I hold these truths to be self-evident:

  • People who refuse to wear face masks in busy indoor public spaces are stupid.
  • People who believe “no face mask!” is a political statement enhance their stupidity.
  • Retailers who decline to require even their employees to wear masks -- often out of a perverted notion of constitutional rights -- put customers at risk, undermine the health and welfare of the community, and that is stupid, too.

It’s an I-told-you-so moment for public health professionals who said months ago that the nation was in for a COVID-19 crisis of historic proportions unless radical steps were taken immediately. When national leadership failed -- when the superspreader-in-chief in the White House minimized the pandemic and dismissed epidemiological science -- the worst-case scenario played out. Signals from the highest levels of the federal government were mixed and revised almost daily by a president whose acquaintance with science probably is limited to the chemistry of hair spray and tanning makeup. (Remember his ignorant and reckless suggestion that Lysol or Clorox might be used to treat COVID?)

Except for a shrinking flock of Trumpanistas (did they try the Lysol?), the nation is fed up with the president’s malfeasance. Poll after poll finds up to two-thirds of Americans disapprove of his handling of the pandemic. Early on he said it would “just go away.” It has not. Later he insisted the states had “all the testing materials they needed.” They did not. The hardest hit states are scrambling to find enough tests and return results in a timely manner. He bragged that he would lead a successful campaign to blunt the pandemic. But when the situation soured, he blamed the governors, in particular governors who criticized the flaccid federal response.

The White House clown car sputters on, with the clown-in-chief driving in circles and honking the squeeze-horn while U.S. deaths from the pandemic escalate toward 200,000 -- a figure, by the way, that was predicted months ago by University of Minnesota epidemiologist Michael Osterholm and others. The prez and his minions -- including a few sycophant governors who now look like fools -- disregarded science-based warnings, instead pressing to “reopen our economy.” So, how’s that going in Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Utah and South Carolina?

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The latest from the ringmaster-in-chief? This week, he did a dizzying reversal on masks and on his months-long minimizing of the pandemic. Be assured, it’s a cynical political calculation, not a newfound concern for the nation’s health. Trump and his gaggle of bootlickers have been rattled by polls that show not only his sinking-like-a-stone job approval rating, but also that Democratic standard-bearer Joe Biden beats him by double digits nationwide and in states Trump won in 2016.

The tragedy is that the pandemic gave this faux president an opportunity to be a statesman, to bring the country together in common cause against the enemy virus, and he blew it. He opted for more divisive pandering when he could have embraced an inclusive strategy to encourage all Americans to fight the plague, not each other. Instead, the nation confronts the ridiculous situation -- aided and abetted by an incompetent and corrupt president -- of politicizing something as efficacious as wearing face masks in a pandemic. His image belongs on a $3 bill.