Uncle John and Coronavirus

Posted on March 12, 2020


A great asset that Donald Trump has, and one that he hasn’t been given enough credit for, has been his own creation of his Uncle John. Trump could have chosen anyone to be his uncle. He had the money, the fame, the hutzpah, the hair and an uncanny ability to create an entirely new language based loosely on English but understood only by his devoted followers.

Having created Uncle John, Trump could then pull him out at critical moments. Before we review a couple of these, let us get to know the real Uncle John, not the Superhero version residing in Trump’s bag o’ Tricks.

Uncle John, a physicist at MIT, was the real deal. Brilliant, hard-working, highly accomplished and humble. It was said of him that “He was remarkably even-tempered, with kindness and consideration to all, never threatening or arrogant in manner, even when under high stress. He was outwardly and in appearance the mildest of men, with a convincing persuasiveness, carefully marshalling all his facts.” and “He cared very little for money and the trappings of money.”

So, how exactly, did this true scientific icon affect his beloved nephew? In countless ways, it appears.

Nuclear Proliferation: When meeting with Kim Jung Un over the denuclearization of North Korea, Trump cited his bona fides:  “I used to discuss nuclear (sic) with him (Uncle John) all the time. He was a great expert, he was a great brilliant genius.”

One can only imagine the “nuclear” discussions held between uncle and nephew:

Uncle John: Experts weigh both technical and political factors in their calculation of strategic stability. They especially worry about instability caused by technical lagging. To reduce the danger of nuclear war, analysts favor the maintenance of an effective firebreak between nuclear weapons and conventional conflict.

Nephew Donald: I will call Kim Jung Il “Rocketman.” I think that should do the trick.

Climate change: “My Uncle John was a great professor at MIT for many years,” he assured his interviewer, “I have a natural instinct for science.

Uncle John:  The actual emissions from countries around the world have far exceeded even the worst-case scenario models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Understanding the physics behind climate change is critical to establishing well formulated policies for emissions mitigation and reduction. This is all really simple physics, but it’s at the heart of this issue.

Nephew Donald: Right. Well, it does seem to be a big Democrat hoax filled with Never Trumpers and people who live on tree bark.

Coronavirus: Confronted with the fact of the Coronavirus, Trump did what he does best: He tried to bully it into submission. He dismissed it, called it a Democratic plot, declared it fake, and announced that, because he had an uncle who taught at Stanford, he (the president) must have been gifted an extraordinary set of medical skills that allowed him to be the ultimate authority about the virus.

In that same news conference, he bleated, “Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this? …” While explaining he had watched the network’s Coronavirus coverage (a much more efficient way of accumulating medical information than spending a lot of years and money going to med school), he claimed he had such a good handle on the Coronavirus that, instead of running for president, he could have been a ‘supergenius’ like his uncle, John Trump, who was a professor at M.I.T.”

The virus, like just about any other virus on the planet, didn’t have a constituency or plan to run for re-election. It didn’t worry about raising money. It knew nothing about Twitter. It paid no attention to polls. It didn’t change its behavior if anyone mocked it or gave it a derogatory nickname. It didn’t have a job that depended on someone hiring it or paying for its services. It wasn’t impressed on how much power or money anyone had. It just sort of went about its daily business, seeking our likely hosts. Through a virus’ eyeballs, every human had a big, fat “Open for Lunch” sign on it.

From a virus’ vantage point, Trump was just another big, fat “Open for Lunch” sign. Yesterday, Trump sort of got the message. Or, at least got it enough to have someone else write a speech for him and then deliver it from a telepromptor.

He spoke and the country listened. We were told that we were saving ourselves from Coronavirus by having a best-in-the-world economy, washing your hands, giving folks a tax break, and preventing anyone from Europe coming here. LBL listened intently but didn’t hear anything about Coronavirus test kits so we could actually identify the people who should be quarantined and/or get medical services. Maybe she just wasn’t paying attention

She decided to ask both the virus and Uncle John their thoughts. Neither could be reached for comment.