Return of the gambler as Trump faces his own Sophie’s Choice

Return of the gambler as Trump faces his own Sophie’s Choice, by Cameron Stewart.

In a world that is shutting up shop, Donald Trump is calling for America to reopen. …

“We have to go back to work, much sooner than people thought,” Trump said, adding that he “would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter”, just over two weeks away. “Our people are full of vim and vigour and energy. They don’t want to be locked into a house or an apartment or some space. It’s not for our country and we are not built that way.”

Trump’s comments caused jaws to drop in many parts of the US. …

Health professionals in the US were stunned by Trump’s comments, having argued that the only way to slow the spread of the virus was to practise social distancing, meaning you stay and work from home, avoid bars, restaurants and almost everyone outside immediate family.

Yes. And after that?

At the heart of the President’s argument is a truly grim “Sophie’s Choice” calculation that had not been openly spoken about until Trump raised it publicly — could it be that the terrible cost of closing the US economy, the world’s largest, to slow the spread of the virus is worse than the impact of the virus itself, as bad as that may be? …

Perhaps only a president as unconventional as Trump would dare utter such words, regardless of their merit, as Americans are becoming more frightened every day by the encroaching pandemic. But Trump is Trump and that is why his supporters love him and his detractors loathe him.

Trump’s probably right, though deliberately too early. That earliness is to re-frame the negotiation, to get people focused on how soon we can open up again. He won’t open up too soon, and not by Easter, but he wants you to focus on opening up again rather than just on locking down. He is leading.