So hey, summer’s coming. Time for all Americans to get together and plan how to stay apart.
And here’s a seasonal question: When we get to Labor Day, who do you think will get the award for Worst Political Person of the Summer?
Well, yeah, I knew you’d say him. So negative about our president — just because he doesn’t understand science and recently accused one critic in the media of murder.
But Donald Trump can’t do everything awful by himself. How about backup nominees? There’s Mitch McConnell, of course. And Mike Pompeo, who was slogging through a disastrous year even before Tom Friedman suggested he was the worst secretary of state in all of American history.
Among the many Pompeo messes, the most memorable are the allegations that he used a government employee for personal services that included dog-walking and picking up the dry cleaning. Hardly the most significant, but an excellent reminder that this administration has perhaps set a record for cabinet members prone to dumb disasters. Remember the E.P.A. head who sent his aide shopping for a mattress at the Trump hotel?
I want to put a word in here for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who is often unfairly overlooked when it comes to counting terrible people in the current government. This is because of her general ineptitude, and you should thank God every day this woman doesn’t know how to get things done.
DeVos has focused her career on attempts to direct government money to private schools — particularly, it seems, bad private schools. Remember when she reformed the whole system in Michigan by making everything worse? Right now, she’s battling nefarious attempts to target coronavirus relief funds to the districts that actually need the money most.
So many possible Worsts. There’s Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex (yes, he’s still here) Azar. We’ve been so busy watching Azar fail to deal with the coronavirus crisis that we totally lost track of the fact that he never did do anything about prescription drug prices.
There’s Ron DeSantis of Florida, who keeps claiming a Worst Governor award for his out-of-control policy on beach access. We suspected something like this was coming when he declared professional wrestling was an essential state industry.
But it’s sort of hard to focus on the supporting cast when the big boss has been so off-the-wall. Do you think Trump’s refusal to wear a mask is an attempt to woo the political right, or deny the reality of our current health crisis? Or just a sign he doesn’t think it’s attractive?
I’d go for the most superficial explanation. The president always prioritizes the way things look, even though he personally winds up making the worst possible choices in everything from tanning makeup to leisure wear. And obviously none of his friends have hinted that those golfing photos aren’t all that flattering.
What about Joe Biden? He hasn’t been the worst at much — some Democrats would be happy to see him do anything that aggressive. But he did come up with what may turn out to be the Worst Political Nickname of the Summer, when he announced he’d refer to Donald Trump as “President Tweety.”
Does that sound like a good plan to you? When I think of “Tweety” I think about that yellow canary in old cartoons who kept saying “I tawt I taw a puddy tat.” Not exactly flattering, but a lot less damaging than, say, President Pandemic.
Meanwhile, Trump keeps calling Biden “Sleepy Joe.” Now this is the election that’s going to have you awash in rage and terror for the next five months. But if you think of it as Sleepy Joe versus a canary it sounds pretty darned relaxing.
When all else fails, Republicans just claim Biden is best friends with China. Waiting for news on the spaceship launch, the Republican National Committee did manage to send out an attack on Biden for wanting to work with what it called “the United States’ greatest space adversary, China.”
Trump’s new press secretary, Kayleigh (“I will never lie to you”) McEnany, claimed the administration now has a “relationship of disappointment and frustration” with China that’s “put American lives at risk.” She’s only been on the job a few weeks, but she’s definitely a potential contender in Worst contests of the future. The other day she volunteered that Trump was possibly “the best president this country will ever have.”
Just a quick break here. Do you think historians will rate Donald Trump as better than Abraham Lincoln? Certainly Trump does. He’s always suggesting that. (“You know, a poll just came out that I am the most popular person in the history of the Republican Party. … I beat our Honest Abe.”)
Of course, in the real world he’s way closer to the race for the bottom and he’s edging out some tough competition. There was Warren Harding, but Harding was pretty good on social issues like race. Richard Nixon knew a lot about foreign affairs. Franklin Pierce failed to head off the Civil War, but he definitely would have looked better on a golf course.
The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: [email protected].
Source: NY times