If President Donald Trump is so smart, why didn’t he win re-election? Why is he the first one-term president in nearly 30 years?

His vanity and ego certainly played a part, as did his oft-erratic performances when the cameras were on him. But there’s a deeper reason for his failure: He thought he was smarter than everyone else.

Unfortunately for him, none of us is as smart as all of us. As Trump stumbled from one harebrained notion to another regarding COVID-19, it was clear his “strategy” was just wishful thinking.

Here are a few of his many prophecies:

“Within a couple of days, it’s going to be down close to zero. That’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” (Feb. 26)

“It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” (Feb. 27)

“It is dying out. The numbers are starting to look very good.” (June 18)

“I’ll be right eventually. You know I said, ‘It’s going to disappear.’ I’ll say it again. It’s going to disappear and I’ll be right.” (July 19)

“It’s going to disappear. It is disappearing.” (Oct. 10)

To their credit, more than 75 million American voters recognized that Trump — arguably the most powerful man on earth — was spewing nonsense. In a mere nine months, COVID-19 has killed four times as many Americans than we lost in the entire Vietnam War — and the end is still nowhere in sight.

Worse still, Trump’s contempt for simple, effective strategies to keep the disease at bay has made a bad situation much, much worse. Proven measures, such as wearing masks and keeping one’s distance from others, were ridiculed as “surrendering” to the virus. Egged on by the president, many conservatives pledged their allegiance by refusing to wear a simple cloth mask.

It didn’t have to be this way.

Take Australia, where most people still listen to government scientists. With 25 million inhabitants, Australia’s population is roughly 1/13th the size of America’s population. So how many people were in Australian hospitals for COVID-19 two months ago, on Sept. 11?

The answer is 20. (Source: Australian Dept. of Health)

Had the U.S. matched Australia’s response, one could reasonably expect fewer than 300 people were in American hospitals for COVID-19 two months ago. In fact, the United States recorded 1,227 deaths from the disease on a day when Australia had a mere 20 people in the hospital for the same disease. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Further evidence that COVID-19 punishes those who don’t take it seriously comes from the Associated Press, which found that areas with the biggest outbreaks voted overwhelmingly for Republican candidates. The AP’s analysis of 376 counties with the highest number of new cases per capita shows that 93 percent — 93 percent! — voted for Trump.

They gave him votes, and he gave them disease.

Had Trump taken this pandemic seriously, had he played it straight with the American people, it would be his hand on the Bible when the winner of the 2020 presidential election is sworn in.

Unless his lawyers pull a rabbit out of the hat, Trump will be out of a job on Jan. 20. He is a loser — something he reviles above all else — but he will continue to be a big, shining star in the GOP firmament. As Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, put it, Trump has become “the 900-pound gorilla when it comes to the Republican Party.”

That’s quite an image, isn’t it?

Now what lies ahead for this humble servant of God? Will he be leading prayer circles for Jerry Falwell Jr. and other deluded Evangelicals who believed he was heaven sent?

Probably not.

Trump will keep on bleating that he won the election and Americans will dismiss him as a terrestrial caricature of Captain Ahab, forever scanning the horizon for his “stolen” votes.

With his presidential cloak of immunity stripped away, he will face state and federal prosecutors alleging financial crimes and civil charges from women alleging sexual assault. All that, plus he is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

Poor old Donald Trump. His own big mouth cost him the election, and now he’s got a lot of ’splaining to do.

After years of collecting passport stamps, William Brock ran aground on the Palouse in 2001.

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