Donald Trump M.I.A.

On November 4th, after it became apparent that Donald Trump had lost the 2020 presidential election, I suspected that he would not be a gracious loser. Therefore, I haven’t been surprised that Trump has taken the position that the election was “stolen” by Joe Biden. What has shocked me is that Donald has stopped doing his day job. In the midst of four crises, Trump has abandoned any semblance of operating as President of the United States.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised.  From at least the time that Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19, October 2, he checked out of his traditional White House duties.  Since November 3rd, Trump has seldom appeared in public and very rarely spoken to the press.  Nonetheless, Donald has tweeted a lot; an average of 25 per day — 75 percent of these tweets have been claims of election “fraud.” (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/11/24/us/politics/trump-twitter-tweets-election-results.html)

While it’s understandable that Trump is upset and, therefore, has sequestered himself in the White House to “lick his wounds,” that doesn’t excuse his failure to do his job.  The United States is beset by four crises.  Over the next 33 days, we need presidential leadership.

National Security:  On November 4th, after I realized that Trump had lost the election, I mused: “I hope there is no national security event between now and January 20th.”  Unfortunately, the United States has been the target of a massive Russian cyberattack.

Writing in the New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/16/opinion/fireeye-solarwinds-russia-hack.html), Thomas Bossert, former Trump Homeland Security Adviser, observed:

“The [Russian] malware was on [SolarWinds] software from March to June. The number of organizations that downloaded the corrupted update could be as many as 18,000, which includes most federal government unclassified networks and more than 425 Fortune 500 companies. The magnitude of this ongoing attack is hard to overstate.  [Emphasis added] The Russians have had access to a considerable number of important and sensitive networks for six to nine months…While the Russians did not have the time to gain complete control over every network they hacked, they most certainly did gain it over hundreds of them. It will take years to know for certain which networks the Russians control and which ones they just occupy.”

This is the most serious cyberattack ever.  The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said the hack, “poses a grave risk to the Federal Government and state, local, tribal, and territorial governments as well as critical infrastructure entities and other private sector organizations.”  It’s an act of war.

President Trump has yet to address this crisis.

Coronavirus Pandemic:  We’re in the middle of the third wave of the pandemic.  So far, 17.7 million Americans have been infected and 320 thousand have died — we’re adding 220 thousand new patients per day.  Since November 3rd, Donald Trump has frequently tweeted, but not about the pandemic.  (On November 13th, Trump held a brief press event, to tout the development of the Pfizer vaccine; he took no questions and did not acknowledge the US pandemic statistics.)

US Economy: In the closing days of the presidential election, Donald Trump ran with the message: “Biden wants to shut down the economy, I want to open it up.  Coronavirus is no big deal; I survived it.”  Of course, we’ve learned that Coronavirus is a big deal, and that it does have a savage impact on the economy.

At the moment, because of the third wave of the pandemic, the U.S. economy has stalled.  Employment growth has slowed down and unemployment lingers around 7 percent.  This week jobless claims increased to a three-month high (885,000).  Consumer confidence has fallen.  About 25 percent of US renters face eviction.  Millions of Americans are suffering.

At this writing, the US Congress is struggling to agree on a compromise stimulus package.  Donald Trump has had only marginal involvement in this process. (And, Trump has not addressed the pain endured by many working-class Americans.)

National Confidence:  Finally, as if it weren’t bad enough that Donald Trump has ignored a Russian cyberattack, mismanaged the pandemic, and provided no economic leadership, he has also failed to send a positive Christmas message.  We’re coming to the end of a very difficult year; American need to be cheered up.  A normal president would transmit a message of hope.

Instead, Donald has hunkered down in the White House.  Trump’s narcissistic focus is on the 2020 election results.  This stance furthers the impression that the 45th President of the United States does not care about the welfare of the American people — that Donald Trump only cares about himself.  At a time when Americans need to come together to fight for the common good, Trump is, instead, promoting a message of “you’re on your own.”

Donald Trump has, once again, failed to be a leader.  Since November 3rd, he’s M.I.A.