Drone captures mass cremations in India 2:03
Washington (CNN) -
Washington (CNN) -
Among its deadly properties, Covid-19 seems perfectly designed to destroy the sand houses built by populist leaders.
In January, Narendra Modi mocked experts and scientists who warned that their country was facing a "tsunami" of infections.
Now, India's prime minister is coming under fire for premature triumphalism amid a terrible wave that has people dying in the streets.
Modi is just the latest populist apostle to fail.
The denialism of former President of the United States, Donald Trump, appears to have cost tens of thousands of lives.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro caused a disaster by rejecting covid-19 countermeasures in favor of eccentric cures.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid a high personal and political price for ignoring the pandemic threat early on, though he has since grown more cautious.
Patients die without oxygen as India breaks world record for daily COVID-19 cases
Bolsonaro ignores those who call him "genocidal" as Brazil reports a record of more than 4,000 daily deaths from covid-19
Covid-19: Brazil exceeds 3 million cases and 100,000 deaths 3:54
Covid-19 has no political preferences. Even some leaders praised for their scientific approach have seen their reputation consumed by the virus. The last months in power of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, for example, are marred by a wave of infections made worse by the slow launch of vaccines in Europe.
But the pandemic is guaranteed to expose leaders who undermine the truth, create alternate realities, exclude experts and scientists, and refuse to take precautions to keep the public safe.
Earlier this month, for example, Modi boasted a large crowd of demonstrations ahead of the elections in West Bengal.
His arrogance about the virus is reminiscent of Trump's refusal to forgo rallies - last year - at which he bragged that the virus was being driven out, even as his crowds contributed to a growing wave of lethal infections that winter.
That their negligence is exposed may not deter truth-distorting populist leaders inspired by Trump (who is already eager to return).
Populism will find fertile ground in the economic and social detritus left over from the pandemic.
But when leaders prioritize their political image over public health, millions of people suffer.
Controversy over Bolsonaro's sayings about deaths in Brazil 2:13