Friday night owls. Serwer: Trump’s cult of personality stuck us in this catastrophe. (And a poll)

Friday night owls. Serwer: Trump’s cult of personality stuck us in this catastrophe. (And a poll)

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week

Adam Serwer at The Atlantic writes—Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality Did This:

The bizarre ritual of public-health officials fawning over the president during coronavirus briefings is not some trivial matter. In fact, it illustrates how democratic backsliding during the Trump administration has damaged the federal government’s ability to respond to emergencies and the credibility of its public statements on matters of life and death. Authoritarian leaders prize loyalty over expertise, and part of the way such leaders determine loyalty is through demanding sycophantic praise from underlings, smoking out those unwilling to bend the knee. This is how you end up with the president’s unqualified, pampered son-in-law, his foggy brain addled by Fox News propaganda, using his influence to undermine officials trying to turn back the outbreak.

A pandemic is precisely the kind of situation that shows why it is important to have a government staffed by qualified civil servants, rather than whimpering toadies who can’t deliver bad news to a mercurial president whose main priority is protecting himself. At least part of the federal government’s delayed response, Politico reported, is because Trump “rewards those underlings who tell him what he wants to hear while shunning those who deliver bad news.” The president’s fragile ego is proving deadly.

Trump is hardly the first politician to lie about the scope of a problem to preserve his public image. The distinction here is that, having decided that he would downplay the dangers of the coronavirus, the authoritarian cult of personality built up around the president and maintained by conservative media reverently amplified the president’s messaging.  […]

A global pandemic would have been a challenge for any administration, for any government. But the scale of this tragedy was not inevitable. America’s shuttered storefronts, overflowing emergency rooms, and shattered families are the toxic fruit of a political culture in which Donald Trump’s image, as the avatar of the will of the people, matters more than actual people do.

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QUOTATION

“To those who charge that liberalism has been tried and found wanting, I answer that the failure is not in the idea, but in the course of recent history. The New Deal was ended by World War II. The New Frontier was closed by Berlin and Cuba almost before it was opened. And the Great Society lost its greatness in the jungles of Indochina.” ~~George McGovern (1970)

TWEET OF THE DAY

The fact that our legislature (which selects for divided government and features âÂ�Â� 17 veto points) is antithetical to crisis management is one of many flaws in our Constitution. But good chance it’s what breaks the whole thing once climate chaos heats up https://t.co/gYF6S9WlOh

— Eric Levitz (@EricLevitz) March 20, 2020

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2010—Stupak Situation:

Bart Stupak successfully hijacked the healthcare debate, again, threatening to bring the whole bill down if he can’t take abortion coverage away from millions and millions of women. The situation is still very much in flux, but it would appear that his push for an enrollments correction resolution was floated by leadership, and possibly tanked by the pro-choice caucus, who according to the Twitterverse, threatened to bolt if he got his vote.

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