Was there ever another president, or national ruler, whose every action, decision or statement would effortlessly cascade across his country in a torrent of irony?
Starting with the obvious, this Coronavirus from which we all seek protection or recovery, was detected and reported to President Trump sometime in late January. That he fully understood the danger it posed for the country and its citizens is made clear in the tapes Bob Woodward released with his latest book, “Rage.”
“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump confides to Woodward on February 7th of this year. “And so that’s a very tricky one,” he continued. “That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu…This is deadly stuff.”
Compare those words from a fully informed president with the actions, or lack of action, Trump subsequently undertook, and you’re left standing on a quickly melting iceberg in a sea of irony.
Rather than marshal the forces of the US government to withstand this looming invasive threat, rather than invoke the power of the Defense Production Act to offset predictable shortages of medical equipment the country would need, Trump imposed a partial ban of travel from China and went about his business as usual. Choosing to view the ensuing death and calamity as a problem best left to the states to manage.
Not only did President Trump fail to take ample measures to protect the country, his words and actions up until this past weekend were all designed to give the public a false sense of security.
Knowing full well that the virus was passed in the air, he nevertheless chose to model irresponsible behavior by not wearing a mask and making those who sensibly chose to wear masks subject to derision and ridicule, setting one group of Americans against another. So, yes, the irony of turning a life-saving measure like mask-wearing into a political schism, amongst other actions to obscure the truth of the virus from Americans, will haunt Trump’s presidential legacy down through history.
The ironies of this Prince of Irony are countless, though the motivations behind them still remain obscure. Many of Trump’s questionable decisions about American foreign relations defy comprehension. Most of them can only be answered by leaps of logic that border on treason and traitorous behavior. The abandonment of our Kurd allies in Syria, the crumbling of relations with age-old NATO allies, the withholding of critical military supplies from Ukraine, all redound to the interest of Russia instead of America.
And now, we are left to face the biggest irony of all. The man who famously denied the virus has been struck down by it. The billionaire who paid either nothing or $750 a year in taxes during the last 15 years, is now enjoying taxpayer-funded medical care only a monarch could normally afford.
But that’s not the biggest irony we now face. Those of us who dislike, distrust and resent Trump’s boorish and irresponsible behavior in office are left to face our own intractable irony.
As compassionate human beings we cannot help but wish a safe—but maybe not so speedy—recovery to this man we fear will complete the destruction of American democracy if he’s left to pursue another four years as President of the United States.
If that’s not irony, what is?