When Trump ran for president in 2016, he touted the fact that he was a businessman and that this background would enable him to run the government more efficiently. The idea that being a businessman is good training for running a government is a dubious proposition at best because there are major differences between the two. With a business, you have to appease just the stockholders if it is a public company or nobody at all if you own a private company. But with government you have to deal with a huge number of different constituencies that have independent sources of power and are not beholden to you and finding ways to get things done takes a different skill set.
But even that assumes that you were a good businessman to begin with. What the Trump experience has shown is that electing a rotten businessman like him as president is a terrible idea. Trump started by getting a huge amount of money from his father to start off his life in business and then had one bankruptcy after another. The skills that he has lie in being a bullshit artist, brazen liar, and grifter, constantly finding ways to wheedle money out of others. This means that he places great value in breezily claiming that everything is fine when they are not, and the latest revelations in Bob Woodward’s book Rage that he knew the coronavirus was very dangerous but publicly pretended that it was not is consistent with the attitude of someone whose experience is with situations in which his business is in dire straits but presents a false picture to creditors in order to buy time and hope that some miracle will occur that will stave off collapse.
Trump’s excuse now of lying because he did not want to induce panic is absurd because he has been trying his best to induce fear and panic over many other things, such as a takeover by antifa and that only he can prevent black people from moving into white neighborhoods. He has even started to hold rallies with people close together not wearing masks even after it was revealed that he knows the danger of airborne transmission.
There have been plenty of justified criticisms of Woodward for not revealing Trump’s lies until now, even though Trump admitted them to him in interviews as far back as February 7. Revealing the deception then might have helped to invigorate more measures to combat the pandemic that has since claimed nearly 200,000 lives. Woodward claims disingenuously that he held back the information because “he needed to provide more complete context” but it seems more plausible that a courtier like Woodward, although he claims to be a journalist and thus had an ethical obligation to reveal important information in a timely manner, just wanted to increase sales of his book by holding back key facts. Woodward’s delay also enables Trump to claim that Woodward not revealing his lies until now shows that the lies were not that important, as if Woodward is the ultimate authority on this question.
Fox News personality Tucker Carlson wondered why Trump agreed to the interviews at all, a sign of how damaging they are seen by white nationalist supporters of Trump like him. Carlson focuses his ire on South Carolina senator, the grovelingly obsequious Lindsey Graham, for persuading Trump that it would be a good idea to do the interviews. Trump had not given Woodward interviews when he was writing his earlier book Fear and had been unhappy with the way he was portrayed in that. Apparently Graham had suggested that giving these interviews would enable Trump to present his side of the story. That strategy only works if you have someone who is disciplined in what they say, which Trump manifestly is not. His skills are race-baiting, fear-mongering, and bullshitting, not playing intellectual and verbal chess. Get him to talk for any length of time and his vanity and ego will trip him up.