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Coronavirus shows up Trump's compassion deficit

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Vice President Mike Pence says he has not been tested for coronavirus and does not know if President Trump has been tested. Four members of Congress -- including one who recently shook President Donald Trump's hand and another who rode on Air Force One on Monday -- have announced that they would self-quarantine after coming into contact with an individual who was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus at CPAC.

Posted: Mar 10, 2020 8:50 AM
Updated: Mar 10, 2020 8:50 AM

White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham says that in this time of coronavirus it'll be business as usual for Donald Trump. He's not going to cancel any rallies or worry much at all about whether he's been exposed to infection, it seems. "And I'll tell you what," she says, "with our President, this man who doesn't sleep and who I have seen work 15, 16 hours a day every day, I have no problem thinking that he is going to be just fine and just healthy."

If Grisham had been concerned about the American public, she might not have talked about how attending big public events, working yourself to the bone, and skipping sleep is a reasonable response to the threat the virus poses to us all. In fact, if this is what Trump is doing, it's the opposite of what is recommended for an obese, largely sedentary man of 73.

With any other president, we'd all be wondering what got into an aide who strained so hard to suggest the boss is some sort of superman, but this is Trump we're talking about. The man's narcissism and propensity for rage are well documented and Grisham was obviously playing to both qualities.

Long a subject of press reports, Trump's anger has been evidenced as he has fired cabinet members, chiefs of staff -- Mick Mulvaney, who never even got the chance to shed the "acting" in front of the title was dismissed just last weekend -- and those who testified about him during his impeachment. Administration officials are generally worried about delivering bad news to the boss for fear of how he'll respond. When a CDC official recently noted, correctly, that a coronavirus outbreak was inevitable in the US, Politico reported that Trump got so angry officials discussed ordering her to stop making public statements. (They eventually decided against this.)

Having made the point that Trump isn't changing anything, Grisham stayed true to the President's why-worry attitude. When she went the further step, to explain that he's an extraordinary specimen who doesn't need sleep and can work rings around mere mortals she played to the vanity that is his other defining characteristic. As Grisham and other administration survivors seem to know (I'm looking at you, Vice President Mike Pence), you can never go wrong by putting the President at the center of every discussion and slathering him with praise.

For clues to how Trump wants to be described, just consider how he talks about himself. He is, in his own words, "really smart" and "a very stable genius." He is also, in his own words, "a great moral leader" and "great looking."

In the current crisis, the problem is not so much the President's overweening self-regard but his inability to recognize the needs of others. This problem, invariably a characteristic of the truly narcissistic, makes it difficult if not impossible for someone to put others first. In families, it can be evidenced by the parent who buys himself a new car when the rent is overdue. In countries, it is seen when a leader can't seem to see what people need in a moment of crisis.

Whether he's throwing paper towels into a crowd amid death and devastation in Puerto Rico or mocking victims of sexual assault, Trump has shown himself to be callous with enough regularity that he has taught us to cringe when we see him in a moment where concern for others is required. Remember how he joked about crowd sizes when he visited a hospital after a mass shooting in El Paso? How about the time, at the beginning of his term, when he stood at a memorial for fallen intelligence officers and bragged about his own intellect?

Compassion, which is the opposite of narcissism, is as essential to the presidency as any trait and presidents of both parties have shown it often. We all remember the moving responses from Bill Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing, George W. Bush after the attacks of 9/11 and Barack Obama after the Charleston church shooting. It is something we have relied on from our leaders. It is also the piece so often missing from Trump's response to difficult times. This is the man, who, a Huffington Post video showed, needed an emotional cheat sheet for a meeting with survivors of school shootings. That the prompts encouraged him to say, "I hear you," is all the evidence we need to know that the White House staff recognizes that the President struggles when it comes to compassion.

Why is Trump like this? When I wrote a biography of him I learned that he was raised by a role model father who showed his son little of the sort of tenderness that would produce concern for others in a child. His education was guided by a military school drill sergeant who was toughness personified, and his introduction to the adult world was shaped by the well-known character assassin Roy Cohn. Given these mentors, and all the insecurity that came with being a rich kid playing with daddy's money, Trump was all but destined to be the man we see today. He is angry and narcissistic, and the best those around him can do is coddle him in the hopes that he won't make things worse.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 39133

Reported Deaths: 1514
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12597787
Ramsey4963229
Dakota242192
Stearns241419
Anoka2266109
Nobles16726
Olmsted114715
Washington113740
Mower9602
Rice8488
Scott7624
Clay59138
Kandiyohi5781
Blue Earth4942
Wright4835
Todd4012
Carver3951
Lyon3272
Sherburne3255
Freeborn2970
Watonwan2380
Steele2371
Benton2203
St. Louis19615
Nicollet17312
Martin1715
Cottonwood1360
Goodhue1318
Winona12915
Crow Wing10812
Le Sueur1081
Pine1070
Chisago1021
Otter Tail1001
McLeod920
Dodge880
Carlton870
Unassigned8537
Polk822
Chippewa791
Isanti750
Waseca710
Douglas650
Murray650
Itasca6412
Meeker611
Morrison611
Faribault600
Pipestone592
Becker570
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington520
Renville362
Beltrami340
Brown342
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Wabasha330
Rock310
Fillmore300
Yellow Medicine300
Houston270
Swift221
Wilkin213
Norman200
Redwood190
Koochiching181
Grant170
Roseau170
Cass162
Aitkin150
Big Stone150
Kanabec151
Wadena150
Marshall120
Pope120
Lincoln100
Mahnomen101
Clearwater90
Hubbard80
Lake60
Stevens50
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Red Lake40
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 32064

Reported Deaths: 731
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6739181
Woodbury326044
Black Hawk232358
Buena Vista171911
Johnson13408
Linn130482
Dallas129129
Marshall106019
Scott84510
Story8063
Pottawattamie74512
Dubuque74222
Wapello70830
Crawford6783
Muscatine64944
Sioux4810
Tama46829
Wright3851
Louisa36313
Jasper32517
Plymouth3245
Warren2911
Dickinson2663
Webster2484
Washington2459
Cerro Gordo1901
Hamilton1891
Boone1501
Clay1370
Allamakee1334
Clarke1333
Mahaska11717
Shelby1170
Clinton1131
Poweshiek1078
Carroll991
Pocahontas981
Bremer957
Franklin950
Des Moines912
Emmet870
Henry863
Cedar851
Hardin810
Taylor800
Monona770
Cherokee761
Floyd732
Marion710
Benton681
Guthrie684
Jones640
Sac640
Jefferson620
Osceola620
Buchanan601
Butler592
Hancock551
Humboldt551
Calhoun542
Harrison540
Lee542
Iowa530
Delaware511
Monroe517
Fayette500
Madison482
Lyon450
Clayton443
Davis411
Mitchell410
Palo Alto410
Grundy400
Mills390
Winneshiek390
Kossuth360
Howard340
Jackson340
Union340
Lucas314
Chickasaw290
Greene290
Winnebago290
Cass240
Ida230
Appanoose213
Keokuk211
Van Buren210
Page200
Worth200
Adair160
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Ringgold150
Decatur120
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Adams80
Fremont80
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