“Everybody was saying don’t wear a mask. All of a sudden, everybody’s got to wear a mask, and as you know, masks cause problems too. With that being said, I’m a believer in masks. I think masks are good.”
This was Donald Trump last month on Fox News, talking about the use of face masks during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Apparently, he doesn’t believe they’re a good idea – except when they are.
This past week, Trump called his surprisingly loyal public health advisor, Dr. Deborah Birx, “pathetic” on Twitter after she correctly warned Americans COVID-19 is spreading to rural areas. The very next day, Trump said, “she’s a person I have a lot of respect for.”
Then he added: “I think Nancy Pelosi has treated her very badly. Very, very badly. Very nasty.”
Pelosi recently admitted she doesn’t have a lot of faith in Birx right now, but she’s never been nasty enough to call Birx “pathetic” in front of the entire world.
In January, Trump tweeted how China was “working very hard to contain the Coronavirus.”
“The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency,” he gushed on Twitter. “It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!”
In March, Trump tweeted about “a very good conversation with President Xi of China” about the coronavirus. “China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus,” he wrote. “We are working closely together. Much respect!”
But the very next month, Trump claimed that if the World Health Organization hadn’t failed to “call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death.”
“Instead, the WHO willingly took China’s assurances to face value,” he said.
This is all part of a little verbal two-step I call Donald Trump Double-Talk, where the former TV game show host displays a whiplash ability to flip before you even know he’s flopped. I have to say, I’m really impressed by supporters who manage to keep track of what his opinion might be at any given moment.
It’s the kind of trait that creates the scenarios we witnessed just this past week. On the same day his campaign filed a lawsuit against the state of Nevada over a bill providing mail-in ballots to registered voters there, Trump announced he supports mail-in voting in Florida. When asked why, he responded: “Florida’s got a great Republican governor.”
Some may recall when Florida hosted one of the most infamous balloting debacles in American history 20 years ago, during the Bush-Gore election. But as recently as the November 2018 midterm elections, Trump himself was complaining at what he considered voting irregularities in Florida.
“This is an embarrassment to our Country and to Democracy!” he wailed during a long string of tweets on Nov. 9 of that year.
“What’s going on in Florida is a disgrace!” he ranted to reporters at the time.
But less than one major election cycle later, Trump would have you believe it’s Nevada, not Florida, with the tarnished history of counting ballots.
It occurred to me a while ago I cannot believe a single word out of this guy’s mouth. I mean, literally. If a rabid wolverine was gnawing on the back of my neck and Donald Trump happened to walk by and said, “Hey, you’ve got a rabid wolverine gnawing on the back of your neck,” I would have to check the mirror to see if he was lying. His words just don’t mean anything anymore.
One topic that has been especially torturous for Trump is the question of gun control. In a 2000 book, he wrote that he supports a ban on assault weapons. In 2013, he said he supported background checks. But after deciding to run for president a couple years later he backed off these stands.
After the Parkland, Florida, high school massacre in 2018, Trump promised to support a wide range of stronger measures. Remember that televised bipartisan meeting with leaders of Congress, when he bragged he – unlike they – didn’t have to worry about being under the thumb of the National Rifle Association?
“Take the firearms first, and then go to court,” he urged. “I like taking the guns early.”
The very next day, the NRA’s top lobbyist infamously paid Trump an Oval Office visit and just like that he reversed his reversal.
Then a year ago this month, after back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, Trump told reporters as he was departing for vacation:
“We need intelligent background checks,” and “We don’t want guns in the hands of the wrong people.”
By the time he returned back to Washington – and again, after phone conversations with the NRA – Trump had reverted back to the fold. “People don’t realize we have very strong background checks right now,” he told reporters.
But to be fair, he’s been consistently inconsistent on a whole range of topics. Just recently, Trump claimed Democratic opponent Joe Biden is “against God” – one day after his own campaign actually unveiled an ad showing Biden praying in church. (And what point were they trying to make there??)
This kind of floundering double-talk has proven disastrous during what we can now call the Trump virus. In April, he unveiled federal guidelines for states to gradually reopen the economy through a three-stage process – then the very next day called on Democrat-led states that had not yet met these guidelines to “liberate” their citizens from restrictions. He’s flipflopped on safety measures and repeatedly shifted the parameters for defining success in battling COVID-19.
Trump’s single consistency during this crisis has been his insistence he’s doing a great job – aside from the 160,000 Americans who have died from the pandemic. Not exactly the “straight talk” his old friend John McCain used to advocate.
D. Allan Kerr can’t wrap his head around a death toll of 160,000 – and climbing. The views expressed are those of the writer. Kerr may be found on the Sloth Blog at https://slothonline.com/portfolio/d-allan-kerr/ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/D-Allan-Kerr-354849648605637/?modal=admin.