DecisionsPrudence, Protests, and Pandemics

Published 26 June 2020

On 10 April, during one of the manic news briefings which initially characterized the Trump administration’s erratic response to the coronavirus pandemic, a reporter asked the president what “metrics” he would use to make decisions about re-opening the economy. “The metric’s right here,” Trump said, pointing to his head. “That’s my metrics. That’s all I can do. I can listen to 35 people. At the end, I’ve got to make a decision.”  — Greg Weiner writes in National Affairs that “Trump’s ruminations in these briefings — which have ranged from the false to the harebrained, from the confused to the dangerous — may encourage caustic reactions. But the remark about metrics ranks as one of the more sensible things he has said on the topic.” Weiner adds: “There is an excellent case that Trump’s judgment is questionable. Certainly, he has derided any notion of expertise as well as the sources — such as experience, as opposed to impulse — from which it could meaningfully arise. His own decisions have been poorer as a result. But Trump’s endorsement of judgment — seasoned, as one hopes it is, and as one must acknowledge the president’s has not been, by experience, evenness of temperament, and due regard for expertise — as the means of making political decisions is not only correct; it is unavoidable.”