Trump and “Taking Responsibility”

Trump has been taking responsibility for the surging economy he inherited, but when it comes to the coronavirus he “takes no responsibility.”  Here is a taste of Jonathan Chait’s  piece, just published at New York Magazine:

Trump attempted to blame the government’s failure to deploy tests on the Obama administration, which has departed more than three years ago. The shirking of responsibility is self-evidently absurd: if Obama’s supposed red tape had prevented the Centers for Disease Control from handling the coronavirus, why didn’t Trump cut through it weeks ago, when the virus first alarmed health officials?

A reporter asked the president if he took responsibility for the failure of the government he leads to resolve this sooner. “No,” he replied, “I don’t take responsibility at all”.

Another reporter asked if he took responsibility for dissolving the White House office charged with coordinating responses to pandemics. (Beth Cameron, its former director, has an op-ed explaining how damaging this move was.) Trump denied any responsibility for this decision, too. “You say me, I didn’t do it … I don’t know about that,” he huffed, calling the query a “nasty question,” and cutting off the reporter’s microphone.

Harry Truman once said, “The buck stops here.” It is the most hackneyed cliche about the presidency, and leadership in general. Trump has never had to follow this principle, in a career that ran from inheriting $400 million from his father through various bankruptcies. Trump instead follows the ethos of a different famous leader — Tony Soprano, who once said, “Shit runs down hill, money goes up.”

Trump’s most historically bizarre belief is that he can not only claim credit for every good thing that happens under his watch — primarily the continuation of the recovery he inherited — while shirking responsibility for all the bad onto others. The longer he holds office, the the ratio of the former to the latter continues to shrink. He is likely to discover that pretending to be a real president is not enough.

Read the entire piece here.