On Monday, the United States passed the grim milestone of 100,000 lives lost from ravages of coronavirus. While no death — perhaps save passing from old age —is usually thought of as pleasant, death from coronavirus is particularly heart-wrenching and cruel.
The physical body is subject to horrific trauma and discomfort from the disease itself while the victim’s final moments are tragically spent alone in a hospital bed, robbed of not just the love of their families but basic human contact, as precautionary distancing prevents even the overworked hospital staff from being by their side.
But judging from President Donald Trump’s response to the entire crisis, one might think that we were dealing with an overly rambunctious bout of the flu. Abandoning all responsibility and unwilling to show the slightest pretense of leadership, the 100,000 death mark was ignored by President Trump for an entire day before being addressed on Tuesday morning in the same way that he brags about Apprentice ratings: through an insincere and unremarkable tweet.
We have just reached a very sad milestone with the coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000. To all of the families & friends of those who have passed, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy & love for everything that these great people stood for & represent. God be with you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2020
This tweet followed on the heels of a tweet about “FAIRNESS ON SOCIAL MEDIA” and the retweet of a random supporter explaining how the Mueller investigation was a “COUP PLOT.”
In fact, he retweeted 23 other things this morning, most of them about the “Obamagate” conspiracy that he is desperately trying to take mainstream, before one of his aides pointed out that he should probably address the fact that 100,000 of the people he was elected to take care of have died a gruesome death from a disease that his negligence allowed to spread.
It’s clear that since his handlers have elected to end the daily press conferences and thus the ego-boosting ratings that accompanied them, Trump has lost what little interest he ever had in the coronavirus crisis and wants to focus on more important things, like his bizarre feud with MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and seeking revenge against the dastardly federal agents who worked to expose his campaign’s disturbing ties to Russia.
The insincerity and inappropriateness of his response to the 100,000 death milestone is made immediately obvious when it is placed in comparison to the statement issued by his presumptive 2020 challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden chose to directly address the nation through a video message, the emotional weight of his words evident on his face and in his voice.
“There are moments in our history so grim, so heart-rending, that they’re forever fixed in each of our hearts as shared grief. Today is one of those moments. I think I know what you’re feeling. You feel like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest. It’s suffocating, your heart is breaking and there’s nothing but a feeling of emptiness right now.
“I know there’s nothing I or anyone else can do to dull the sharpness of the pain you feel right now, but I can promise you from experience, the day will come when the memory of your loved one will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes.”
There are moments in our history so grim, so heart-rending, that they're forever fixed in each of our hearts as shared grief. Today is one of those moments. 100,000 lives have now been lost to this virus.
To those hurting, I'm so sorry for your loss. The nation grieves with you. pic.twitter.com/SBBRKV4mPZ
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 27, 2020
The question facing this nation in November is simple. Do we want a leader who can empathize with the people in a time of crisis, or do we want one whose response to a staggering death toll is “oops, that sucks, sorry America!” in between retweets from QAnon zealots about Michael Flynn?
From beginning to end, the coronavirus crisis has shown us that Donald Trump is willing to let thousands of people die to protect his own political ambitions and not even have the grace to pretend to grieve. Nothing America will ever do is as important as making sure he is never allowed to hold office again— and holding him accountable for each and every one of those lonely, painful and preventable deaths that his negligence and mismanagement is responsible for.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.