Donald Trump and the coronavirus will be inextricably linked for eternity, thanks not only to the way he dismantled the program Barack Obama had established to handle future pandemics, or how Trump mishandled our country’s response to this particular disease, but for the many idiotic statements he has made about it.

I pray I’ll be alive a year from now and able to choose from two t-shirts, one saying, “I survived COVID-19!”, the other saying, “I survived Donald Trump!” That assumes both the coronavirus and the Trumpvirus will be gone by that time, though Trump is sure to claim that any election he does not win will have been rigged by those dastardly liberals who tampered with mail-in ballots. Should he lose in November, he may have to be carried from the Oval Office in January.

While COVID-19 threatens my physical well-being, Donald Trump threatens my mental health. As an American citizen, it’s discouraging to be reminded daily that our White House is occupied by a twitterpated buffoon who seems intent on changing the name of our country to the Divided States of America. ("DSA! DSA!")

It’s possible, according to several “experts”, that, within a year, we may have a vaccine that offers protection against COVID-19. Unfortunately, there will be no vaccine to prevent anyone from supporting a man who so clearly has demonstrated he is not fit to be our president.

ONE HOPES he never tops his performance at the ill-conceived, June 20 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and during the days that followed. But so far, Trump has demonstrated an uncanny ability to follow dumb statements with even dumber explanations.

Some might claim there is a certain ingenuity at work. That is, if you believe Trump is merely following his long-held belief that you really can fool a substantial number of people all of the time. Why this possibility hits home with me is something I wrote many years ago in a newspaper column about television. I said networks could save themselves a lot of time, money and embarrassment if they stopped canceling low-rated programs and simply declared them to be huge — make that huuuuge — hits. People would say, “Gee, I never watched those programs, but they must be good, because they are hits!”

That column was written tongue-in-cheek, though I actually thought the idea was worth trying. So I guess I shouldn’t so strongly dislike a president who is proving that I was correct — denial is the best tactic. Granted, all politicians deny and tell lies, but never have we had a president who does both so often or so blatantly.

All our lives we’d been led to believe that when he person is so publicly exposed as a liar ... and a con man ... and as thoroughly inept at his job as Donald Trump, the public will rise up and banish that person to the obscurity he or she richly deserves.

Yet even after Trump demonstrated his ignorance during the 2016 campaign, especially during the debates with Hilary Clinton, he was elected, thanks to our system which allows a person to emerge victorious even when he receives 2,868,686 fewer votes than his opponent. Mind you, there are good reasons the Electoral College was established, but our forefathers couldn’t envision a time so many people would vote for a candidate who clearly did not deserve their backing.

WORKING for this man must be a nightmare. His latest press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, who reminds me of actress-singer Aly Michalka during her blonde phase, can’t possibly be as dense as she appears in front of reporters, giving convoluted answers that later are denied by her boss.

Consider the aftermath of the Tulsa debacle in which Trump did a passable impression of the late comedian Alan King, and told the tiny Tulsa gathering that he ordered the slow-down of COVID-19 testing. McEnany then claimed the president made the statement in jest, but later Trump denied he was joking. Perhaps he couldn't remember what he said or how he said it. Word is, he was highly upset that two-thirds of the seats in the venue were empty and considered calling off the event without making an appearance.

Despite claiming he doesn't joke, it’s obvious the man attempts to be funny from time to time. One example was his needless recent ramble that the United Kingdom, or UK, is the proper name for what some people call Great Britain or Britain, and once upon a time called England. He either was trying to be humorous, or educational, passing along something he’d finally learned himself to an audience that had been aware of the United Kingdom for many years.

He made remarks in a similar vein when he told an interviewer he was surprised how large the United States government was. Wow! Even larger than a big corporation! So much for Trump's preparation for the job.

Should Trump fire his press secretary, he’ll tell us, “Kayleigh’s such a funny way to spell a name that I’ve seen as K-a-y-l-e-e, and K-a-y-l-e-y, and K-a-l-y, and K-a-i-l-e-y, and even C-a-i-l-e-i-g-h, so I have no idea what her parents were thinking. Maybe that’s why she gave reporters so many cockamamie answers ...”

TO ME, the most important — and disturbing — thing that happened in Tulsa was Trump saying he preferred fewer coronavirus tests because with fewer tests there would be fewer cases of the illness revealed. So either the man doesn’t want to know how many Americans are sick — for fear the truth would reflect badly on his early assessments of the situation — or he is actually dumb enough to believe people aren't sick unless a test says so. This prompted someone on television to apply Trump's line of reasoning elsewhere, and ask, "Is a woman pregnant if she hasn't been tested?"

When asked later whether he really ordered a slow-down in the testing, Trump ducked the question and claimed the United States has conducted more tests than all other countries combined, which can’t possibly be true, and that our tests were, in one of Trump’s favorite words, the “greatest.”

So on the one hand, he tells those who attended his Tulsa rally that he ordered a slow-down in testing, because the more you test, the more cases of the disease you have ...

And then, in Arizona, he bragged to reporters about how many tests have been conducted.

His campaign slogan should be: Donald Trump — You Can Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too!

HIS TULSA stand-up routine, I think, was another example of Trump’s disdain for his supporters. In a way, who could blame him? He knew he'd be addressing people who ignored all precautions while cases of a dangerous disease were on the rise. Such people are either idiots or as deep in denial about reality as is Trump. These were people who cheered when Trump drank a glass of water with one hand (risking spillage that could spot his tie). They also cheered his explanation for the trouble he had walking down a ramp at West Point. It was because he was wearing leather-soled shoes.

(The flip-side of that explanation, of course, is Trump isn’t smart enough to know what shoes to wear.)

Despite his endless gaffes, Trump thinks he’s a genius. Apparently he thinks voters are nitwits. I hope he’s wrong, but I am not assured by polls that indicate Joe Biden is only 14 points ahead of Trump. Based on his record and the stupid things he says every day, Trump shouldn't win re-election even if he were unopposed.

UNFORTUNATELY, Trump may have found the tactic that will get him re-elected. He'll turn his campaign into a race war, attacking Black Lives Matter, whose leaders and followers are playing into Trump's hand with rhetoric that often is ridiculous and offensive, threatening to undermine several legitimate goals.

Example: The self-serving, but illogical slogan — "All lives can't matter until black lives matter." Think about that one for a little while. Why have so much obvious resentment for anyone who is concerned with all lives?

One of the most offensive incidents in connection with BLM came when Andrew Puckey, a Central New York English teacher, was pressured into apologizing for saying, “At Whitesboro High School, all lives matter.” The man should have been applauded.

Another example: BLM activist Angela Rye, an attorney and political commentator who was executive director and general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus for the 112th Congress, said on CNN that slaves built our entire country. This certainly is news to many people, such as:

• Descendants of coal miners who were virtual slaves to the companies that employed them. Coal miners worked in the most horrible conditions imaginable to provide the nation with what at the time was our most important fuel.

• Descendants of Chinese laborers best remembered for building the first intercontinental railroad, and dying in bunches along the way.

• Migrant workers who harvested our crops.

• Descendants of European immigrants who were put to work on this country’s most dangerous construction projects, and paid the ultimate price. Tell all these people how much the lives of their ancestors mattered.

• When Ms. Rye talks about reparations, she should take several other groups into consideration, or does she think we’ve done our fair share for Native Americans?

Such talk offends people, for very good reasons. When you're fighting what you believe is the good fight, you should keep your eye on the target instead of attacking on all fronts and gunning down your allies.

And then there's the National Football League, which handed Trump ammunition by announcing the black national anthem will be played before games during the first weekend of the season, assuming there actually will be a season. Me? I don't particularly care, since I think it's silly to play our national anthem before a game where violence is encouraged, and announcers debate whether it was a "good hit" that put a player on a stretcher.

Many years ago, a later disgraced vice president, Spiro Agnew, talked about America's "silent majority". I fear Donald Trump may be about to prove such a group exists. If so, that would be the craziest event in the craziest year I've ever experienced.

WEIRD AFTERTHOUGHT: If we're still wearing them into the fall, will masks replace political bumper stickers? It certainly would be ironic if "Vote for Trump" masks replaced MAGA hats. So in addition to littering our roads with signs, expect some candidates to put their names on masks and distribute them to would-be supporters.