CITYWATCH TODAY--The catastrophic backstory is well-known: Displaying a "beyond criminal," "lethal level of intentional ignorance," our staggeringly incompetent game show host of a president has for months mishandled "the most dangerous pandemic in our lifetime," from firing health teams to rejecting WHO testing kits to ranting, "One day - it's like a miracle - it will disappear," to lying and egregious racist dog-whistling and lying again. Last week, he reached new levels of lunacy in his Nazi-rally, fact-free, increasingly dangerous press briefings: "Call them what they are - propaganda."
After days of boasting, rambling, hyperbolic making up stuff and airing wingnut conspiracy theories, he famously threw a hissy fit when NBC's Peter Alexander asked what he'd say to frightened Americans - "I say you're a terrible reporter" - and even more calamitously spouted "perilously untrue" and now fatal misinformation about "curing" coronavirus cures with malaria drugs he'd just heard about: "I am a big fan. We will see what happens...But I feel good about it. That is all it is, just a feeling. You know, I am a smart guy. I feel good about it. We will see soon enough."
Cue the facepalm seen around the world by stoic, just-the-facts Dr. Anthony Fauci. The circus has prompted growing calls - here, here, here, here - for media to just stop airing what Rachel Maddow called murderous "fairy tales (that are) cruel and harmful and needlessly diverting and wildly irresponsible from anyone in any leadership role (and) actually wildly responsible if someone said that to you from a barstool, if any of us could go to bars anymore."
The vital truth: "When he’s talking about the coronavirus epidemic, more often than not, he is lying." And it keeps getting worse.
Given his pathology - and the fact he's losing money - he is still lying, and blaming other people, especially mayors and governors doing their job better than he is. Thankfully, they hit back: "Lead or get out of the way."
Instead, Monday, as U.S. coronavirus deaths soared to over 100, cases astronomically rose, and hospitals faced critical shortages, he went full bonkers: He bragged "our country wasn't built to be shut down," noted all the deaths from flu, car crashes, economic angst - “You have suicides over things like this" - charged doctors want to "shut down the entire world,” and suggested it might be time to stop all this social-distance nonsense and get back to making money, even if it kills us, which that imbecile in Texas thinks is a fair trade-off. Dan Froomkin: "Let loose the dogs of plague - I'm sick of having to 'govern.'"
For a glimmer of hope, we turn to New York's steadfast Gov. Andrew Cuomo, "the control freak we need right now," who in matter-of-fact daily briefings from the belly of the beast has offered a calm, steady, split-screen view of actual leadership: "ruthlessly direct, faithful to the facts, and in command at all times."
He's insisted on distancing, toured sites for new hospitals, called for nationalizing medical supplies, dramatically claimed full responsibility for his actions - "Blame me"- joked about the hardship of self-isolating - "I’m even getting annoyed with the dog” - and vowed that, while hard, "Life is going to go on." If he doesn't get fired, we also take solace from the patient, sober Dr. Fauci, who in a surprisingly wry interview - on the memorable facepalm: "No comment"- calmly notes, "Let’s get real," he knows the facts often "don't comport" and "I cannot do the impossible" but, "I’m going to keep pushing."
So are a bunch of Italian mayors who've had it with blithe denizens who are out and about: See them shriek "Where are you fucking going?" and threaten to send police with flamethrowers to ill-advised gatherings, and take heart.
(CityWatch guest columnist, Abby Zimet, writes for CommonDreams.org … where this perspective was first posted.)