The Pied Piper
Donald Trump is the Pied Piper of Covid-19. In case you need a refresher, the 13th century legend of the Pied Piper tells the cautionary tale of the townspeople of Hamelin, Germany. Rats had overrun the town, and they hired the Pied Piper to get rid of the rodents. But after the job was completed, they refused to pay him for his work. A year later the man returned to seek revenge. The town’s children, enchanted by the man gaily playing his flute and dancing down the street, followed him and were lured away, never to be seen again.
The term Pied Piper has come to mean someone whose personal charisma is so great that people will mindlessly follow him (or her), usually at their peril. Some believe the moral of this legend is that cheating people can have unpredictable and awful results. Others see the Pied Piper as a representation of death. But I also see it as the story of a man who sees himself as a victim and whose narcissism and lack of morality is so great, that he feels entitled to exact the most horrific revenge in order to soothe the insult to his ego.
Now we have our own Pied Piper in the person of our esteemed, Self-Proclaimed Wartime President, Donald Trump. He likes to present himself as the leader who rescued us from the scourge of Covid-19. And he feels victimized because he isn’t getting the gratitude, praise and acknowledgment he feels entitled to. His base and the Republican Party, apparently enchanted by his charisma, have followed him everywhere. As for whether—like the Pied Piper of Hamelin—he’ll lead them to dire outcomes, well let’s take a closer look.
Coronavirus Under Control
When we first heard in January that the novel Coronavirus was on the rise in China, our Medically Incompetent Leader assured us, the concerned citizens, there was nothing to fear. “It’s under control,” he said repeatedly. He often reiterated sentiments like, “We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are … getting better. They’re all getting better. … As far as what we’re doing with the new virus, I think that we’re doing a great job.”
Daily, almost through the middle of March, he reassured the citizenry that the virus was under control and would disappear “like a miracle” in April, when the weather warmed. Not only that, but the stock market was looking real good. That is until it wasn’t. On March 16th, the market suffered its worst one-day decline since the Black Monday crash of 1987. The stock market finally took note that Covid-19 was a significant threat to the economy. But that recognition didn’t last very long.
The Rising Death Toll
Despite the rising death toll, Trump continued to play down its seriousness while simultaneously praising the success of his administration’s efforts to keep the death toll down. As the confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States topped 1 million, and the more than 58,000 deaths surpassed the total of U.S. troop fatalities during the Vietnam War, the Trump anointed “Genius with the Great Portfolio but Little Talent,” son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, expressed frustration that the administration did not receive sufficient credit for its wonderful response to the virus. He described it as a “great success story.”
But it was clear that our Great Leader was already tiring from the great lockdown, which was stifling his reelection campaign plans. So, he began tweeting “Liberate Michigan,” “Liberate Minnesota, “Liberate Virginia” to remove their stay at home and other restrictions. And his followers responded with some gun-carrying, Confederate flag protests.
The U.S. was outpacing the rest of the world in the number of cases of and deaths from Covid-19. Nonetheless, the Complainer in Chief began advocating for all states to reopen without regard to guidelines issued by the administration’s own CDC, and many did, particularly in the Trump supporting states in the south and west.
Looking Through Rose Colored Glasses
Growth in employment in June, reversing previous months declines, proved to Trump that his policies on reopening were working. Surely, things would be “rocking” by July, just as LT (little talent) Jared had predicted. Meanwhile the stock market put its rose colored glasses back on and resumed its upward climb.
Despite a soaring number of cases and deaths, everything looked rosy to the Failure-to- Face-Reality star, Trump. It was time to satisfy the unexpressed demands of his fans to see him at a campaign rally. So in the face of unprecedented but false demand for tickets, his Tulsa rally was marked by a “no-show” of 2/3 of arena capacity, or more than 12,000, just to fill the arena, let alone the overflow stands outside.
Reports of his fury leaked out. People were supposed to be willing to risk the virus, even dying, for a chance to see him in person. He was being victimized by the media reporting on the virus, by Dr. Fauci and by the virus itself. His loyal fans in Phoenix would repair his bruised ego. And they tried. The spike in Covid-19 cases wasn’t going to interfere with their undying (oops—perhaps dying) loyalty to this self-absorbed individual.
Alas, Covid is not a fan, and cases spiked in Oklahoma and Arizona. But those were not the only states to experience spikes in Covid-19 cases. The disease spread like wildfire in Texas, Florida, California and Georgia. The cause: opening up the economy too soon at Trump’s urging but in violation of the administration’s own guidelines, and later, unmasked indoor Trump rallies and to a lesser extent, masked outdoor protests.
Open the Schools, or Else
Nonetheless, the Caring Father and Educator President, has now decided that sending children back to school is absolutely essential. He would use his imaginary powers to withhold funding from any school district that did not comply with his wishes. Perhaps one of the few people in the Cabinet more stupid and incompetent than the man with the best words, Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, tried to explain how the Trump policy should be implemented. To no one’s surprise, she was unable to do so. The policy doesn’t exist.
So here we are in the middle of July, when the country could have been recovering, facing much of the same deadly situation we faced in April. Donald Trump couldn’t make it clearer that he doesn’t care about our health and welfare. By his own admission, he “takes no responsibility” and continues to refuse to establish a national plan to respond to this pandemic.
He’s ready to move on, and chooses to ignore insufficient testing and rapid response capability, an insufficient supply of personal protective equipment and hospitals about to or that have already run out of beds and/or staff. We are competing with Brazil for the largest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths anywhere in the world. The United States of America, with the best doctors, hospitals and medical research facilities is a pariah to much of the rest of the world—Americans are not permitted to enter any country in the European Union.
Sycophantic Republican Governors
And despite this and the raging pandemic in their states, many Republican governors still follow the advice and practices of this Ill Informed, Incompetent and Dangerous Treatment-Prescribing Idiot. His message: Covid-19 is a hoax or not that serious and will magically disappear. The sycophantic governors advance this message to their states’ residents, disregarding medical experts’ advice to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Tragically, tens of thousands of entirely preventable deaths are the result.
Other countries with strong national leaders and programs have successfully contained the virus and are responsibly reopening their economies and schools. And despite the clear and non-rebuttable conclusion that a strong national program is required to contain the virus—which most Americans understand and accept—our Failure in Chief is doubling down on his strategy of turning a blind eye and no one will see it. He is leading his followers to their potential doom, and they are following.
With a death toll in excess of 137,000 and tens of thousands more to come, and in spite of the scientific evidence to the contrary, I find it rather extraordinary and difficult to understand that a large portion of Trump supporters still cheer his rambling, often incoherent rants. Doctors and nurses are pleading with the public, but many join the President in his delusional thinking and pronouncements, dancing down the street with him, asserting their right to get sick and make others sick if they choose to.
Real Life Consequences
As more sober, science believing, reality grounded and responsible citizens look on in horror, we see the President, the Pied Piper of Covid-19, leading many of his followers to infection, the potential of life long consequences, or even death. It’s profoundly sad to watch fellow Americans get caught up and sacrificed for Trump’s personal failings and desperate attempt to dismiss the limitations Covid-19 places on the economy and potentially his reelection. His followers won’t escape having to “Pay the Piper.” Sadly, neither will many of us.
Postscript: From The Pied Piper of Hamelin
by Robert Browning
“And nobody could enough admire
The tall man and his quaint attire.
Quoth one: “It’s as if my great-grandsire,
Starting up at the Trump of Doom’s tone,
Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!”