President Donald Trump should be the best-informed person in the nation, if not the world. He gets daily briefings from a highly skilled U.S. intelligence apparatus. If the Chinese were attempting to minimize the coronavirus severity, these people would have known that. There can be no doubt, Trump was well informed of the impending threats to this nation in early January.
But the president has a habit of trusting his “gut” more than any expert advice so this may be why he downplayed these warnings. Still, it’s impossible to know what goes on in this man’s mind. Sometimes it appears as if he lives in an alternative reality. The following quotes from a Washington Post article on March 14 clearly serve to prove that point.
When Trump was asked about the first coronavirus case in Washington state during a January 21 interview on CNBC he said, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” During a February 2 interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity he assured listeners that, “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”
At a February 10 campaign event – and four more days that month – Trump claimed the virus would miraculously go away by April when it gets warmer. And he substituted wishful thinking for reality during a February 25 news conference with, “We’re very close to a vaccine.”
The next day on the 26th Trump remarked that the existing 15 cases, “within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero,” adding, “that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” OMG! He praised himself for a decrease in cases that was never going to occur. Several days later, a dozen more U.S. infections were identified and a person had died. After two weeks, 1,000 cases had resulted in 28 deaths.
This news conference produced more notable Trump downplays, “This is a flu. This is like a flu.” And “I don’t think it’s inevitable [spread of virus]. It probably will. It possibly will. It could be at a very small level, or it could be at a larger level. Whatever happens, we’re totally prepared.” He definitely wasn’t.
The stock markets ended lower on Friday, February 21 on fears of a faltering Chinese economy, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) dipped below 29,000. During the week of February 24 through 28, however, the markets cratered into correction territory. By Friday, the DJI had shed almost 3,600 points for the week to close at 25,409, as high volatility prevailed.
In early March, Trump turned defensive after being criticized for his faltering response to the coronavirus threat. That usually means target the black guy and Trump didn’t hold back. He claimed that President Obama “didn’t do anything about” the 2009 swine flu outbreak, which was absolutely, provably false. He also claimed, “The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing.” Trump earned Four Pinocchios from Washington Post fact checkers for this dishonesty.
It’s difficult to tell if the president is ignorant, if he just says what he wants to believe in his alternative universe or if he simply lies. On March 6, however, he assured us that “Anybody that wants a test can get a test,” which apparently isn’t true to this day. Several days later he offered a false excuse and claimed credit for his reaction to it, “This blindsided the world. And I think we’ve handled it very, very well.”
During his address to the nation on March 11, Trump patted his back again and began messaging to blame outsiders: “This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history.” Later, it became the “Chinese virus.”
The Federal Reserve cut interest rates to near zero on Sunday, March 15 and Trump came up with this beauty the next day, “We have a problem that a month ago nobody ever thought about.” When asked to rate his response to the pandemic on a scale of 1 to 10, he ludicrously rated it a 10. But his lie on the 17th was absolutely jaw dropping, “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”
Why go back over this history? Well, on March 15, I accidently tuned in to ultra-conservative Mark Levin’s show on Fox News. He and his guest were singing Trump’s praises, giving the president great credit for his response to the pandemic. And some polls indicate that the president’s approval rating has improved significantly. Really?
Various administration officials, including the totally obsequious Vice President Mike Pence, pile kudos on the president during daily updates on the virus situation, while Trump approvingly absorbs it on camera in the background. And the White House rejects any criticism of the president as illegitimate and blames Democrats and the media of a relentless, biased political assault. They claim the president has taken historic, aggressive action to protect the American people. It’s enough to make one ill.
Well, we can’t let Fox News, conservative media and the White House spin machine convince the public that Trump deserves accolades. His response to this pandemic has been self-serving, misleading and woefully inadequate. He justly deserves public outrage over his eight weeks of lies and colossal leadership failures.