based.

  178. I think the market rally was all down to Pelosi and word that she was getting some real action out of this hollow excuse for an administration. Real action that will target the real economy. Reality based, decent, compassionate, competent government. Pelosi is riding with Nemesis.

  179. @teach Is it Nemesis thy name is Pelosi? Or Pelosi, thy name is Nemesis?

  180. First, Trump is class A buffon....but having said that, the press conference today appeared to be professional--with Trump saying little, and the professionals saying a lot....(As always, Pence was a public embarrassment). But, second, implementation---always implementation, which we all know, as been a Trump weakness. Whether all those promises come true tomorrow (I could not reach that Google site) --well the markets will tell us that in a few days---my gut feeling...with a deep state lite...I would bet we just watch a version of The Apprentice.

  181. "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.' Trump's overall job average approval rating per fivethirtyeight is currently at 42.3%. While the poll average may not yet fully incorporate reaction to his disastrous Oval Office address, for most of Trump's faithful ... ... Trump could stand up outside the White House and repeatedly lie about a pandemic putting American lives at risk and still wouldn't lose the approval of his base. It seems a cult of personality and people's unwillingness to admit they've been conned are as immune to viruses as they are to good judgment.

  182. You can rail against Trump all you want, Mr. Stephens, but ultimately your political party enabled his candidacy and presidency. And despite your feeble claims of being a never-Trumper, the GOP has had a party if dismantling the federal government -- including its public health functions -- since Reagan. Every single Republican party member, from our useless president to, yes, even you, Bret, owe the American people an apology.

  183. @Joel , Extremely well stated. Thank you for speaking out.

  184. @Joel It may be the GOP that enabled Trump, but it is always the Democrats fault.

  185. Why do you "purer than thou" people always attack Brett Stephens? He's speaking the truth. Embrace him for it. Are you really so perfectly virtuous that you can't cut the guy some slack?

  186. Agree on all your points but what exactly makes you think that Trump’s supporters now see his weaknesses? All indications so far through countless disastrous situations and policies in this presidency have shown maniacal support of this man from his base. Have his followers truly begun to see what we all have known for years?

  187. @Ron I think he's saying yes. This is different.

  188. I apologize for the crassness of this comment in advance, but you have to wonder - if they start getting sick and can’t get treatment, or even start dying, will that finally make them see this mess for what it is? That’s probably the elephant in the room when it comes to this discussion.

  189. To date, Trump has been able to bluster and bully his way through his political crises. Pathogens, however don’t respond to propaganda, and care nothing for his political fortunes.

  190. “It should not have had to take a deadly virus to expose this presidency for what it is. But it’s fitting that it has.” It should have but I’m sure it hasn’t. Trump will not change - when this virus runs its deadly course, he will take full credit for its end. He will forget he wasted valuable time not listening to experts, insisting it was a Democrat hoax, lying about the availability of testing kits and that a vaccine was soon at hand. The question is - will the Republicans and right-wing media echo chamber back him up? I fear it will.

  191. Brilliantly written. Of course, it helps that you've got a lot of truth to work with!

  192. Several news organizations have reported that guests that came in contact with Trump at Mar a Lago have tested positive for coronavirus. Ponder the possibilities of just desserts delivered by Nemesis.

  193. @elfarol1 - trump/pence will deny they were there.

  194. @elfarol1 Yes, remember Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death?

  195. Would “just desserts” (for trump) be chocolate cake with only one scoop of ice cream?

  196. Trump will pay no price for his hubris. In fact, he sees it as a ticket to remain in office indefinitely. He whipsawed from declaring the virus a hoax just last week to declaring a national emergency today, and his adoring fans still love him. We now have a would-be dictator in the White House, who will abuse his office and the public trust to consolidate his power. This "president" has committed all manner of fraudulent acts in the name of "national security". He will abuse his power for his own selfish purpose - which is, of course, to stay in office at all costs. He faces criminal prosecution in state courts should he lose the election. So Trump will stretch the limits of power with this "national emergency", all ostensibly for the "public welfare". A president's Constitutional power to declare martial law exists, but it is far from well-defined. And this Supreme Court has bent over backwards to provide the expansive definitions of "executive powers" Trump seeks. The Roberts court granted him "emergency powers" for his Wall and the Muslim ban on a claim wholly devoid of any facts. Trump simply said he needed to take those actions and this Court took him at his word. Expect a replay from this Court when he cancels the November election. They will rubber stamp any action he takes. And if the last three years have shown us anything, it's that a man like Trump should never have been given "emergency powers".

  197. @Charles Dodgson What happens in the US if one of the candidates dies before the election but after his name is place on the ballot? In a parliamentary system with PR, this would not be a problem. But in the US, the candidate (presumably the living one) with the most electoral votes would win. With candidates this old, the parties should have procedures in place for deciding who takes the mantle at different stages in the process. It might be necessary to cancel the conventions this year.

  198. A bit jackalspeak with the ‘deserve’ intention, yet human nonetheless because many are angry and seeking a fateful, Donald-asked-for-it in so many ways punishment. But Donald’s national emergency appears more a recognition that only this week he realized that he is (somehow) US president, and that Donald Trump playing real president was an emergency-in-chief since the start.

  199. "Whether we or our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and sterner sense of justice than we do." --Wendell Berry

  200. @Joshua Brown Thanks!

  201. It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good; the silver linings of this situation may be many, though the price for them is likely to be high. This pandemic may not only be Trump's Katrina and wind up exposing just how incompetent and cruel he and his are and get him thrown out of office, it may also wind up confirming the need for universal sick leave and for a much more universal health care system. And it may even give impetus to the good side of internet connectivity and social media--in our physical isolation we don't have to be mentally and emotionally isolated these days. It's just sad that it takes something like this to set things in motion. And I do fear that once the pandemic subsides too many greedheads will just go back to same old same old. It's our responsibility to see that they don't.

  202. A majority of Americans already know that Trump is a clear and present danger to our citizens and our democracy. Let's move on. We need to figure out how to punish the republican party so they never hold power again. Ever.

  203. @Markymark Hope you are right. The voters in Kansas, the Dakota's, Nebraska, my home state of Wisconsin, et al are going to have to figure it out, or Trump will be back. It shouldn't be this tough, but it is.

  204. @Markymark please vote!

  205. @Markymark Vote Blue, no matter who (or for which office, even down to your local dogcatcher). It's the only way to extirpate the evil that is the Republican Party from our country.

  206. An excellent piece and sadly for our country, stunningly and sadly accurate. It's truly disturbing and mystifying to see that more than 40% of our fellow citizens (and more than 80% of Republicans) apparently believe of the job our president is doing presently. I cannot imagine that my fellow citizens that approve are watching the same man I've seen over the last week. Like many Americans, I watched the president's speech to the nation on Tuesday as well as his announcement of a national emergency today. I have admittedly never been fan of the president or his politics. However, I was hoping that in this time of national crisis he might rise to the moment. Unfortunately, I found the president's rhetoric strangely flat, seemingly emotionless and terribly uninspiring. Every president in our history has his crisis. At this point, the coronavirus is Mr. Trump's and our nation's. Narcissism, impulsiveness, ignorance and need to surround themselves with sycophants are not the traits we'd hope for in any leader during a national crisis. On the other hand, great leaders have the ability to inspire and unite in times of crisis. Great leaders also have the self confidence to surround themselves with intelligent and highly experienced subordinates that are unafraid to speak truth to power-because that is what great leaders want and expect. I hope at some point Trump's followers begin to see his terrible hubris and realize that he is our nemesis.

  207. @Eric After three years of his "malarkey", what made you think he would change? I believe he has more than aptly proved he cannot handle an emergency let alone a crisis. All his superficial posturing will not hide the fact he is in over his head. The type of performance customarily successful at his rallies just won't do. We are not here to be entertained (badly) or lied to. Please stop, Mr. Trump, and refrain from speaking unless you really have something to say. Stop pretending to be the leader you are not.

  208. @Eric I love your post! I feel like I am living an alien existence. ..

  209. How much of what happened today, the national emergency declaration, is about the medicinal health of the people or the political health of the incumbent? The only thing that seems to have caught the attention of 15-and-then-none Trump, is the implosion of the stock market. He tried to gaslight us right up until the markets said hello President-Elect Biden.

  210. Bret, are you turning into a Democrat? It's not just Trump, it's the entire GOP. You left out 2 "solutions" to problems that the GOP embraced long before Trump came on the scene and try to apply in EVERY situation: Lower taxes on businesses and for billionaires and...roll back any and ever regulation no matter how sensible it is. Yes, many elected Republicans have figured out that a crown-shaped hunk of RNA clusters don't follow tweets, don't subscribe to Milton Friedman's monetary theory, don't pay attention to Fox propaganda, don't watch Hannity, and infect rich and power, powerful and weak, and every race and religion. Yet still, key leader like McCarthy and Alexander, complain that free tests and paid leave cost too much while they borrowed a trillion dollars for tax cuts to...you know. Nemesis doesn't just see Trump, Bret, she sees ALL the Republicans, not just Trump.

  211. @Dadof2 Which is why it's necessary to vote out EVERY Republican out of office in the November elections, regardless.

  212. @Dadof2 Why the slam against Milton Friedman's monetary policy? I think the vast majority of economists agree with his thinking about how the Fed made the Great Depression much worse by not being loose enough with money. He'd long advocated replacing the Fed with a computer program, so I think he would be dismayed at Powell's efforts to goose the economy by cutting rates.

  213. @Netwit If Friedman's theories were correct inflation would be 10,000% right now. But I do agree with him about the Great Depression.

  214. Even after three years, I'm still flabbergasted by the president's vanity and need to continually inflate himself in complete disregard of fact. His favorite terms of speech seem to be "beautiful", "massive", "incredible", etc. usually preceded by a modifier like "most" or "more than anyone can imagine" or "more than you can believe", and also usually describing something that any reasonably intelligent person would not describe with those adjectives, e.g. a virus testing kit (listening to one of his speeches would form the basis of a good drinking game). If there was ever a public figure that could be diagnosed with a narcissistic or other personality disorder on the basis of his public behavior, our president is him.

  215. @a lee He is a textbook narcissist, which means that virtually his every move, his every word, is driven by an intense and deep-seated insecurity, a fear that he is not good enough. All his blustering and bragging and bloviating is an unconscious self-soothing technique, a defense of his ego, which is as fragile as fine crystal.

  216. @a lee Clearly afflicted with both Narcissism and the Dunning Kruger Effect. A deadly combination.

  217. @a lee i love this.

  218. Thank you for a well written opinion piece, Mr. Stephens. I have been reading Dr. Danielle Allen's "Our Declaration", a book about the Declaration of Independence. Reading this book has brought new meaning and understanding of this founding document and its relevance to me in today's fraught world. Our fore-bearers fought and won the Revolution against King George for the right to form a government that would secure our unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness--rights to which we have all been equally endowed. The Declaration of Independence laid out the case that King George was not securing our unalienable rights and not providing the thirteen colonies with security. Consequently, the Founding Fathers said, we had the right to establish a government that would do so. Perhaps we should all read and reflect on the Declaration of Independence as we socially distance ourselves over the next few weeks. And then live up the principles of the founders of United States as we vote, practice civic engagement, and seek to institute a government that will deliver on the promise of the Declaration of Independence.

  219. ..."the president has a belated opportunity to demonstrate seriousness he has lacked so far." No use lamenting that "belated opportunity" because his seriousness isn't something he's lacked "so far." It's something he lacks altogether. How could he possibly project gravitas when he simply has none?

  220. The con man’s stock in trade is the wishful thinking of the marks. Trump knows this...it may be all he knows. A recent poll reported that 76% of Republicans trust his leadership in this crisis, despite all his lies and ignorant statements. He sells them wishes, theirs (the virus will vanish miraculously; testing is available; no country has responded to this so well) and his own (I’m responsible for all good news, Obama and media for all bad news; I’m a genius that should’ve gone into medicine because I really get it!). Reality, what Bret describes people seeing in recent days, caused a near-crash in the Dow yesterday; Today, Trump “promises” widely available testing for the virus, and the 10% drop is recovered. Nothing sells like a wish. But wishes aside, the real economic impact of the virus will be slow and steady. Layoffs. School closures (and parents unable to go to work as a consequence). Certain sectors, like tourism, devastated. That will be real economics. Stay tuned for a parade of wishes.

  221. Bret, Trump has certainly shown us that he is incapable of finding any Presidential gravitas. He is painfully consistent, bragging, making the issues about his “wonderful”, “perfect” decisions. Now we are really in need of character and some wisdom, I continue to wonder just how long his supporters, and the republican leadership will tolerate his simplistic and self centered leadership. I have never been as embarrassed about my country’s leadership as I am now.

  222. @Jonathan Lewis The (former) Republicans (now Trumpettes) will tolerate this until they are all thrown out at the polls. Vote Blue no matter who! The only way to reach these people is to get rid of them. They have no shame, no conscience, no principles (other than obtaining and keeping power) and they surely care for no other Americans other than themselves.

  223. This is a brilliant piece. Thank you

  224. Early in Trump’s term in office when we were all incredulous that he told so many lies and embellished events, many commentators said, What will happen when there is an emergency and Trump”s credibility is important?For awhile it seemed that the day of reckoning would never come.Now it has and we see the dire consequences! No one is amused by the Trump tweets-they are toxic.We need healing not toxicity.

  225. I watched Trump's news conference this afternoon as everybody stood shoulder to shoulder while Trump shook three people's hands. Need I say more?

  226. @Sher Schwartz Just a side comment: I was fascinated by Dr. Anthony Fauci's posture and demeanor during the entire farce. He stood there rigidly with his arms crossed tightly over his chest (posture of resistance), staring straight ahead with a grim look on his face. Love to know what was going on in his head at that moment.

  227. "I Don't Take Responsibility At All..." "When you say 'me,' I didn't do it. We have a group of people [in the administration]. But I could perhaps ask Tony about that, because I don't know anything about it." All in response to a question about disbanding the Office of Pandemics and the slow roll out for testing. There is nothing this man can do for redemption: Nothing.

  228. @Candlewick I agree. He refuses to accept the responsibility. We then get to blame him. He either accepts the responsibility or the blame - no other options are available.

  229. @Candlewick "I Don't Take Responsibility At All..." seems an apt description of Trump, McConnell and others in the Trump Administration and GOP side of Congress. No responsiblity for the negative consequences of declining health care coverage and rising costs resulting from broad GOP efforts to undermine and defund the ACA. No responsibility for trillion $ budget deficits resulting from a huge tax giveaway to the wealthy that failed to achieve the stated goal of accelerating business investment. No responsibility for disastrous failures by the CDC and FEMA in emergencies from Puerto Rico to COVID-19. And certainly no responsibility for the future climate change our grand kids will experience as a result of the corrupt relationship between the GOP and fossil fuel industry.

  230. He has the responsibility to fix it, though if he’d like he can deny he was responsible for creating the virus as I feel confident he doesn’t eat raw bats. He’s not a cannibal. He can contribute the most by taking a 6 month sabbatical touring countries to promote Trump towers and golf courses. The latter are important for it’s a great way to avoid large crowds. A foursome is a small group.

  231. Folly? I though GOP Congressmen were elected to do nothing. I mean, I thought it was part of the GOP platform. "You can spend your money better than the government." Unlike the Dem Congressmen, the GOP is delivering on their platform and promises in an historically unprecedented manner, the least passed legislation ever. Trump is blowing up the government, just as the Conservatives voted for. I read the article. I know what conservatives have promised for decades.I do not understand what problem Mr. Stephen sees. Trump is a movement conservatives dream president.

  232. Between the 30 minute or so late start to this afternoon's Rose Garden announcement and Trump's flat affect, I wouldn't be surprised if we find out in the coming days that he was more or less out there against his will. The whole thing read like a hostage reading the terms of his release in front of his captors. And then there were the repeated misstatements and outright lies the President seemed to compulsively blurt out between scripted lines...

  233. @Jimal, one of the most alarming things to me in both of Mr. Trump's speeches this week was the lack of humanity, the almost lack of empathy, care, or even the slightest bit of compassion. It's cold -- flat and cold. Perhaps he simply isn't capable of real feeling. In that, I feel desperately sorry for him, and also in that, I am terrified for the rest of us.

  234. @Jimal. “A hostage reading the terms of his release.” You nailed it. You could even see his gigantic ego continually trying to wrestle him away from his script. I wonder if somebody behind him was poking him in the back to get him back on track when he was getting particularly swept up in his own aggrandizement.

  235. @Jimal My thoughts exactly! It was painful to listen to Trump read and I keep wondering who is it that is able to drive him out there and force him to take these actions? Was it my imagination or did Trump make quite a show of adjusting the microphone downward before Anthony Fauci came up to speak, seemingly mocking his height? It must drive Trump crazy to see how people listen, believe, and respond to Fauci, a credible, admirable hero for our nation.

  236. Much as I would like to make Trump the problem in this crisis (and to be sure, he is a major obstacle to intelligent, useful action), the fact is that he attained the Oval Office and survived a well-founded impeachment because of those "[m]illions of Trump’s supporters" who "aren’t blind to the president’s clownishness and ignorance" but who have "been relatively indifferent to both". "They care now", Mr. Stephens asserts. But do they? It would be welcome news if they do. However, the tribalism he has fostered has set down deep roots in his base, and I will remain skeptical of Mr. Stephens' optimism on this score unless I see them remember this fiasco and reject him in November.

  237. @I am a skeptic as well. Most of his base will not blame him, will accept and believe that he is not responsible for the weeks of delay and will hold him up as their demagogue until the very end even as they bury their own and suffer hardships.

  238. @G It's unfortunate, but anyone thinking "they care now" is delusional. Literally. No matter the facts and results (or lack thereof), anything he says or does is perfect. Head over to Mr. Trumps Facebook page. There is no bottom he can reach. Lying, name calling, incompetence, deflecting blame, bigotry, dictator wannabe (watch out - he would love to follow Putin's lead and become President for life). Thinking otherwise is a waste of time.

  239. @G On the button, Mr. G.

  240. Read Svetlana Alexievitch's Voices from Chernobyl. There will be no doubt of the validity of the comparison made in the March 9 Washington Post opinion piece. It reveals how little difference there is in the Soviet system and what has developed in Washington. It is very scary.

  241. The dice presidents throw to determine their place in history keep tumbling long after their own terms and lives. Most, not all, of the names on the Viet Nam wall can be blamed at least partially on LBJ. But almost 50 years after his own death, his legacy will help atone to the country, as well as the generation of most of those names. Without Medicare, the U.S. would be much, much worse off in the fight against this virus, to which seniors are the most vulnerable. Even more important than making it easier or possible for seniors to get care, the access it gives them makes it less likely they will spread the virus. Medicare also will have access to large-scale data about how many seniors have been tested, diagnosed, etc., as part of the normal provider reimbursement process. So far, LBJ has done more to fight this specific crisis than the current incumbent, making the cycle of our presidents since 1963 even more like the ancient Greek tragedies that cited Nemesis..

  242. @grennan As a Vietnam veteran I will never forget nor forgive Lyndon Johnson for the names on that wall. He continued the fight long after it was practical to stay involved - all we were accomplishing was getting more of our young men killed. And he did it to protect his legacy. I am glad that we have Medicare, and appreciate Johnson's part in that but it would have eventually happened anyway.

  243. @TrumpsGOPsucks I agree with your initial premise. But let us not forget that 1. LBJ LIED to get us into Vietnam (the Gulf of Tonkin incident was the lie) and 2. Nixon LIED about getting us out. He let the war drag on four more years so he could get re-elected. Then we sued for "Peace, with honor" (Jan 23 1973)

  244. @TrumpsGOPsucks During the Gulf War, a health policy journal tried to estimate how much Viet Nam- caused, -related, or -affected health problems continued to cause directly and indirectly. Not just the vets themselves, but their former spouses, current spouses, children and others whose connection may not be obvious, amounted to a much, much larger population than those likely to be affected by the Gulf War. If LBJ deserves much of the blame for the names on the Wall, as well as those ongoing problems -- and he does-- he should also get much of the credit for what Medicare represents during this crisis. Of course it doesn't vindicate him, but during this pandemic it may represent a certain amount of practical penitence.

  245. It should now be crystal clear that the so-called "deep state" bureaucrats aren't the actual danger to the country. They're the only ones competent enough to possibly pull together a barely adequate and delayed response to the pandemic danger we're in. The real danger is the "shallow state" -- the shallow state of Trump's vanity and ego that can't understand how to lead us through a crisis. The shallow state of the GOP mentality that tries to ignore reality and concocts "facts" that perpetuate the power and riches of their supporters. Beware the shallow state.

  246. @carllowe It would take a massive death rate in the red states to persuade the willfully ignorant to abandon Trump. He has simply shown how far America has fallen from the days when she was truly exceptional.

  247. @carllowe I like that--the shallow state. Hope that one gets out into the world! It's exactly right.

  248. @carllowe And let's not forget the "shallow state" of the poorly educated (Trump's words) who are ignorant or uneducated to the point of being unable to think critically and evaluate issues and people on a rational basis. Instead, they follow the ravings of a racist megalomaniacal narcissist because he validates their bigotry, prejudices, and perceived grievances.

  249. Trump’s approval rating is holding steady which undermines everything said here. Believing what you want to believe doesn’t make it true.

  250. @michjas Trump is keeping his base (someplace in the low 40% of the electorate) but he is going to lose a lot of moderate swing voters in the next election. What both Trump and Clinton voters either don't realize or want to accept is the fact that Trump didn't so much win the election, Hillary lost it. Joe Biden is not Hillary.

  251. @michjas Says a lot about his scientifically illiterate base. As long as they have their guns, pickups, no health care, poor general health and poor wages life is just dandy. To paraphrase what a wise man once said "They can't handle the truth".

  252. @michjas And the same can be said for trump and his base. "Believing what you want to believe doesn’t make it true." Science is fact, despite what you and he say

  253. Maybe it's a crisis that brings out the best in some people, certainly not Trump, but this is the best column I've read by Bret Stephens. Thank you for this.

  254. @Mark McIntyre - This is the first column I've read by Bret Stephens.

  255. Mr. Stephens, Thank you. Finally, a column of yours that is bold, truthful, and pulls no punches. Bravo, sir. Now, keep it up. You owe it to your readers, and dare I say it, the nation.

  256. I'm a professor. In academia, late is late. Coming up with a correct set of answers after the stated deadline is unacceptable. Trump's advisors evidently persuaded him that his denial approach to the corona virus crisis was political suicide. This week we have seen him stick to the script in two addresses to the nation. This time the scripts contained correct statements. Tragically, those speeches and ensuing actions were and are too late. As a professor I would have to fail the student, but of course despite what Donald Trump may think, this is not about making the grade so that he can win in November. It is about managing the potentially worst human tragedy that the post World War II world has seen. As the (non) leader of the free world he has failed miserably. We must now pray that from this point forward he does not get in the way more than he already has.

  257. @Joe , A first-grader knows late is late. It doesn't take a college professor to learn that. But a first-grader has no idea that a class assignment is pretty different from gauging and responding to a challenge. Ever heard about "muddling through" being a popular approach among a few others in colleges of public administration? Society is no machine.

  258. @JY JY, I'm not sure I understand your point, but "muddling through" applies to a situation where tools and resources are insufficient to fairly tackle a challenge. Excepting lack of IQ, Trump had tremendous tools to work with and was fully armed with the power and might of the United States when first presented with the challenge. He did not need to "muddle through" He only recently has even admitted that the corona virus is a serious public health situation. His long inaction has literally caused tragedy. Have a look at Kristof and Thompson's interactive charts in the NYT that illustrate the importance of timeliness. The numbers are staggering.

  259. A press conference full of lies, blame, deflection, and denial is not "muddling through" a world-wide pandemic. It's classic Trump, and it's horrifying.

  260. Today Trump said this about getting tested for coronavirus: “I think I will do it anyway. Fairly soon. We’re working out a schedule.” (In other words, right after he releases his tax returns.)

  261. @Hugh Briss here's the problem with the scenario Trump can get tested I'm on the rest of us cannot because of his short-sightedness

  262. @Hugh Briss When hell freezes.

  263. I fail to understand why the investors drove up the market today seemingly believing that a person who is notorious for telling lies told even more lies during his speech and has not agreed to the relief package being developed in Congress. There is no certainty that testing will be available at the point of care for an unknown number of weeks. Without that testing the epidemic is going to spread for today and for the foreseeable future many ill persons cannot be tested and contacts of persons who are test positive cannot be screened and quarantined if positive. That is the only was the epidemic can be controlled. The Google thing is smoke and mirrors. The problem is not the market the problem is the virus is spreading and the means to control it are not yet available and people are in a panic mode and consumer spending except for toilet paper and food stables is decreasing. Buying oil to fill the national reserve only helps the oil companies and hurts consumers.

  264. @Edward B. Blau It dropped more than a little because of their own knowledge that Trump is kaka, but his promising on live TV that more reasonable measures would be forthcoming made them think twice. Hopefully, repos will learn that such measures are not just necessary, but vital if this country is to survive. If you look at history, even Bismarck realized that social insurance was necessary for militaristic Prussia to keep ruling Germaniy.

  265. I thought the same thing, particularly given his track record. There is nothing to have any confidence in at this point. Testing in adequate amounts still is not there, and we are only at the very beginnings of this outbreak in the US. Cases are going to skyrocket in next couple of weeks, following the same pattern as everywhere else. We haven’t seen anything yet.

  266. @Edward B. Blau Once a few shorts cover the rest have to start covering fast too. They'll be bad headlines over the weekend, nearly guaranteed, and today's gains will likely start to bleed away again.

  267. Many of us have seen this presidency for what it is since day one. The only surprise in Trump's remarks is that he didn't say that only registered Republicans will be eligible for testing and treatment. Must have been an oversight.

  268. @Ed-When Trump talked about drive-by testing, I'm wondering what corporations Trump will favor to provide this essential public service at exorbitant private rates (aka government taxpayer bailout).

  269. Presidential leadership is needed now. We need a clear message for what the Government is doing to protect us during this crisis. We need a clear message from the Government for what we can do to help, as well as why we should do it. That takes credibility, a belief that the information given is reliably true and in our own best interest. But from the start, Trump has been unconcerned by the truth. His strategy of feeding his base the reductionist views they want to hear has carried him so far, as he has gotten most of what he has wanted. He has been proudly skeptical of science when it suits him, so why should anyone believe what he says now? He has been dismissive of the needs and wants of those outside his own interests. Who outside his base believes he has their interests in mind now? T Roosevelt said they won't care what you know until they know that you care. Who thinks Trump cares for them? You reap what you sow. Trump's dismissive neglect to serve anyone outside of his own interests has rendered him without the credibility to either provide peace of mind or to inspire shared sacrifice to effectively curtail spread.

  270. @chris I always thought the message was clear. The GOP and Trump are making profits, and you are on your own.

  271. trump's base and enablers at Fox News (and others) are still all-in with trump. I wouldn't be surprised to see trump get 60 million votes in November.

  272. Kennedy (FoxNews Personality) was highly critical Thursday night of the administration’s handling of the pandemic, including pointing out that the CDC and FDA had affirmatively restricted testing, and why that was bad, and that Trump had misrepresented testing availability in his “speech ” on Wednesday. So there some hope the truth will be understood..

  273. @Bill Brasky Trump got into office with a minority of the vote. He has to date not cracked 50% approval rating.

  274. @Bill Brasky I wouldn't be surprised to see Biden get 70 million votes in November. Disgust with trump will be a powerful motivation.

  275. I don’t get this fixation and insistence that warmer weather will kill the virus off. If at all true, it should not be any concern at all in the tropics (it is).

  276. When the virus is eventually brought under control (probably by a vaccine), there will be only two possible responses: 1) Think of how many of these deaths could have been prevented if only Trump had started doing the right things sooner. - or - 2) Think of how many deaths Trump prevented by doing what he did. There will be a certain amount of truth to both of them. But which one will be closer to the actual truth? People who still believe that facts do matter (especially when supported by statistical data) will understand #1. On the other hand, Trump's base of low-info voters, sycophants, and enablers will believe #2. The sad part is that 40% of our country will believe in #2, no matter what the facts show. The only saving grace will be if enough people who understand the facts underlying #1 have already changed their behaviors and have started protecting themselves, and if enough people who believe in #2 are complacent enough to not take steps to protect themselves and their families. If this happens, it may well be a lowly virus that finally gives our country the seismic jolt that we need to restore the primacy of truth, the rule of law, and the civility/decncy that has been systematically destroyed in our country by one of our political parties over the past 20 years.

  277. @Paul-A Maybe the Republicans will push for a Benghazi-type of investigation. I don’t think so.

  278. @Paul-A There won't be a vaccine for another year and a half. And it will only work for for the COVID-21 outbreak.

  279. @Paul-A My calculation is also 20 years - beginning with Newt Gingrich - and a long list of enablers since he started the ball rolling. Hurry up November. VOTE!!

  280. Few of Trump's followers own stocks and the death toll is low. But, it's early. As Trump voters lose their jobs and then what ever savings they have and then their friends pass, they'll blame the Democrats. They will never admit they've been conned.

  281. I’ve always appreciated the saying that it’s much easier to con someone than to convince them they’ve been conned.

  282. Speaking of nemesis: I urge everyone to read Philip Roth’s brilliant short novel of the same name, which captures the sheer terror of getting polio before vaccines were introduced. I don’t think the latest virus is as serious or pervasive as polio, but we still need to take it seriously. I think Trump has finally awakened to the threat. Maybe.

  283. @Mark Siegel - "I think Trump has finally awakened to the threat." Nahh, just the threat of reality sinking into the consciousness of more Americans and now he has to admit to and actually take on the challenge of the danger. Hoping everyone will forget, before election day comes, about his hunch all will miraculously disappear without him taking the proper steps. Me, i wish something had been mentioned about the thermal temperature imaging units such as singapore has to measure temperatures of people as they pass by the units installed at the entrances of a lot of singapore's buildings. Body temperature measurements of all who enter the building as they have to pass by the units. Mass testing for at least one of the symptoms in operation. Looks so simple, effective, and easy to accomplish. Should be benchmarking what singapore's doing since they've done well in preventing the spread there. And they started quick, as soon as the danger was recognized. No hunches. I couldn't find a stock play for any producers of that equipment though i tried.

  284. Most of the Trump supporters I know think it's all a conspiracy against the President. Not sure they will ever believe anything else. Pence seems to have a better handle on this situation than the President but would be a better communicator if he didn't to pump up Trump's ego when giving details. I think most folks hope for the best from Trump but I'm not sure he has the capabilities.

  285. @redfish1 Capabilities - none - a proven fact. None in the past, none now, no chance of any developing. A Supreme Narcissist - afflicted with the Dunning Kruger Effect. Vladimir won in 2016, America lost. VOTE!!

  286. Amid the chaos of the stock market plunging into bear territory and insufficient testing becoming daily more evident, while Trump denies responsibility for eliminating the pandemic planning office of the National Security Agency, how many Republican senators are wishing they could now have an impeachment vote do-over?

  287. Wall Street is not fooled. Follow the money. They don’t be supporting him In November.

  288. @James, Toronto, CANADA If it wasn't so serious, Trump's song and dance denying he knew anything about the cut to the emergency bureau was hilarious. And for the finale he tried to throw Fauchi under the bus by turning and asking him if he knew anything about it. He's so compulsive about not taking any blame and responsibility and trying to frame someone else for it. Does he actually believe we would buy that story when we've seen him have eyes in the back of his head when it enriches him.

  289. None. Sad but true. Cost of doing business.

  290. Every time there is a Trump scandal, my husband texts his Trump loving friends. These men are urban, decent, educated, high income family men. He texted two of them last week asking what they thought of their president's lying in the time of pandemic. The first texted back: "Trump lies? They all lie." The second texted back: "Trump is a better man than Mr. Free Stuff and Mr. I can't remember." Today on our evening local news, local pastors (Evangelical) were asked if they were canceling services. No. They were defiant. Church is going to continue. The old rural farmers here have already been beaten down by tariffs and weather and they haven't broke with him yet. I'd be shocked if this is the thing that drives them back to reality.

  291. @Julie R Trumpists will never not support him. Even when he loses in November, they will not accept it. It's going to be scary.

  292. @Julie R - "Today on our evening local news, local pastors (Evangelical) were asked if they were canceling services. No. They were defiant. Church is going to continue." Well, if nature takes its course and culls those least able to evolve quiclky enough to meet her whims... You take care of yourself and give those people a wide berth. Keep the odds on your side. Good luck.

  293. @Julie R Same, and I just posted a comment saying the same thing. Bret has no idea what he is talking about. Perhaps the group that will actually get a well earned hit of reality are "elite" Republicans who thought they could manipulate forever, with their only goal being money flowing in their direction, and never see any consequences. Or in the case of Bret Stephens and David Brooks and their ilk, write seemingly rational columns about "conservatives" and the Republican party and turn a blind eye to their own painful reality.

  294. There is some strange trance that Trump holds over his believers. I'm really mystified. Watching that presser earlier today I couldn't get over how bizarre he was off script. He says some doctors tell him the virus will "wash" or "flow" through. What does that even mean? Like a gentle, tickling breeze? I would love if someone could conduct a blind hypothetical test, like the taste tests in the 80's between New Coke and Coke Classic, wherein two different speeches are given to a participant. The participant has no knowledge of who is who of course. The first is from candidate A (Trump), the second from candidate B (Biden or Sanders). Which one would a MAGA choose to hire for the job? The incoherent rambling speech (Trump), or the alternative, well formed one?

  295. @Stryder I spent some time in Far Right Twitterworld tonight and think they would choose the incoherence. They are under the impression that Trump was a "man of action" in this situation and that he is the one that got State Governments and corporations to act when, in fact, there was no federal guidance for anything that's been done to date. It was a scary place to be and I didn't stay long.

  296. @Stryder He creeped me out in '16, he (and his worshipers) are doing no better for my nerves today.

  297. I am VERY concerned with presidential power now that a national emergency has been declared. Congress has delegated at least 136 distinct statutory emergency powers to the President, each available upon the declaration of an emergency. Only 13 of these require a declaration from Congress; the remaining 123 are assumed by an executive declaration with no further Congressional input.

  298. @D If this goes on long enough, he could conceivably use the Emergency Declaration to cancel the 2020 presidential election.

  299. No kidding. This is a man who “jokes” about 10 years in office. His idol just gave himself lifetime of control Russia. I am expecting we will see Trump at his very worst.

  300. I found it interesting to hear Trump and the Republican Congressional Representatives being concerned that supporting their working Americans during this pandemic would be too expensive. They even accused them of being cheaters-- taking the paid time off guaranteed in the bill before Congress "when they really didn't need it".

  301. Add to this piece the clear fact that Trump has the Frosh/Soph team or maybe even the junior high team running key jobs in his administration. By this point, anyone who wants these jobs can have them. Robert Redfield “directing” the CDC is the THIRD director of the CDC since Trump was elected. Google him and he didn’t make the cut on other teams. Obama and Bush has TWO CDC directors spanning 15 years. The good old days never looked so good.

  302. @Tanya Agree! The genius never was a letterman.

  303. I suspect that trump already has the Corona virus - he's been exposed more than once in the past few days. Now he says he "might" get a test. Well if getting tested is not really very important to this "president" then no wonder ordinary people find it impossible to get the tests, despite trump's promises.

  304. If he was exposed he should quarantine regardless. A test can be misplace if someone is negative but is pre-shedding which is why generally you should have symptoms to be tested.

  305. @Dennis But he is not observing quarantine. In fact he was shaking hands with people in the Rose Garden today.

  306. @Dennis Don't they have facilities at the South Pole?

  307. This "presidency" has been exposed for what it is since its outset. Whether his supporters will ever remove their blinders is another question. Anyway, here's hoping that everyone stays well!

  308. That is really the key muscle versus fat in government. The hiring freeze at CDC caused muscle atrophy. Part of that atrophy is the usual management 101 phenomenon, that when employees are mistreated the best ones have job offers.

  309. Local and state governments and the public have begun to respond. But it looks like whatever success we have in stopping this virus will be despite Trump being president, not because of it.

  310. @Greg Thank God for our governor in Michigan. After two cases were discovered she declared a State Emergency. This enabled a number of measures that will help flatten the curve. All the public schools and state universities are closed or closing. There are plans to provide school meals being rapidly put into place. This is helping a lot of people to start taking it more seriously and washing hands, distancing, etc. There is definitely the perception that people are doing whatever they can despite Trump. It will be too bad when he takes credit for it all, but that's the least of everyone's worries right now.

  311. Trump was not looking in a mirror when he declared that we have a national emergency, which has been present since noon on January 20, 2017, so he missed the point entirely. We will fix that emergency on November 3, 2020, and have it end at noon on January 3, 2021. Coronavirus? It is a WORLD emergency, one that affects all of humanity. Some countries will handle it better than others. Under the present incompetent administration, Trump quietly put Kushner in charge. Kushner is getting input from a Facebook group of random ER doctors by way of his bother's father-in-law, who is an ER doc. If Kushner handles this as well as Middle East peace, we are in deep trouble.

  312. Tragically, the cost of this misadventure in government will be borne by the American people. Ironically, the highest mortality will be borne by Trump voting counties, which tend to have less trust in real experts and more trust in Trump’s lies. This country will look radically different a year from now.

  313. Thoughts & prayers to Trump-voting counties.