Donald Trump
Credit: The White House/Flickr

Other than his own special brand of grievance politics, Trump had planned to run his 2020 campaign by touting two things: (1) the economy, and (2) all of the extremist conservatives judges he has nominated to the federal courts.

The arrival of the coronavirus crisis totally obliterated his messaging on number one. That is precisely why he wants to ignore the ravages of the pandemic and has spent so much time on re-opening the economy. More recently, that focus has shifted to re-opening schools in the fall, going so far as to override CDC guidelines and threatening to pull federal funding from districts that don’t comply.

It’s important to keep in mind that the guy who cheated on his SAT’s isn’t doing all of this because he has a passion for education. He knows that one of the best ways to get parents back to work is to get their kids back in school. In other words, this is more about Trump’s pressure to get the economy going for his own political benefit than any real concern for children. That is demonstrated by the fact that, as is always the case, this administration has no plan.

But if you’re like me and actually know some teachers, you might be hearing the same thing they’re telling me about all of that. Here’s the scenario I heard from one middle school teacher: “If a child in my classroom tests positive for COVID-19, I have to go into quarantine for two weeks. That will also be true of all of the other teachers who have that child in their classroom, meaning that for just that one case, we’ll need six substitute teachers for two weeks. We already have trouble finding substitutes, so this would be a disaster.”

Compounding that problem is the fact that the coronavirus recession has absolutely devastated state and local budgets. None of them have the kinds of funds required to ensure the payment of qualified substitute teachers. So to stay open, schools would probably have to cram more students in each classroom—increasing the odds that the virus would spread. All of that is in addition to the health risks for everyone concerned, including teachers, students, and their families.

Unless school districts stand up to the Trump administration on this one (as some are already doing), all of that means that the president’s response will simply prolong the spread of COVID-19 and the economic crisis that has resulted from this pandemic. He is just too impulsive and ignorant to understand that. And as Gabriel Sherman reports, he won’t listen.

“You can’t underestimate how hard it is to get information through to him,” a Republican close to the White House said. “When you talk to him, he just talks at you. He doesn’t like to read memos, so there’s not really a way to get through to him. Everyone agrees.”

Joe Biden is a pretty smart guy. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to get the point he made recently about the most basic fact of this crisis: “To fix the economy, we have to get control over the virus.”

One of the greatest tragedies of this country’s history will be that a self-indulgent narcissist occupied the Oval Office during the coronavirus crisis. The economy will not recover in time for him to claim any credit. It will only get worse, as Americans continue to lose both their lives and livelihoods.

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.