By V. Susan Hutchinson
The coronavirus response team, put in place by President Donald Trump and headed by Vice President Mike Pence was intended to bring together experts to address the growing pandemic. It was a good idea and Pence actually got praise for his handling of the daily briefing. But it didn’t take long for Trump to push Pence aside and take over. He can’t hold his rallies to get a proper fawning over from his supporters, so he has turned the update into a daily Trump rally, with a little updating at the end.
Now it’s not just his supporters who have to hear his lies, incoherent ramblings, name calling, attacks on the media and blaming Barack Obama for everything.
Two of the major news outlets, CNN and MSNBC cut away from his briefing on March 22 because they felt his rhetoric had too many lies and half truths and would be more detrimental than helpful. On this particular day, Trump touted a treatment called chloroquine, which had not officially been approved by the FDA for use with coronavirus. As a result, the next day a man in Arizona died after ingesting a fish tank cleaner that included an ingredient called chloroquine phosphate.
Trump’s words are literally killing people now.
Trump Doesn’t Care About Americans
Although Trump is conducting himself in the same horrific way he always has, and now putting American lives in jeopardy, his approval rating has gone up. Unfortunately, all this does is encourage him to double down on his repugnant way of handling the pandemic.
Last week Trump told the governors of all the states to source their own medical equipment and not rely on the federal government as “we’re not a shipping clerk.” Then it was revealed that states were not only competing with each other for needed equipment, they were competing with the federal government as well. All of this drives up prices.
Trump’s response? He laughed it off.
In the U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson contacted James Dyson, founder of the company famous for vacuum cleaners, and asked him if he could manufacture 10,000 ventilators. Dyson responded, within 10 days of Johnson’s call, by designing a new ventilator specifically for coronavirus patients. He will now manufacture 15,000 by early April with 5,000 of them being donated for international use.
Here in America we found out the Trump administration was going to announce a joint venture with General Motors and Ventec Life Systems to produce 80,000 ventilators, except it was scrapped because the cost would have been $1billion. Not long after, in an interview with his biggest influencer Sean Hannity, Trump claims the number of ventilators states are asking for is unrealistic. He said “a lot of equipment is being asked for that I don’t think they will need.”
So, it’s not about the money; Trump just knows more about patient needs than state governors who have been on the front lines and medical experts.
Trump’s Need for Praise and Loyalty
Trump’s sociopathic need for loyalty comes into play even during a national crisis. It’s obvious that he wants governors from blue states to start playing by his rules. “They have to treat us well, also. They can’t say ‘Oh, gee, we should get this, we should get that,” he said. The latest call with the governors shows they are now, to an extent, playing to his ego to try to get needed supplies that should never, ever, be withheld or questioned in a national health crisis.
Trump was impeached for trying to extort Ukraine. This time the quid pro quo is ventilators for fealty.
Then there is Trump’s attack on Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. As usual, Trump can’t deal with strong women, so he made the claim that he “doesn’t know if she knows what’s going on.” He didn’t even know her name. Whitmer has followed procedure to try to get needed medical supplies, and she has asked that Michigan be declared a major disaster area. Trump’s response is that she needs to work harder and be more proactive.
Let’s hope the people of Michigan, a key state for Trump’s re-election, remember this in November.
The governors from the red states are basically taking their cues from Trump on how to manage their situations. Among Trump’s loyalists are Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. In a state with the most retirees, DeSantis still refuses to implement a shelter-in-place order or close down public spaces. DeSantis is doing something Trump would love to do – conduct business as usual and ignore the potential devastation that is coming.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, another Trump bootlicker, is also refusing [PAYWALL] to issue a shelter-in-place order. “When will it become necessary? How will we know?” McMaster asked. He says he will rely on data, facts, science and expert knowledge and opinions.
Here’s an opinion based on two-week incubation periods and the fact that the Myrtle Beach airport is still open with flights arriving from New York every day. To prevent an exponential rise, people need to shelter in place now while the number of confirmed cases in South Carolina is relatively low at 456 with only 9 deaths.
Fortunately, cities like Myrtle Beach, Columbia [PAYWALL] and Charleston are taking needed precautions in spite of McMaster’s lack of leadership. The Horry County numbers are 21 confirmed cases and 1 death. Taking this action now shows these cities understand the concept of containment, but they need to stop incoming flights from densely populated areas like New York City, too.
Money is More Important Than American Lives
Trump is still pushing to get the economy going again by April 12. He wants to re-think social distancing and other guidelines by ranking areas as high, medium or low risk. The Coronavirus Guidelines for America were only published March 16 and yet Trump thinks he can have supporting data for relaxing these guidelines less than a month after they were implemented. Guidelines that should have been drafted in January.
Should we even be talking of loosening restrictions while cities like New Orleans are just now showing an increased rate of death and New York City is not yet at the apex of the pandemic? The assumption here is airlines and other forms of cross-country transportation would get back on track to help the economy. How do you keep potentially infected people from high risk areas going to low risk areas?
As Trump supporters overlook all of his corruption and mis-management because of a strong economy, getting it back to where it was in January of 2020 is crucial to his re-election.
And then there’s Congress blatantly displaying politics over people with the stimulus bill this week. The $2 trillion package was finally passed today, but only after Sen. Mitch McConnell blamed Democrats for delaying it in the Senate when it was drafted only by Republicans and Rep. Thomas Massie, also a Kentucky Republican tried some costly political grandstanding in the House.
And what of our Rep. Tom Rice of the 7th District? He isn’t above playing the blame game either as he said this in his latest newsletter March 24: “Unfortunately at the eleventh hour, Speaker Nancy Pelosi saw an opportunity to advance her wish list and green new deal initiatives, at the expense of the American people.” All of this was untrue, of course. But that has never mattered to Rice.
Then there’s South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. He attempted to block the bill from going to the House because, as it states in his email blast yesterday:
“The CARES Act does contain a particularly egregious provision which I strongly opposed. The provision allows some individuals to make significantly more from unemployment benefits than they would working at a 40-hour a week job. I coauthored an amendment with Senator Ben Sasser to alter this provision to ensure that those who were forced out of work by the virus were made whole, but would not make more than they were making while working. Unfortunately, our effort to correct this provision was defeated by a vote of 48-48. I will continue working to correct it in the weeks to come.”
It’s clear that Sen. Graham and Donald Trump want money to be the driving factor for the success of the United States. As long as they get to stay comfortable.
A few thousand lives and increased poverty are, apparently, an acceptable cost for a strong economy.