The Financial Express

Presidential prerogatives

| Updated: November 02, 2020 23:11:18

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Presidential prerogatives

US President Donald Trump's refrain that the US "is turning the corner" on the coronavirus pandemic just at a time when his country has started reporting a record number of daily cases should have shocked any sane person anywhere. But those familiar with his method in madness will be least surprised. When the Covid-19 cases galloped from Wednesday's 83,000 to 88,500 cases on Thursday, not only did the president made this unfounded claim, but also his son echoed his father's sentiment. Trump junior considered Thurday's 971 deaths 'nothing' serious and claimed his father's administration has got the better of the pandemic.

In a taped interview with respected journalist Bob Woodward on April 18, Trump's son-in-law and a senior adviser, Jared Kushner bragged that the president has taken over from 'doctors and scientists advising him on the unfolding coronavirus pandemic.' "Trump's now back in charge. It's not the doctors".  Now here is a president whose every move or action does have influences and impacts not only on the Americans but also on the peoples all across the planet.

The incumbent in the White House did not feel qualms, by his own admission, about downplaying coronavirus right from the beginning. After his tryst with the pathogen and hospitalisation, he certainly has earned the right to browbeat and joke with the virus. He repeats to denigrate scientists, 'Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid' as if it has no existence. But not common citizens in his country, according to the CNN, can think of the medication and specialised treatment he received. He can afford the luxury of dismissing it but to others it is no nonsense. The president refused to wear face mask and the majority of his supporters follow him. Only on a handful of occasions including the time when he got the disease and came out from the hospital on a car parade to assure his supporters waiting for him on the street of his wellness, did he wear a mask. But as soon as he came back to the White House from hospital, he took off the mask and ever since he has been delivering speeches at public rallies without mask.

The question of social distancing does not arise in his election-campaign rallies. When Trump, first lady Melania Trump and a number of White House staff including the top security official tested positive for the virus, most likely at the Rose Garden's Amy Coney Barrett event, at least there was hope that it would act as a deterrent to mass gatherings to be held in the future. When the country's most respected scientists and epidemiologists called such open events super spreader, Trump did not hesitate to call them 'idiot'. Now he and his followers are disregarding the health protocols so much that in any other country, such behaviours and acts would have been penalised. When contract tracing would have the attendants at such events quarantined, Vice-president Mike Pence and others were merrily doing their rounds of election campaign.

The CNN's fact-checking programme has been regularly exposing the unfounded claims made by the president and his circle. What is so disturbing and discomfiting is that the news anchors call spade a spade ---that is 'falsehood' or 'lies'. Just imagine a national news channel claims that the president is lying! People everywhere seem to be taken aback by Trump's daily digressions from facts and news channels and influential newspapers are identifying those lies point blank.

Well, how far democracy allows a country's number one person legal leniency and moral licence, particularly involving cases like non-payment of taxes and mishandling of the pandemic claiming the highest number of lives in any country? Political expediency takes over care for human lives. The Americans are paying heavily, which scientists and health experts have been repeatedly telling, for the mishandling of the pandemic. Quite a number of renowned experts like Jeffrey David Sachs of Columbia University, professor of economics and leader in sustainable development, did not mince words. They consider Trump's anti-science attitude and related antic 'astounding imbecility' and 'idiocy'. But the US president is in no mood to amend for the lapses. The message he puts across does a disservice to his countrymen and the peoples everywhere. They feel tempted to violate the basic health protocol and give a fig about democratic sensibilities, let alone ideals.


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