I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. The Bible says, “Like a maniac who shoots deadly firebrands and arrows, so is one who deceives a neighbor and says, ‘I am only joking!'” (Proverbs 26.18-19 NRSV). Donald Trump, or along with his aides, has done this multiple times in his 3.5year presidency.
Ever since this COVID-19 health crisis has struck the world four months ago, our health experts have been saying that testing people to find out if they have this disease is extremely important in attempting to control it. But President Trump has been complaining that the more people who test positive with this disease makes him look bad as the president. So, he has made comments indicating that he would rather not see those numbers going up higher. And he has indicated that he would like for health experts to not test so much or not report the findings. That indicates that he cares more about his reputation as the president, and perhaps getting reelected, than he does about the American people. If that is true, then he motto–Make America Great Again–is a farce, and what he really means is Make Trump Great Again.
The alarming thing about this is that the U.S., which has for many decades been regarded as having the greatest health care system of any nation, has been very laggard compared to several other nations in doing testing during the early weeks or even months of this crisis. The main reason for this was that the U.S. was way undersupplied with test kits for COVID-19. We Americans thought that our government would then go to work to quickly get the needed amount of test kits to health care workers.
Instead, President Trump turned that issue over to Vice President Mike Pence. And Trump explained that he was not his responsibility to make available testing kits, adding that that was the state governors’ responsibility. But the governors complained that there were certain reasons why they could not sufficiently do that, making it more the responsibility of the federal government. Thus, it has looked like President Trump has failed miserably in this. But really, President Trump early on made light of this virus pandemic, saying it would soon be gone. He has proved to be a false prophet about that.
Last night, in President Trump’s speech at the political rally in Tulsa, he said he told his staff concerning COVID-19 testing, “slow the testing down.” Minutes later, his aides said to the media that he was not serious, but only “joking” or “kidding.”
When Trump was interviewed about this today by Scripps News at the White House, he did not admit that he had been joking. Rather, he said, “If we did slow it down, we wouldn’t show nearly as many cases.” Well, of course, that is obvious. But that response, which did not include a remark saying he had been joking, is also obvious that Trump meant what he said last night, that he indeed had told his staff without joking, “slow the testing down.”
Senior Editor Jerry Adler at Yahoo News wrote on April 20, 2019, “Trump has a habit of saying outrageous, inflammatory and offensive things that he, or his minions, explain away as jokes, or with some variation of ‘He didn’t mean it.’ This defense was memorably on display when he called the Access Hollywood tape ‘locker-room talk.’ The most recent example came by way of the report by special counsel Robert Mueller in a footnote about Trump’s written response last November to a question about what Trump meant when he challenged Russian hackers to find emails that had been deleted from Hillary Clinton’s email server.
‘”I will tell you this: Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,’ Trump said at a press conference on July 27, 2016. ‘I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.’
“Trump’s explanation to special counsel prosecutors was that he ‘made the … statement in jest and sarcastically, as was apparent to any objective observer.’”
“That’s plausible, although mainly because Mueller, and media reports over the years, have established that there were multiple lines of communication between the Trump campaign and people in Russia connected to the Kremlin. A serious request from Trump could have been conveyed much more discreetly.
“But, as Mueller notes, the Kremlin apparently wasn’t in on the joke, because ‘within five hours of Trump’s remark, a Russian intelligence service began targeting email accounts associated with Hillary Clinton for possible hacks.'”
When a person later says of a remark they made, that they were not serious but just joking, it can make a difference to see how the person said it. Thus, when President Trump makes such outrageous, public statements that don’t sit well with the public, or might get him into some trouble such as legal trouble, and he is filmed saying it and it is put on TV, viewers can then surmise whether or not they think Trump’s facial expressions, etc., when he made such remarks indicate if he was serious or joking.
Trump’s speech last night, when he said he told his staff, “slow the testing down,” was indeed televised. I watched it, and in my opinion he definitely was not joking about it. This has occurred multiple times since Trump has been president. That is why I think Proverbs 26.18-19 fits him perfectly, that when he later says he had been joking when he wasn’t, that he is “like a maniac who shoots deadly firebrands and arrows.”
But to make this matter much worse, we are talking about a viral disease sweeping our nation like nothing we have ever seen before, in fact, spreading throughout the world. In less than four months, it has killed 120,000 of our U.S. citizens, and it is not letting up. Many states are now seeing a rise in both positive-tested people and deaths from it. Yet, last night, Trump referred to it as “the Kung flu,” as if that is funny. That demeans Asians and it is not funny since 120,000 people have died and because of this disease our economy is in the worst recession since the Depression. How can anyone make fun of all of that? Only a maniac can.