Opinion | Standard metrics will not suffice. Here’s how to measure Trump’s failures so that they register with the right.
Sure, 29 million Americans are calling for unemployment; at least 183,000 died of the coronavirus; and some 20 percent small businesses that existed before the pandemic are closed. But whatever the statistics, whatever quotes from government agencies or private analysts, Trump supporters refuse to accept that this president’s legacy can be missed in any way. Especially compared to its predecessor!
It seemed that any suggestion that Trump’s numbers are unusually bad, no matter how well documented, were doomed to be viewed as fake news. Then it hit me:
Maybe what’s needed is different units to measure the Trump administration’s failures and scandals, since standard measurements are not recorded. His toll should be quantified on scales a Fox News viewer might be more familiar with: not body count or dollars, but Benghazis and Solyndras.
For example, experts sometimes try to put the 183,000 deaths from covid-19 into context by noting that cumulative deaths per capita in the United States are double those of Canada, quintuple those of Germany, 20 times those of Australia, 90 times those of South Korea, etc.
But let’s face it: a lot of Americans don’t care about international comparisons. So here’s a different way to contextualize this national trauma: The number of lives lost to covid-19 is roughly equal to the death toll from 60 9/11 attacks.
Or, if you prefer a more recent macabre reference to quantify mortality, the coronavirus the death toll is around 46,000 Benghazis. Somehow, for years the four tragic deaths in Benghazi consumed the agendas of six GOP-controlled congressional committees and the programming of the most-watched cable news channel. But today, a deadly shock amplified by the ineptitude of the government which has led to 46,000 times more lives lost ”.it is what it is. “
Likewise, perhaps we could put recent changes in jobs into perspective using benchmarks widely discussed and endorsed by Trump.
For example, shortly after winning the presidency in 2016, Trump congratulated himself on saving about 700 jobs at a factory in Indiana run by Carrier. This feat received a plethora of right-wing media adoration and is still cited by cronies as proof of the president’s economic prowess.
Only last week, however, 1.6 million people newly applied for unemployment benefits. This is the equivalent of 2,300 Carrier factories.
Then there is the alleged misappropriation of taxpayer funds to “pick winners and losers,” a right-wing media sin often attributed to Democrats (especially Barack Obama). There are many from the Trump era examples at choose from – grants for coal-fired power stations, say, where Farmers hurt by Trump’s own trade wars. But let’s use as a case study the case of a single White House official, Peter Navarro, in failed contracts related to the pandemic response.
According to congressional investigatorsNavarro negotiated a contract that caused the government to overpay fans by $ 500 million. (The contract was canceled on Monday.) He also defended a $ 765 million federal loan to Eastman Kodak to turn it into a drug maker. (The loan has since unraveled and is subject to a securities investigation.)
So how much of Navarro’s taxpayer dollars wasted on these two transactions alone? Measured in units that should be familiar to right-wing information consumers, that’s roughly two Solyndras.
Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the national debt will reach about $ 22 trillion in the next fiscal year. This means that, for the first time since right after World War II, debt would eclipse the size of the U.S. economy as a whole. For all those fair-weather tax hawks who have long complained about Obama’s debauchery: The increase in debt under Trump during a single term is on track to surpass that under Obama through of them terms.
Likewise: for every Hillary Clinton private messaging scandal (one), there is at least eight senior Trump officials who allegedly used private emails to conduct official business. For every Obama-era incident involving reprisals against political opponents, there are literally dozens of examples of Trump trying to use the power of his office to punish suspected enemies, whether through tweets or regulatory Actions. Including, this week, a possibly illegal order to block federal funding to go to towns ruled by Democrats.
Die-hard Trump followers have long been fans of alternative math, so maybe this mental exercise could come in handy. Or maybe they’ll finally admit that any scale of crisis, failure, or scandal is okay as long as their man is in office.