One of the most important duties of a president is one that isn’t written in the Constitution. In the event of a national crisis or tragedy, the president is supposed to be a voice of comfort and encouragement, and the first person to whom Americans look in order to console them. In other words, the president is supposed to be the nation’s “Comforter-in-Chief.”
Unfortunately Donald Trump has proven time and again that he hasn’t even begun to be up to that task. This was proven yet again during a Friday press conference on the coronavirus outbreak. NBC News’ Peter Alexander tried to give Trump a chance to console a public facing increasingly tighter measures to keep the virus from spreading. Unfortunately, Trump blew it eight ways to Sunday. Watch here.
Alexander asked Trump what seemed to be an obvious question–“What do you say to Americans right now who are scared?” In a response that had the air of one of his Twitter tirades, Trump called Alexander “a terrible reporter,” and accused Alexander of asking “a very nasty question” while feeding “sensationalism” to the American people rather than “hope.”
Later that day on sister network MSNBC, Alexander told Andrea Mitchell that he was actually trying to help Trump. Watch here.
Alexander said that he was trying to lob a “softball” at Trump–a chance to provide “a positive and uplifting message” to a nation that sorely needed it. Then again, we are dealing with a president who considers only fawning coverage of him to be acceptable.
The other daily press conferences on the outbreak have been equally laden with word salad, misinformation, and snappish responses from Trump. It’s led a lot of people to ask, “Where are the Democrats?” Specifically, where is the all-but-certain Democratic presidential nominee, former vice president Joe Biden?
Well, it turns out that Biden has spent the last few days preparing for a daily “shadow briefing” on the outbreak to show how he would handle this crisis. His home in Wilmington, Delaware has been outfitted with equipment that will allow him to livestream messages and have press conferences and interviews.
In other words, if you’ll pardon a Trumpian expression, Biden is about to unleash a counterattack the likes of which Trump has probably never seen since Trump came down the escalator. Apparently the Biden campaign team saw this press conference as a way to show just what Trump is in for, because it put together a Web ad showing their boss actually trying to console the American people. Watch here.
The ad mashes up Trump’s testy response to Alexander on the left with clips of Biden fielding an almost identical question from CNN’s Jake Tapper at the last Democratic presidential debate on the right.
When Tapper asked Biden what he would say to a people facing “this new reality,” Biden replied that the outbreak was “bigger than any one of us” and called for “a national rallying.” Driving the point home further, he said that this outbreak was “an all hands on deck” moment.
After all, he said, this was about the nation and the world. He believed this was a moment to see “how we bring people together and make the kind of sacrifices we need” to face this crisis.
Now, who would you want as your president in a time like this? For my money, I’d rather have the guy on the right.
In just a few seconds, Biden delivered a message of inspiration, one that appeals to our “better angels.” When we face a crisis of this magnitude, we don’t need a president who says, “I alone can fix it.” We need a president who can console the nation and give us hope. Anything less than that is, as Biden would say, “malarkey.”
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