Donald Trump, the king of contradictions and serial transmitter of mixed messages, has struck again.
If you’re unacquainted with the US president because you prefer political leaders to talk about actual issues instead of themselves, let me tell you a little about America’s 45th president.
Trump, a former businessman and television personality, has a tendency to say one thing one day and completely contradict himself the next.
He also seems to have a penchant for going against the advice of experts and loves controversy more than your cat loves ignoring you.
These traits aren’t exactly the best combination for a leader who has to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in the world’s second-largest democracy.
While his botched response to the Covid-19 outbreak wasn’t surprising, no one could have anticipated just how many times the US president would contradict himself or go against the advice of health officials.
In January, Trump said that the coronavirus was nothing to worry about before contradicting that statement in March, saying he knew it was a pandemic long before anyone else did.
Here are some actual quotes from the world’s most orange political leader:
“We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
“Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low”.
“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
“I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”
Trump has also touted an unproven drug for the coronavirus, suggested people could inject disinfectant as a cure, and refused to wear a mask despite the advice of medical experts and health organisations.
Trump Just Encouraged People to Wear Masks
In his first coronavirus briefing since the whole disinfectant debacle, Trump encouraged Americans to don masks if they cannot practise social distancing.
In fact, he’s urging residents to wear masks whether they like it or not, according to Al Jazeera.
“We’re asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, get a mask. Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact, they’ll have an effect and we need everything we can get,” he said.
The US president said he was still getting used to wearing masks, adding that he would do so in groups or when on an elevator.
“I will use it, gladly,” he said. “Anything that potentially can help…is a good thing.”
You’re probably wondering why this is a big deal. Well, that’s because he was initially dismissive of them and even once suggested that they could be counterproductive.
Trump’s Initial Stance
As Politico’s Matthew Choi writes, Trump has long refused to wear a mask. He’s declined to be photographed wearing a mask in public and even mocked his political opponent Joe Biden, who’s going to run against him in the upcoming election, for wearing one.
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He’s also long refused to encourage others to wear masks, despite the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Once, he even suggested that wearing face coverings was counterproductive:
“Masks are a double-edged sword,” he said. “People touch them. And they grab them and I see it all the time. They come in, they take the mask. Now they’re holding it now in their fingers. And they drop it on the desk and then they touch their eye and they touch their nose. No, I think a mask is a — it’s a double-edged sword.”
Here are some more quotes from the US president on masks, courtesy of The Washington Post.
- “You know, there was a time when people thought it was worse wearing a mask. I let people make up their own decision.”
- “So with the masks, it’s going to be, really, a voluntary thing. You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it, and that’s okay. It may be good. Probably will. They’re making a recommendation. It’s only a recommendation. It’s voluntary.”
So, why the sudden change of heart? Has Trump finally realised that the Covid-19 outbreak is a serious health crisis that cannot be taken lightly?
A Worsening Pandemic & the Presidential Election
What likely changed his mind, as ABC News reported, is the worsening Covid-19 situation in the US and the Presidential election.
The US now has 4,100,875 infections and 146,183 deaths, the highest numbers in the world.
Cases have spiked since the beginning of June, and the situation is so severe that US daily case records have been broken nine times in the past month.
Some states that previously opened up have also brought back lockdown orders.
Secondly, the Presidential Election is 100 days away, and Biden is leading Trump in the polls.
As ABC News reported: “If an election were held today, Trump would likely lose in a landslide to former vice-president Joe Biden.”
One of the reasons he’s lost so many voters is because of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, prompting him to follow the advice of health officials in an attempt to win them back.
If you’re surprised that he’s changed his stance on masks just because it benefits him and not the entire nation he’s leading, well, then you don’t know Trump at all.
We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President! pic.twitter.com/iQOd1whktN
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2020
(Oh yes, he also calls Covid-19 the “Invisible China Virus” sometimes.)
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