Donald Trump’s Non-Benign Boobery

Jim Loscalzo/CNP via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

I got a lot of flak for saying this on Friday:

In just a couple of weeks, Trump has gone from being a boob, but a relatively benign one, to a boob who could end up killing a lot of people.

It’s easy to see how this could be misinterpreted, so it’s worth explaining what I meant. It’s simple: Donald Trump does a lot of stuff that pretty much any Republican would do. He tries to repeal Obamacare. He puts kids in cages on the border. He cuts back on food stamps. This is policy stuff.

But then there’s the boobery that comes out of Trump’s mouth. This is all on top of what any normal Republican would do, and for the most part it’s both stupid and embarrassing but not especially harmful in a concrete way. With a few exceptions, it might be hurtful to hear this stuff but it won’t kill you. This is what I meant by “relatively benign.”

Trump’s reponse to the coronavirus is entirely different. On the policy side, he has FUBARed massively. He ignored the outbreak at first. Then he shut down travel to China and figured that would be enough despite unanimous expert opinion to the contrary. He waited weeks to appoint a coronavirus czar, and when he did he chose the unqualified Mike Pence. One result of this has been the testing debacle. Another is the cruise ship debacle. There’s no telling what’s next.

But then, on top of all that, there’s the Trump boobery. Coronavirus is no big deal. Everyone who wants a test can get one. He’s not taking any special precautions himself. He’s going to keep holding his rallies. He doesn’t want to unload a cruise ship because it might hurt his “numbers.” This is, as usual, stupid and uninformed, but it’s also genuinely dangerous. Above and beyond the policy shambles coming out of his dysfunctional administration, Trump’s rhetoric is likely to cause his supporters to do dumb things that will increase the death rate from coronavirus. Normally his mouth is childish and hurtful, but now it’s worse. It might start getting people killed in large numbers.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate