Any moment now, the official total of American deaths from COVID-19 will cross 100,000. Truthfully, this event has already happened, but weekends—especially holiday weekends—have seen delays in reporting cases and deaths. Less than a month ago, Trump was bragging that the total number of deaths was “going toward 50 or 60,000 people.” A week later, when 50,000 was already approaching, Trump said that we were “probably heading to 60,000, 70,000.” Less than a week after that, 60,000 was crossed.
What did Trump do when the nation crossed that 60,000 number? He bragged about it again. “What we did is a great tribute to this country,” said Trump. “But if we lost … so if we lose 65,000 people … it’s so crazy to say it … It’s just so horrible, but if we lose 65,000 people, and instead of that going the other route, we would have lost a million or a million and a half or two million. It’s possible. It’s possible that you lost more. But could you imagine?” More such eloquence is likely today as the nation aches, sobs, and mourns its way into six digits of death. But in preparation for this moment, Trump did what he did in preparation for the whole pandemic … he went golfing.
Memorial Day is officially a day on which the United States remembers and honors the sacrifice of those who lost their lives in defending the nation. But it is also a moment to pause, reflect, and remember those things that are important—so it’s no surprise that Donald Trump spent the weekend making vile accusations, fact-free claims, and above all … playing golf.
It may not have seemed appropriate, but it was absolutely perfect that Trump was on the course over the weekend, carting from one muffed shot to another, pointlessly waggling his nine-iron fiddle around while the nation burns with fever. Had Trump chosen to stay inside, issue reasonable statements, and model proper behavior that would have been a bigger lie than any he issued. Because everyone, everyone, everyone knows that’s not who Donald Trump is.
Instead, Trump alternated between playing cart polo and mashing his thumbs on Tweets in which he used his account to promote a tweet calling Hillary Clinton “skank” and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams fat. He also encouraged his followers to torture the family of a young woman who died years ago by spreading long-debunked claims that she had been murdered while working for Joe Scarborough. In between the gross personal threats, Trump found time to spread lies about voting by mail — once again making it clear that the Republican Party desperately fears anything that would bring more Americans to the polls.
What Trump couldn’t manage to locate in the intervals between the rough and the sand trap, was any gratitude for veterans who lost their lives, or any sympathy for the thousands losing their lives right now. The closest that Trump came was an astoundingly inappropriate, and all caps, “HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!” tweet … somewhere amidst the “skank” and false murder claims.
Let’s go back for a moment, to what seems a century ago … March 6. That was the day that Donald Trump was scheduled to visit the CDC to demonstrate that he was actually taking a break from golfing and rallies to pay attention to an epidemic that was already solidly entrenched across the United States. But as time approached for Trump’s CDC visit on that day, Trump scheduled, unscheduled, and rescheduled repeatedly after learning that a CDC employee had tested positive for the virus. Finally, Trump made a token stop at CDC before hustling on to Mar-a-Lago for two days of golf even as the nation tumbled into panic and grocery store shelves were emptied.
Trump also spent two weekends in February on the links, while other nations were wasting their time preparing for the coming pandemic, distributing supplies, and developing national policies. He was on the golf course when the U.S. citizens on the Diamond Princess were desperately seeking rescue, and on the course when the first case of community spread on the West Coast was reported. But even golfing wasn’t the way that Trump spent most of his time since a major briefing in late January made it clear that the novel coronavirus was likely to become a major pandemic. Trump received dedicated briefings on the threat of COVID-19 on January 23 and again on January 28. Trump responded by holding a rally that night, then another, and another. Trump had eight rallies over the next 30 days, with the last one being on March 2, when official cases in the United States had already topped 100 and there were actually hundreds, if not thousands, more undetected in the Northeast.
It’s no wonder that Trump issued a “happy” Memorial Day tweet. After the inconvenience of being kept away from the course for a few weeks, he’s back to what really concerns him — herding that ball toward the cup. And, of course, insulting women.
Correction: This post originally stated that Trump tweeted the attacks himself but has been updated to state that these were retweeted. It also stated the tweets called Nancy Pelosi a ‘skank’ but has been updated to Hillary Clinton. A link to the story has also been provided.