It’s hard to keep up with all of Donald Trump’s bombastic excuses and blunders. He’s made so many that they have become tightly woven into a hazy political blur of self-inflicted wounds that has characterized his incompetent presidency.
Take, for example, his repeated complaint about why the pandemic is spreading.
“He’s still claiming incorrectly that soaring cases are due to more testing,” The Washington Post said in its lead editorial Sunday.
“He falsely and callously says 99 percent of [the virus] cases ‘are totally harmless,’” the Post stated in the piece, headlined “The curve bends the wrong way.”
“The president is disconnected from reality,” the paper’s editorial board continued. “Witness the jammed hospital intensive care units from Florida to California. Despite heroic efforts by health-care workers, the pandemic is out of control in most of the United States, many states are overwhelmed and struggling, and the death toll stands at 132,000 people.”
“That is not harmless,” the Post said. Indeed, it isn’t.
Wait, it gets worse. Trump has repeatedly complained about the restrictions the states were placing on their businesses, demanding that restaurants, bars and other food establishments, be opened.
“On top of all this, Mr. Trump has taken the nation into a dangerous minefield of reckless openings, urging governors to relax business restrictions too early, and triggering a level of daily new cases that is three times larger than a month ago,” Post editors continued.
“Some governors are attempting to reverse course, but with difficulty. Bar owners in Texas filed suit against Gov. Greg Abbott’s renewed shutdown order,” Post reporters noted earlier this month.
For Trump, it was a critical economic issue on which his reelection chances depended.
But for Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, it would be the end of “social distancing” that would release a new wave of the coronavirus surge. Which, of course, is what happened in the last several weeks, exactly as he had predicted.
While Trump was playing down the epidemic, insisting at one point that it would “miraculously disappear,” a deeply worried Fauci was warning Americans to “hunker down significantly more than we have been doing as a country.”
Trump wants businesses to reopen, no matter how many people are infected by the coronavirus, because he needs a growing economy to win a second term. And Fauci stands in his way.
“I give the appearance of being optimistic. But, deep down, I just do everything I possibly can, assuming that the worst will happen, and I’ve got to stop the worst from happening,” the 79-year-old infectious disease expert told The New Yorker magazine in April.
A recent poll showed that Americans said they trusted Fauci far more than Trump — 67 percent to 27 percent.
When the first signs of the coronavirus became evident this spring in a Chinese provincial capital, it had infected fewer than 200,000 people around the world. At the time, Trump ridiculed China by calling the virus the “Chinese flu.”
By this week, the viral infection was showing up in more than 200,000 cases every day throughout the planet. It “has now crept into virtually every corner of the globe and is wreaking havoc in multiple major regions at once,” The Washington Post noted Wednesday.
Michael Specter noted in his New Yorker piece on Fauci that on March 22, just a little before midnight, Trump was preparing to tweet.
At the time, Fauci was telling us to “hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing.”
“President Trump disagreed,” Specter wrote. “’We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,’ he tweeted.”
In the ensuing weeks and months, Trump has come up with lots of oddball suggestions to defeat the virus, including injecting disinfectants and taking other exotic, unproven medicines.
Ultimately, the president was in no mood for Fauci’s “social distancing.” He had campaign rallies to attend, where voters would be shoulder to shoulder, breathing on each other.
But this is not the time to be playing politics with a deadly pandemic. It is a time to keep the American people safe.
(Donald Lambro has been covering Washington politics for more than 50 years as a reporter, editor and commentator.)