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U.S. President Donald Trump, joined by Vice-President Mike Pence, left, takes questions from reporters during a Coronavirus Task Force update on Feb. 29. As with everything Trump says and does, the problem with his response to the coronavirus isn’t so much the words and deeds, as the damage they could both wreak, writes Lisa Van Dusen. White House photograph by D. Myles Cullen

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Trump in the time of coronavirus

Because we’ve lately seen the rise of political rhetoric characteristic of totalitarian states both fictional and not but unprecedented in Western democracies, with the public sphere being divided into normal (the air quotes will go up at some point, perhaps in January 2021) events and post-truth narrative manipulation, this column opens with a disclaimer: The public health crisis unleashed by the global coronavirus (COVID-19) contagion is not a hoax.

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