Anthropology all the way down: Don't get us wrong! Although we've long recommended pity, we regard Donald J. Trump as being badly disordered.
In that sense, we basically regard Trump as the worst.
With that point established, please consider the very first thing we read today at Slate. It follows a fully predictable theme:
We have the most covid deaths in the world! That proves that Trump is the worst:
HANNON (5/20/20): The U.S. has far and away the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, topping 1.5 million infections, more than the next six largest country outbreaks combined. That is, of course, a bad thing. As a result, the U.S. also leads the world in coronavirus deaths with more than 90,000. No matter where the virus originated or how it first hopscotched across the planet, topping the charts in confirmed cases months later represents a failure of national leadership to protect Americans. Even worse, it’s emblematic of an incoherent federal response that failed to equip Americans with the tools and information to protect themselves. But there’s no number Donald Trump can’t invert, no truth he can’t unwind and repurpose...So it goes, again and again, and then again and again.
The United States leads the world in deaths, proving what a failure Trump is! This is the basic tribal messaging with which we liberals now get relentlessly pleasured.
That said, does the United States lead the world in coronavirus deaths? Only because we have a much larger population than other affected nations!
With that in mind, if our number of deaths represents a giant failure of leadership, just think how bad the failures must be in these other lands:
Coronavirus deaths per million population, as of May 20:Some of those numbers have risen since this morning, when we published similar data. But the statistically illiterate tribal messaging just keeps rolling along!
United Kingdom: 526
The Netherlands: 336
United States: 285
If our number of covid deaths represents a failure of leadership, just think how bad the failure has been in such nations at Belgium, Spain, Italy, France!
That said, in the current tribal environment, our tribal sachems won't mention such countries. They want to please us by suggesting that nothing could ever be worse than whatever it is Trump has done.
People who tabulate deaths in this way aren't in their right mind, Kevin Drum has said. Still, we liberals will be pleasured this way again and again and again.
This is an anthropology lesson. We humans, rational animals all, are wired to function like this.
Concerning the larger point: Concerning the larger point in Elliot Hannon's post, there's a basic element of truth to this ridiculous thing Trump said.
If we had conducted fewer tests, we would have recorded fewer covid cases. We wouldn't actually have fewer cases, but our reported number would be lower.
Given the way such matters are tabulated, we might even have a lower number of reported deaths. This would make our situation look better on international tabulations, though our actual situation might be exactly the same.
As with everything he discusses, Trump turned this into a wholly ridiculous circus act. Our own sachems do something similar when they wipe countries like France off the map to swear that our situation is worst.
We humans were wired to function this way. As history has proven again and again, we're built like this all the way down.