Feeling blue, beleaguered and dispirited: time for my favorite “Good morning” video again:
1. Yes, it’s another KABOOM! to begin the day. The same critics who attack the President every day for his response to the virus, whatever he does or says, have been alternately praising China for its handling of the pandemic or defending it. Now look at these photos from two days ago, April 4, showing Chinese citizens heading for the Huangshan mountain park to enjoy the great outdoors, as CNN put it.
2. Today in leadership ethics…on this date in 1841, President William Henry Harrison, then the oldest man by far to take the Presidential oath of office (America take note), died after just 31 days from a cold he caught by grandstanding to show he wasn’t so old (he refused to wear a top coat in freezing weather, and delivered what is still the longest inaugural address in our history). He was the first President to die in office. He also died after being elected in a year ending with a zero, launching a creepy 120 year tradition of every POTUS elected in such a year also dying in office (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, FDR, JFK) until Ronald Reagan beat it, though just barely.
Vice President John Tyler was sworn into office amidst mass confusion: the Constitution was unclear about what happens when a President dies. It directed that in case of the President’s death “the Powers and Duties of the said office” “shall devolve upon the Vice President” until a new President is elected. Here the most unlikely of leaders, an obscure figure from the opposition party (Tyler was a Southern slave-holding Democrat put on the Whig ticket, maybe because “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!” scanned) who had no constituency, looked like Ichabod Crane…
…and who later joined the Confederate cabinet, made a bold decision that changed American history in too many ways to imagine.
While many experts and legal scholars argued that he was only a temporary, acting-POTUS until a special election could be held, Tyler decreed that he was, in fact, the President, and would serve out Harrison’s full term. Congress couldn’t figure out how to stop him, and thus the United States, by accident and the unilateral decree of an otherwise minor political figure, adopted the smooth manner of transition that has served it so well. It wasn’t until the 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, that there was anything in the Constitution saying directly that the Vice President permanently assumes the job and finishes out the term upon the death, resignation or removal of the President.
Fun fact: President Tyler, who was born in 1790, has a grandson living in Virginia. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr., born in 1924, is 96 years old. I once saw him from afar when he was still living at the Tyler plantation, dubbed Sherwood Forest.
3. Today’s gratuitous and divisive bit of pundit Trump hate comes from Times op-ed writer Jennifer Senior, whose screed is called “Trump’s Nacissiam Could Cost Us Our Lives.” How’s that for a hysterical and fear-mongering hyperbole? She’s a progressive Obama fan (One of her book is called “Dreaming of Obama”), and despite a lack of training or experience in psychology or psychiatry, she presumes to tell us how President Trump’s narcissism—there’s no denying he’s a narcissist, like about 75% of our Presidents, including dreamy Barack Obama—is undermining the response to the Wuhan virus.
I was eager to read this one, as I have been desperately seeking a specific explanation about exactly how the President can be credibly blamed, now or ever, for a single Wuhan virus death beyond “If he had done something other than what he did, different things might have happened.” I was, of course, disappointed.
There is literally nothing substantive in the op-ed beyond various distillations of the Big Lies we have been hearing and reading all along, and conclusions that flow from “I hate this guy; don’t you hate this guy?” rather than any serious analysis. Here’s an example:
Narcissistic leaders never have, as Trump likes to say, the best people. “They have galleries of sycophants. With the exceptions of Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, Trump has surrounded himself with a Z-team of dangerously inexperienced toadies and flunkies — the bargain-bin rejects from Filene’s Basement — at a time when we require the brightest and most imaginative minds in the country.”
Well, I could have a ball deconstructing that ridiculous sentence, as I suspect could you. What Senior would presumably call an example of “the best and the brightest” are non-toadies like MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, the main architect of Obamacare, who was caught on video several times mocking how gullible the American public was to fall for the administration’s fictions about the Affordable Care Act, or Attorney General Eric Holder, who refused to permit an independent investigation into the non-toadying IRS sabotaging Tea Party groups before the 2012 elections, or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who [fill in the blanks]. Meanwhile, “best and brightest” Dr. Fauci was telling the President in February that the virus wouldn’t be a big concern, and Dr. Birx says things in public like this.
The entire piece is nothing more than another iteration of “Orange Man bad, so anyone he appoints is bad, and anything that happens is worse than it would have been if someone other than Bad Orange Man was in office.” For three and a half years we have been reading this junk, the same thing over and over, and the division, cynicism and distrust that this has engendered COULD cost us our lives, or at least our democracy.
4. Ann Althouse chose a different Times Trump-hate op-ed to fisk, a Frank Bruni rant headlined, “Has Anyone Found Trump’s Soul? Anyone?” She does, as usual, a great job, coming from the same perspective I do, a non-Trump voter who has kept bias and the herd instinctat bay sufficiently to find the Democratic/”resistance”/ mainstream media assault on Trump repulsive. She concludes,
I see Bruni stumbling through the canyons of his mind. There’s an outpost up ahead… your next stop — the Trump Hotel. Columnists check in. But they never check out.
5. Once again, Ethics Alarms asks, “Where is the ACLU?” In another example of gratuitous and troubling police state tactics on the pretense of “protecting the public,” Kansas City police broke up a driving parade of elementary school teachers and administrators on April 4 because, the police said, the celebration was nonessential and against state orders.
John Fiske Elementary School workers had gathered in their cars at 11 a.m. for what they called the “Lion Pride Parade 2020,” according to the school’s Facebook page, which included the parade route the cars were going to take. The harmless and non-infectious idea was to celebrate the beginning of distance learning for students forced to take their classes over the internet beginning today, showing the students their teachers care about them and also demonstrate social distancing.
Nancy Chartrand, public information officer with the KCKPD, said officers were only following state-mandated orders.
“Only following orders”...where have I heard that before? I’m sure it will come to me…