An Open Letter to Donald Trump: For Once in Your Life, Do the Right Thing

Dear Mr. President:

For once in your life, do the right thing. No, I do not mean resign, although that would be the right thing to do. A lot of other people already have urged you to do that, and my request is more modest.

I ask only that you deliver another address to the nation on the COVID-19 pandemic while seated behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office. Just you alone in the office, except of course for your teleprompter.

Do not make it like your address on March 11th. This time get it right.

Do it soon. There is not a moment to lose. Some experts warn that infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 already is so prevalent in the United States that efforts to prevent the disease from spreading further by testing and isolating carriers will be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible.

Your address to the nation should be short and to the point. I even have prepared a rough draft for your consideration.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States . . .

“My fellow Americans, we are at a turning point in the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged our country and resulted in the tragic death of too many of our loved ones. The pandemic is raging out of control, and we must take action to bring it under control before it is too late, and before more lives are needlessly lost. This is a true national crisis.

I am calling on all governors to immediately require the wearing of masks or other face coverings and to enforce social distancing in their states. And I am calling on all citizens to wear masks and heed social distancing requirements even if not required by law. These measures to prevent transmission of the virus do work, and they are our last best hope of avoiding a national disaster of unimaginable proportions.

Wearing a mask is not a sign of weakness, a form of political expression, nor an infringement on your liberties. It is act of patriotism, and of basic humanity. I am calling on you to wear a mask as a call to service on behalf of our great country and on behalf of your friends and family members who are especially vulnerable to this horrible disease.

Wearing a mask is your duty as an American as we confront the invisible enemy that threatens us. Together, we can defeat that enemy. But if remain divided on wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, the enemy will defeat us.”

Okay, I am not Quentin Tarantino, but I also have a stagecraft suggestion: Have the camera show you wearing a mask when the address goes live, take it off to speak, and then put it back on when you finish your address, while you are still on camera. (They can put a reminder about the mask on the teleprompter in case you forget to put it back on, which seems likely.)

I was going to work the exhortation by Jesus to “love thy neighbor as thyself” into the address because it so perfectly describes the moral imperative to wear a mask. Including it would please the Evangelical Christians who form part of your base, many of whom have resisted wearing masks. It dawned on me, however, that the words of Jesus coming out of your mouth might strain credibility beyond the breaking point, not to mention cause lightning to strike the White House.

I cannot assure you that the address will help you politically. The nut jobs on the right will see it as a sell-out, and almost everyone else will see it as too little, too late. And everyone else would be right. You would not be giving the address for political advantage. Yes, I know that makes my request sound preposterous to you.

But look at it this way: At least I am not asking you to resign, or even to reconsider your overall abdication of federal responsibility for managing the pandemic. An address to the nation urging masking and social distancing seems like such a modest proposal.

Modest, but futile

Insulting you probably is not the best way to persuade you. Therefore, I would have eliminated the cheap shots from this letter if I thought, even on the off chance that you read it, that there was any possibility that you would consider making such an address. There is not.

For one thing, your personality disordery makes it impossible for you to admit mistakes, and the address would contradict your recent assertions that the pandemic is “under control.”

For another, even if you could admit mistakes, you would never do so out of compassion and concern for the lives of Americans — because your personality disorder also makes you incapable of compassion and concern.

Do this for Barron

Nevertheless, I will make one further pitch to you: Do this for your son, Barron. You must know by now that you have little to lose, with your chances of winning re-election rapidly slipping away. You are likely to spend all of your time after leaving office trying to stay out of jail and avoiding financial ruin.

I would say do it for all of your children, but the rest of them already seem like lost causes — especially Don Jr. and Eric. No one can blame you for not wanting to do anything for those two.

So, take what could be your last opportunity to do something noble. Give your youngest son one good thing to remember about your otherwise miserable, misanthropic life.


David Plymyer

Retired lawyer, former prosecutor, former social worker, Army vet — former lots of things. Commentary published in Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and elsewhere.

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