Donald Trump could’ve been one of the great Presidents. Saying that, I’ve angered 70% of you. Some because I implied that he isn’t. Others because I considered the possibility. However, I thought about this during his Press Conference today. It was on President Trump’s response to COVID-19.
In it, he talked about his decision to suspend travel from China. Nobody else would have done it as quickly as he did. I happen to agree with him on that. Your average President would have floated it. Then, they would focus group a response. Finally, once on reasonably safe ground, they would act. This process takes about 2 weeks.
We learned why they would be cautious in the presser. President Trump pointed out that he was unfairly maligned for his decision. He’s right. He was accused of making the decision on racial grounds. I’m sure he knew that was coming. However, he didn’t hesitate. He acted promptly and decisively. He deserves credit for that.
However, in the same press conference we see what holds the President back from greatness. First, his arrogance. Secondly, his status as a counter-puncher. More accurately, he’s reactionary. These two features hold him back from greatness. I’ll explain.
Where President Trump’s response to COVID-19 went wrong.
“Some of the people we’ve cut, they haven’t been used for many, many years and if we ever need them we can get them very quickly and rather then spending the money,”President Trump
This is the equivalent of not paying your homeowners insurance because you haven’t used it in some time, and you can always call the fire department. But wouldn’t someone point out the absurdity of this logic. Alas, they did. President Trump, however, doesn’t take criticism well. He’s arrogant and a counter-puncher. His instinct is to fight back.
Where President Trump’s response to COVID-19 went well.
The President’s rapid response shows his potential. His personal flaws show why it wasn’t reached. Remember how I said it would take an average President 2 weeks to get the travel ban up? Trump did it in days. By February 1st, it was in place. However, consider this.
On January 7, officials announced they had identified a new virus, according to the WHO. The novel virus was named 2019-nCoV and was identified as belonging to the coronavirus family, which includes SARS and the common cold.Al Jazeera
President Trump said he ordered the shutdown as soon as he heard about the virus “on the news”. Imagine if he would have had a pandemic team coordinating with the WHO. If an average President took 2 weeks, the travel ban would’ve been implemented on or around the 21st. Days before Trump saw it on the news. However, if President Trump had learned of it then and reacted as he did later, the ban could’ve been in place as early as the 10th.
President Trump’s biggest problem.
A counter-puncher waits for the strike, and reacts. President Trump needed to be out in front on this one. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. However, his biggest problem is his ego. Roughly 2,000 years ago, Epictetus said the following.
“It is impossible for a person to learn what he thinks he already knows.”Epictetus
In the book ‘The Daily Stoic‘, the author elaborates on this quote.
“Ego and self deception are the enemies of the things we wish to have, because we delude ourselves into believing we already have them.”
The reason why President Trump can’t be a great President is because he’s convinced that he already is one. His quick and decisive actions undoubtedly saved lives. However, his failure to recognize the need for active participation from the scientific community undoubtedly cost many more than he can save. His ego leads him to deceive himself into believing that he alone can do it. Furthermore, it is impossible for him to learn that he is wrong. Why? Because he already knows otherwise.