Robert Ostergard By: Robert Ostergard
Associate Professor
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18 Jul 2020 : The Exhaustion of Covid-19: The Fireside Chat v. The Dumpster Fire

Crises are trying on everyone. Mentally stressful, physically exhausting, long-term crises wear you down and keep battering you like an ocean storm. 

Usually during a crises, people can take comfort in the fact that government tries to do the best it can; governmnet is straight forward and represents the best interest of its people. Think about Roosevelt and the fireside chats; the country is in crisis, but there seems to be a realization that people need to hear that their leader understood the problems of the depression and the war. Roosevelt's chats prevented panic, related to the plight of people, and instilled a sense of calm during a time when calm was in short supply.

Our current leadership seems to embody the exact opposite. Every day the media clamors around for another dumpster fire, which really is easy as the day's previous dumpster fire never truly goes out. It smolders, and smells, and spits smoke, waiting for some clown with a jar of kerosene to come by and to reignite the fire. 

The media in 2016 provided the Trump campaign with roughly $1 billion in free advertising every time they covered one of his obnoxious proto-klan gatherings. It was novel, it was entertainment because this circus barker would never go anywhere, so what was the harm? Now, the harm is clear; the circus barker is in control of the greatest crisis since the world wars and the bark has not changed since 2016. 

Blame others, yell at others, scream at others, and obfuscate. The country got what it wanted in 2016 and we are living with the consequences. This country has been through tough times and crises. What makes this one different is that it seems that the country's leader is actually working against those who are trying to pull the country out of the other side of the crisis. Never in the history of this country has a sitting president been so wontonly negligent. Watching him day after day just becomes an exercise that is exhausting. Lie after lie, day after day, the response to the virus from this administration should be thought of as the largest case of negligent homicides ths country has ever seen. The images are horrible and the scenes are more grim and gruesome than any slasher movie. Yet, this butcher cannot be stopped without an effort that starts at the top. 

We weathered George W. Bush and his bungling of the 9/11 response that got us tangled into two decades-long wars. His decisions were horrible, despite recent attempts to rehabilitate his image. Admittedly I would never have thought in my life that I would look back at George W. Bush's presidency as "the good ol' days." But that's where we are. The virus has taken nearly 150k lives in six months; Vietnam took 58K American lives over roughly 20 years; World War II took 400k American lives over six years. Viruses are not the same as war and the anaology is trite. But the death tolls are telling. 

Stupid is historical and timeless. We have faced pandemics and epidemics before. The anaology to the 1918 influenza pandemic is appropriate in this country. Indifferent and preoccupied leadership, uncoordinated policies, people claiming it was a hoax, people protesting masks and social distancing -- it's the same historical playbook. It just draws out what is happening. It makes you exhausted.

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