Donald Trump’s Non-Benign Boobery

Jim Loscalzo/CNP via ZUMA

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I got a lot of flak for saying this on Friday:

In just a couple of weeks, Trump has gone from being a boob, but a relatively benign one, to a boob who could end up killing a lot of people.

It’s easy to see how this could be misinterpreted, so it’s worth explaining what I meant. It’s simple: Donald Trump does a lot of stuff that pretty much any Republican would do. He tries to repeal Obamacare. He puts kids in cages on the border. He cuts back on food stamps. This is policy stuff.

But then there’s the boobery that comes out of Trump’s mouth. This is all on top of what any normal Republican would do, and for the most part it’s both stupid and embarrassing but not especially harmful in a concrete way. With a few exceptions, it might be hurtful to hear this stuff but it won’t kill you. This is what I meant by “relatively benign.”

Trump’s reponse to the coronavirus is entirely different. On the policy side, he has FUBARed massively. He ignored the outbreak at first. Then he shut down travel to China and figured that would be enough despite unanimous expert opinion to the contrary. He waited weeks to appoint a coronavirus czar, and when he did he chose the unqualified Mike Pence. One result of this has been the testing debacle. Another is the cruise ship debacle. There’s no telling what’s next.

But then, on top of all that, there’s the Trump boobery. Coronavirus is no big deal. Everyone who wants a test can get one. He’s not taking any special precautions himself. He’s going to keep holding his rallies. He doesn’t want to unload a cruise ship because it might hurt his “numbers.” This is, as usual, stupid and uninformed, but it’s also genuinely dangerous. Above and beyond the policy shambles coming out of his dysfunctional administration, Trump’s rhetoric is likely to cause his supporters to do dumb things that will increase the death rate from coronavirus. Normally his mouth is childish and hurtful, but now it’s worse. It might start getting people killed in large numbers.

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IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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