When I talk to my friends and relatives all over the world, I find that every single country in which they live has a government that is dealing with the pandemic rationally and based on the best expert knowledge even though the strategies have differed in details during to the local context and the resources available. One common reaction is that they marvel at what an idiot Trump is and feel sorry for me that we have to live with someone as incompetent as him at the helm of combating a dangerous and difficult situation. That view of how the rest of the world views us is not purely anecdotal
Across Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, views of the US handling of the coronavirus crisis are uniformly negative and range from horror through derision to sympathy. Donald Trump’s musings from the White House briefing room, particularly his thoughts on injecting disinfectant, have drawn the attention of the planet.
“Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger,” the columnist Fintan O’Toole wrote in the Irish Times. “But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.”
The US has emerged as a global hotspot for the pandemic, a giant petri dish for the Sars-CoV-2 virus. As the death toll rises, Trump’s claims to global leadership have became more far-fetched. He told Republicans last week that he had had a round of phone calls with Angela Merkel, Shinzo Abe and other unnamed world leaders and insisted “so many of them, almost all of them, I would say all of them” believe the US is leading the way.
None of the leaders he mentioned has said anything to suggest that was true.
A poll in France last week found Merkel to be far and away the most trusted world leader. Just 2% had confidence Trump was leading the world in the right direction. Only Boris Johnson and Xi Jinping inspired less faith.
Dacian Cioloș, a former prime minister of Romania who now leads the Renew Europe group in the European parliament, captured a general European view this week as the latest statistics on deaths in the US were reported.
“Post-truth communication techniques used by rightwing populism movements simply do not work to beat Covid-19,” he told the Guardian. “And we see that populism cost lives.”
Trump’s decision not to take part in a global effort to find a vaccine, and his abrupt severance of financial support to the WHO at the height of the pandemic, added outrage and prompted complaints that the US was surrendering its role of global leadership.
There is a palpable sense of relief among Chinese state commentators that the US president’s antics have diverted some of the anger that would otherwise have been aimed at Beijing.
“Only by making Americans hate China can they make sure that the public might overlook the fact that Trump’s team is stained with the blood of Americans,” said an English-language Global Times editorial late last month.
Its editor, Hu Xijin, tweeted: “US system used to be appealing to many Chinese people. But through the pandemic, Chinese saw US government’s incompetence in outbreak control, disregard for life and its overt lies. Washington’s political halo has little left.”
Even the highly regarded British medical journal The Lancet has come out with an editorial calling on Americans to vote out Trump in November as the first step to rebuilding its scientific credibility and restoring faith in the CDC that Trump has so dangerously undermined.
But Trump seems to think that simply lying will keep reality at bay. Note how in a single sentence (“so many of them, almost all of them, I would say all of them”) he goes from exaggeration to superlative in real time since in his own mind he desperately needs to persuade himself that he is the best. The sad fact is that he likely believes his own lies.
He is indeed pitiful and he is dragging the country down with him.
Not at all surprised to see Johnson seen in a worse light than Trump.
Here in Canada, our federal politicians are walking on eggs when it comes to Trump. They obviously are appalled at how this crisis is handled (or rather not handled) but they cannot come out and say anything too negative in fear of how Trump will react. So much of our supply of food and other essential goods is dependent on the US that we’d be screwed if Trump decided to close the border (some states would also suffer but I doubt that he would care).
At the moment the border is closed except for essential travels and for goods in both directions but this agreement comes to an end soon and the government is negotiating to prolong this for another month. No one here wants to have US tourists under the current circumstances and I don’t see when it will be safe to change that.
And he’s going to cause more bloodshed when the election comes. There’s no way he’ll go quietly. He’ll openly incite his followers to armed civil unrest, people will be killed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the military has to be called out to quell the violence. That’s if he doesn’t start a nuclear war as a distraction.
When he’s voted out is when he’ll be the most dangerous. Seizing power, overthrowing the rule of law (I mean, more than he is now), and armed conflict.
And who’s to say he’s wrong? It seems to have worked *for him* so far.
John Morales says
xohjoh2n, for sure. Never have I seen a happier, less stressed-out person. 😉
Who Cares says
People did not believe me and then when I showed them the evidence almost fell of whatever they were sitting on.
What did I show them? That the removal of lockdown measures in the US, at at least the federal level, would be dictated by the council of economic affairs and not the medical community.
Almost universally the next reaction was feeling sorry for the people living in the US.
Note how in a single sentence (“so many of them, almost all of them, I would say all of them”) he goes from exaggeration to superlative in real time since in his own mind he desperately needs to persuade himself that he is the best.
This is pure Jon Lovitz as Tommy Flanagan.
But on the other hand, he is rich, not in prison, and is still president.
“I find that every single country …..”
Really? Let’s do a few small calculations.
Netherlands: 17 million people.
USA: 327 million people.
Netherlands: 44 000 infected people. Ratio 2,6.
USA: 1 443 000 infected people. Ratio 4,4.
OK, you win. But look at this:
Netherlands: 5 600 deadly victims. Ratio 329.
USA: 88 000 deadly victims. Ratio: 269.
Actually the Netherlands have about 9 000 deadly victims; official (by CBS) estimation is that 3 400 deaths should be contributed to COVID-19 too -- those people weren’t tested at all. That would be a Dutch ratio of 529 -- twice as high as in the USA.
Donald the Clown may be incompetent, few head of states were as lacklustre as Mark Rutte (Bolsonaro from Brazil trying hard; Putin from Russia doesn’t do well either). Just compare: neighbour Germany has a death ratio of 100.
Oh -- Rutte’s popularity these days is sky high. His party, the conservative VVD, would get almost 30% of the votes according to polls. Donald the Clown may be pathetic, the charlatan Rutte certainly is not.
When I talk to my friends and relatives all over the world I find that not a single one has even a shred of pity for the US. And that is only partly down to Trump.
The full sentence begins “When I talk to my friends and relatives all over the world,” and then the bit you quoted.
I have pity for USians, unless they voted for Trump.
John Morales says
But perhaps he also worries that it’s more that while he is still President, he’s rich and not in prison.
mnb0, @ #9: You need to consider the possibility that the US is likely to be under-counting deaths at least as badly as the Netherlands.
Andreas Avester says
Personally, I feel sorry about American doctors and nurses, essential workers who must risk their lives, poor people who suffer because their income and health insurance are gone. I also feel sorry about American citizens who didn’t do anything to worsen the pandemic, who are victims of the terrible circumstances around them.
I do not feel sorry about the MAGA crowd who supported Trump’s poor decisions, or all those protesters who intentionally go out and try to spread the virus. A part of American citizens caused their terrible situation. I do not look at the USA as a whole with pity.
@11 Holms: friend would be in my case a big word indeed, but I’ve been around on this blog for many years now.
@13 Dunc: sure, but I suppose my point is clear: Donald the Clown is not the only one doing a terrible job. There is some fierce competition in this respect.