Buck passing and finger pointing are part of any incompetently run organization and the White House certainly qualifies as that. Donald Trump appointed Mike Pence head of the coronavirus task force last week and went on vacation, figuring that Pence would mind the store. Instead, things got worse and White House staffers morphed into Chicken Littles, crying, “the stock market is falling!” Oh, what to do! Trump took to the airwaves, finally, late Monday, with some hastily cobbled together ideas. Politico:
While President Donald Trump previewed a slate of fiscal stimulus options from the White House Monday night, other aides privately continued to debate the seriousness of the coronavirus. Officials, like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, had been urging staff not to overreact, while other aides advocated dramatic measures, such as shutting down borders, stopping cruise ship travel and expanding travel restrictions.
Then there was the blame game.
One senior administration official blamed the national security staff for bungling the early coronavirus response. Other aides blamed the vice president’s office, which has taken the lead on the response. “The Office of the Vice President seems way in over their heads,” one White House official said, referring to the coordination and messaging. “They don’t know what they’re doing.”
Separately, some aides took issue with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, who’d dutifully stood by Trump during his Friday visit to the Atlanta agency and commended the president for his “decisive leadership.” Trump, for his part, continued to denigrate the media and Democrats on Twitter for overhyping the coronavirus threat.
It stands to reason that the Trump administration is blaming everybody and everything but themselves, while the fact remains that the key problem here is that since the very beginning of this crisis it has been handled as a PR problem and not a public health emergency. All subsequent problems stem from that. That, and the fact that when Trump took office he gutted pandemic preparedness programs, firing key personnel, and when he needed them, they weren’t there. So now he has to try and reverse engineer something that will take care of this emergency. Rotsa ruck. Not too many people believe that this administration is going to rise to the occasion, after the incompetence that’s been displayed so far.
Trump’s first public comment on the coronavirus was to say that, “there are only about fifteen cases and soon there will be zero.” The number of reported cases is now at 500 and the death toll is 26. Democrats would do well to emphasize this in a campaign ad. Trump loves to shoot from the hip and make things up and the covid-19 crisis emphasizes that tendency like nothing else. And unfortunately, it’s a matter of life and death.