Monday, April 27, 2020

The President And The Pandemic

The New York Times analyzed Trump's comments about the current pandemic from March 9 to mid-April.  The results will not surprise you at all if you have read my earlier post about Trump's narcissism:

The New York Times analyzed every word Mr. Trump spoke at his White House briefings and other presidential remarks on the virus — more than 260,000 words — from March 9, when the outbreak began leading to widespread disruptions in daily life, through mid-April. The transcripts show striking patterns and repetitions in the messages he has conveyed, revealing a display of presidential hubris and self-pity unlike anything historians say they have seen before.
By far the most recurring utterances from Mr. Trump in the briefings are self-congratulations, roughly 600 of them, which are often predicated on exaggerations and falsehoods. He does credit others (more than 360 times) for their work, but he also blames others (more than 110 times) for inadequacies in the state and federal response.
Mr. Trump’s attempts to display empathy or appeal to national unity (about 160 instances) amount to only a quarter of the number of times he complimented himself or a top member of his team.
Bolds are mine.

That his attempts to display empathy are fairly rare is because he cannot feel empathy but must simulate it.  Neither can he really understand why others find empathy important in a leader.  This is because he literally does not have the capacity to feel empathy (and not because he would be particularly sadistic, say).

These are the consequences of so many people voting for someone with this particular personality type to run the country.  

Other consequences also follow:

Narcissism also makes learning new things seem pointless.  After all, a narcissist must already pretend to be perfect, which makes extra learning unnecessary!  Thus, we now have a president who can't be bothered to learn anything, but who enjoys publicly speculating* about possible treatments that could work against the virus.  Ingesting bleach might work, he speculates.

Trump does not like the new game he accidentally began, about his theories about disinfectants and the effect of light on the coronavirus, because that is a tough game for him to win against medical experts.  His current countermove is to state that he was being sarcastic and that he was talking to the press, his favorite enemy, not to the medical expert present at the time.  Sadly, all video evidence suggests that neither of those countermoves are true.

It will be interesting to see which new outrage-game he will start to move the media's attention away from the game he dislikes.

Actually, it's not interesting at all, and neither is dissecting Trump's various rage tweets or the moves in his narcissistic games.  All this could have been avoided in 2016.

In the meantime, the US covid-19 deaths are likely to exceed 60,000, even with a calculation method likely to lead to severe under-counting of actual deaths either directly or indirectly caused by the virus.

* Because he craves the attention.  Negative attention is better than no attention, though adulation is what he is looking for.