In late March, The Boston Globe published an editorial excoriating President Donald Trump over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. It said that Trump was “epically outmatched” by the public-health emergency and that his “callousness, self-concern, and a lack of compass” had plunged the country into disaster. Trump, the Globe declared in its headline, “has blood on his hands.” But the editorial was also notable for what it didn’t say. Even as the paper held Trump personally responsible for the likely deaths of thousands of Americans, it did not demand his resignation. Instead, the Globe concluded that the best we could hope for was a reckoning come Election Day “for the lives lost, and for the vast, avoidable suffering about to ensue under the president’s watch.”
The Globe editorial highlighted one of the more puzzling aspects of the COVID-19 crisis: Despite Trump’s egregious failure, hardly anyone has called on him to resign. During Watergate, numerous demands were made for President Richard Nixon to step down. Some 30 newspapers, including The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, urged President Bill Clinton to quit over the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In the face of Trump’s catastrophic ineptitude, as well as his obvious indifference to the pain he has inflicted on the country, how has the only nationally influential voice to demand his resignation been … Howard Stern? The fact that no one believes Trump would heed the call to resign is beside the point; no one thought Clinton would resign either.