President Trump has told allies that his re-election depends on one thing — his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
But with his approval ratings dipping, a six-byline New York Times exposé on the weekend laid the nation’s 20,000 COVID-19 deaths at his feet.
Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats also show no reluctance to capitalize on tragedy to optimize their chances in November.
So, as he readies himself for what he calls “the biggest decision of my life” — how and when to loosen restrictions and allow the economy to breathe — hanging over him is the knowledge that he will be blamed for every additional death.
The opportunistic narrative of blame against Trump is congealing fast, driven by the usual suspects, as well as by a loose, loquacious presidential style on show for too long each day at task-force briefings.
What should have been an easy election win BC (Before Corona) against a lackluster opponent amid a booming economy is now a riskier prospect.
If the election was important before, now it’s of crucial, nation-shaking moment. You can see why in the unseemly way Pelosi has stuffed relief bills with shameless leftist boondoggles, and in her colleague Ilhan Omar’s call for a Venezuelan-style “nationalization” of the health system.
Nothing will stop them remaking America in their own image.
So Trump has a task ahead.
Last month, he described himself as the “wartime president” to lead America though this crisis.
Well, here is advice from the greatest wartime leaders of history, superbly curated by historian Andrew Roberts.
His timely new book, “Leadership in War: Essential Lessons from Those Who Made History,” distills the best qualities of wartime leaders including Napoleon Bonaparte, Horatio Nelson, Winston Churchill, Charles De Gaulle, Dwight Eisenhower and Margaret Thatcher.
Hint: egotism is not a drawback, but ignorance of history is.
“Each of these nine leaders had a profound sense of self-belief, an attribute that is central to great war leadership . . . .
“Nor were setbacks allowed to dash the hopes of these leaders; rather, they tended to be used to steel them.”
Napoleon, France’s first emperor and military general, worked eighteen-hour days. He wanted everything done quickly: “action, action speed!”
He also took credit for the ideas and hard work of others.
He planned meticulously, had superb timing and steady nerves, gave inspirational speeches, controlled the news, asked “pertinent questions of the right people, [had] a formidable memory, utter ruthlessness when necessary. . . immense calm under unimaginable pressure (especially in moments that look like defeat), an almost obsessive-compulsive attention to detail.”
Admiral Lord Nelson was derided by the history books almost as much as Trump is by the media: “gauche, vain, priggish, hypochondriacal . . . petulant, undignified, self-pitying . . . peevish . . . egotist, braggart.”
Many of the slurs were true, writes Roberts, “but he was also unquestionably the greatest military hero whom England has ever produced.”
Britain’s naval commander of the Napoleonic wars, Nelson mixed “fearless gallantry, unrelenting aggression . . . hatred of the French . . . and a genius for both naval strategy and tactics with monstrous vanity, ceaseless self-promotion, and a driving ambition.”
Men of action are “generally boastful and full of themselves.”
Yet, writes Roberts, for all of Nelson’s personal failings, his infidelity to his wife, his “vanity, the absurdly inflated [self-regard], the love of flattery,” he saved his country from invasion and secured “its domination of the world’s oceans for more than a century. [So] who cares about a bit of peevishness and undignified petulance?”
From General Eisenhower, the 34th president and Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War II, we learn that “the hide of a pachyderm is necessary to a great commander.”
He made decisions and accepted responsibility. In case D-Day turned out badly he wrote a communique declaring: “If blame attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.”
One thing the great wartime leaders had in common was, “an absolute faith” in their people as superior to their antagonists.
“Abraham Lincoln and both Roosevelts believed in America as the most extraordinary experiment in nation-creating in human history . . . All of the [wartime leaders] believed in the capabilities of the tribe he or she led.
“They believed in what is now called national exceptionalism,” as has every tribal leader throughout history.
Gen. De Gaulle, who led the French Resistance against Nazi Germany, was an ardent nationalist and Anglophobe, but this, writes Roberts, is what ensured that France was treated better than other free European governments in wartime London.
De Gaulle demanded equal esteem for his country with Britain and the United States.
“He had a totally clear view of French national interest, and for him nothing else mattered.”
He saved the honor of his country so “all complaints about his ingratitude, hauteur, and pettiness recede.”
So, too, if Trump the nationalist can be the wartime leader who successfully manages America’s recovery, complaints about his faults will recede in time for victory at the ballot box.
Med staff real heroes of crisis
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson marked his narrow escape from death by COVID-19 with an inspirational video message Easter Sunday. He framed the fight against the virus as an affirmation of British health workers.
“We’re making progress in this national battle because the British public formed a human shield around this country’s greatest national asset, our national health service. We decided that if together, we could . . . stop our [health service] being overwhelmed, then we could not be beaten and this country would . . . overcome this challenge as we have overcome so many challenges in the past.”
Then he thanked by name the people who had cared for him while he was in the hospital.
Doctors, nurses, as well as hospital cleaners, cooks and other health workers, are the soldiers at the frontline of this war. Their valor is recognized in New York with the now ritual evening applause for police, firefighters and ordinary citizens. They deserve no less.
Journo creates fake controversy
Surgeon General Jerome Adams has been slammed as a racist for asking Americans of color to avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs in order to reduce their increased risk of coronavirus death.
“Do it for your abuela [grandmother], do it for your granddaddy, do it for your big momma, do it for your pop pop,” he said.
This is language Adams’ own family uses, he was forced to explain, after PBS’s perpetually offended anchor Yamiche Alcindor decided to stir up trouble on Twitter.
“Context: Many found this language highly offensive,” she wrote.
Yeah, like who? Party of one.