So that’s what the White House purges were about. They weren’t political payback—they were for our protection!
Government officials who told the truth about Ukraine weren’t frog-marched out of their offices in a loyalty crackdown. No, it was a selfless gesture on the president’s part. He was simply getting a jump on helping very important—you might say highly critical—staffers self-quarantine from the coronavirus. (And, by the way, there’s nothing wrong with Trump spelling it “Caronavirus” as he did in a tweet—at her age, even the wonderful Leslie Caron could be at risk.)
At a press conference on Wednesday, the president said, “We’re very, very ready for this,” and pointed out some of the “very good early decisions” he had made to prevent the spread of the virus. “Because of all we have done,” Mr. Trump said, “the risk to the American people remains very low.”
And then he showed just how commanding he is by handing the whole epidemic crisis over to Mike Pence, who is now the nation’s Corona Czar. The next day, as markets plunged, contagion was reported in more than 50 countries, and the World Health Organization warned of “pandemic potential” (things are so bad in Japan that even Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, on loan from London’s National Gallery, was quarantined), the vice president assured Fox News that the risk of the virus spreading to the United States was still low—entirely thanks to the “decisive action” of Donald Trump. Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.
We see it now. Obama over-reacted during the 2014 Ebola crisis when he funneled billions into creating an infrastructure to protect us from future pandemics. Trump wisely gutted that program and allocated money to build his “wall.” And didn’t he warn us about giving an Oscar for best picture to Parasite—a movie made in (cough, cough) South Korea?
Fight Fire with Liar
Speaking of science—isn’t it great that the Trump administration has found its anti-Greta? That’s what CPAC, that annual Bund rally for die-hard conservatives, calls its featured guest, Naomi Seibt, 19, a sweet young German YouTube influencer who says climate change is dandy and green activists like Greta Thunberg are spreading panic and disinformation. Naomi was one of many speakers at the CPAC convention in Washington this week who share Trump’s optimism about the planet—or at least how it influences the stock market.
In keeping with the Trump doctrine, this weekend’s issue also tries to look on the bright side. We have a story about the most scenic train routes in Europe, and a look at what happens when Google Translate gets ahold of foreign-press headlines featuring the Kardashians.
Isn’t it great that the Trump administration has found its anti-Greta, a sweet young German YouTube influencer who says climate change is dandy and green activists are spreading panic and disinformation?
We also have some powerful pieces, beginning with Part IV of Rich Cohen’s riveting deconstruction of the Dulos murder in Fairfield County; there is nothing redeeming about that tragedy, except that Rich goes so deeply and perceptively into what went wrong. And Stuart Heritage’s account of how the trashy, wildly popular British reality series Love Island ended with three suicides is a fascinating look at our culture.
There’s more: James Wolcott explains why it is so enjoyable to listen to Season Two of Fiasco, the podcast series created by Leon Neyfakh, the impresario of Slow Burn. As improbably twisted and damaging as Trump’s foreign policy may seem now, the Iran-Contra scandal, during the Reagan years, was also a doozy. And the nation survived.
Finally, Liesl Schillinger uncovers many glorious bits of history in her review of The Watergate Girl, a memoir by Jill Wine-Banks, one of the lawyers who investigated Nixon’s cover-up and was quickly dubbed “the miniskirted lawyer.” Who knew that, in 1974, Marvel Comics featured a crime-fighting superhero based on Wine-Banks in the Incredible Hulk series?
For these discoveries and more, read on.