Published April 13, 2020
President Trump has openly craved adulation as a “wartime leader” in the fight against the novel coronavirus. If that’s really what he wants, he should look to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a role model.
Johnson has often been compared with Trump. He, like Trump, is an outsider whose rise has long been opposed by career politicians and many in media and academia. They also both claim a record of serial adulteries and multiple marriages and came to power through populist revolts with support from blue-collar voters who used to back center-left parties. They even resemble one other — so much so that a friend of Johnson told me that, before either rose to power, the future prime minister was once mistaken for the future president while visiting New York City.
But in crisis, the two have cut very different paths. Trump has been his normal self, shifting between combative and serious tones in discussing covid-19. Johnson, however, has consistently been both grave and upbeat, conveying that he knows the nation is in a crisis but rallying Britons with the idea that they will come through it together.
Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.