Are You Better off Today Than at the Dumbest Time in Recent Memory?

Trump Administration Donald Trump
Are You Better off Today Than at the Dumbest Time in Recent Memory?

However dumb you think it was, it was dumber. 

Former President Trump launched a thousand memes by asking recently if people are better off today than they were four years ago, apparently forgetting the bodies in trucks and millions of lost jobs and so on. The response has generally been a focus on the pandemic and its economic fallout, and rightly so, but it is worth remembering that while the horse paste of it all may have felt like a culmination of the administration’s very dumb anti-science stance, it was far from its beginning.

To start with, the people Trump chose to run agencies tasked with scientific endeavors were about as far from experts as can be imagined. Before taking over the Department of Energy, Rick Perry both wanted to abolish it entirely and also believed the Energy Secretary’s role was as “a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry.” Scott Pruitt’s whole deal was about eliminating the sort of government regulation the Environmental Protection Agency engages in, and he continued to deny the link between carbon dioxide and climate change while in office there.

From there things got worse. The Union of Concerned Scientists documented hundreds of what they termed “attacks on science,” from censoring scientists to rolling back regulations. They stopped a study on the health effects of mountaintop removal mining and disbanded a committee on particulate air pollution. They let asbestos make a comeback.

And when Trump himself bothered to weigh in on anything science-related, the results were absurd. He insisted raking leaves would stop a burgeoning wildfire crisis. Asked about climate change he said “There is a cooling, and there’s a heating.” He used a sharpie on that hurricane track image justify his insistence it would hit Alabama. I remain convinced that he thinks “clean coal” means it is somehow cleaner when it comes out of the ground.

And then, yes, the pandemic. The administration’s handling of the crisis has been well picked-over, but it was still probably dumber than you remember.

In February 2020: “One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

On using disinfectant as medicine: “[I]s there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning?”

The night before the U.S. hit 200,000 dead: “It affects virtually nobody.”

As with anything Trump says, when he asks if people are better off today than four years ago, he’s really only talking about himself. While the pandemic may have been raging and his administration’s assault on science was proving to be a disaster in multiple ways, the half-billion dollars in judgments against him and the 91 criminal charges were barely a twinkle in his eye back then.

Who wouldn’t prefer the good old days?

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