Trump officials took to the Sunday shows today to, as usual, defend themselves and their incompetent leader from the latest scandals and demonstrations of incompetence. Today’s message was clear: The now-surging COVID-19 numbers in states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona means we are on the verge of a catastrophe, and it will be very important for somebody who is specifically not them to maybe consider doing something about that.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was the one tasked with sounding the loudest alarm, telling his CNN host that the “window is closing” for the United States to take action. The window has been closing since Donald Trump first declared that the worldwide pandemic would not be reaching our shores to begin with, of course, but what Azar means in this circumstance is that we are in a “very, very serious” new phase that threatens to bring the catastrophic hospital overflows seen in New York City to each of the states now in danger. What Azar was not willing to back, however, was the idea that moves by Trump and Republican governors to “reopen” the country even as the pandemic was spreading nationwide is the very reason we are now precisely where government and medical experts predicted we would be. Nor was he willing to endorse mandatory mask usage, even after warning that “we have to act” and strongly urging Americans to wear masks as “individuals.”
On the NBC leg of his cross-network tour, Azar would not comment on Trump’s own refusal to wear a mask, undermining federal efforts to get Trump’s idiot supporters and others to take the single step that would do the most to stop the pandemic in its tracks. “I’m not going to talk about politics,” Azar replied.
Oh, and Azar put on his best hyper-partisan hat to assure America that if the Trump administration and his Republican Party succeed in convincing the Supreme Court to wipe “Obamacare” from the books, then for sure, this time, then present a Republican plan to “protect those with preexisting conditions” with new legislation that hasn’t been written, that Azar would not describe, with “exact details” that do not yet exist. As a reminder, Republicans have had nearly a decade to propose an alternative to the Affordable Care Act that would do so: They have not.
Appearing in Dallas today as part of the administration’s Trump Typhoid & Toadies Tantrum Tour, fellow White House COVID-19 task force member Dr. Deborah Birx chose to feed a few more fragments of her now-shattered reputation through the wood chipper with a message of praise for the state now experiencing a massive increase in cases. Lauding the reopening that have sent the Texas case rate soaring, Birx said it was “a very serious and safe opening plan, and you can see the impact of the opening plan and how it worked out.”
It is possible she was trolling her audience. That would be a wonderful thing to think, if Mike Pence did not follow up with his own praise for the reopening as well. “I want to commend the governor for your decisive action reopening this economy,” Pence burped out in his usual style.
It’s not that Pence and Birx don’t know what’s going on, in Texas. It’s that the importance of slathering praise on Trump’s delusions is of vastly more career importance than whether or not U.S. pandemic casualties reach 200,000, or 300,000 or more. You’re on your own, Every State. When the case rates rise, you won’t even be able to get members of the so-called federal COVID-19 “task force” to even admit on camera that it’s happening.
It was not Republican governors ignoring expert advice to “reopen” states in time for Memorial Day, nor Trump’s constant blasting of lockdown orders, nor Trump’s partisan contempt for mask usage, nor the party’s anti-science ravings about the basics of pandemic spread. It is the young people, says Pence. It is the fault of the young people, and their young people ways, and not the fault of Republican leaders who themselves have ignored all guidance to declare that despite evidence, their states would be fine.
"Younger Americans have been congregating in ways that may have disregarded the guidance that we gave on the federal level for all the phases of reopening" pic.twitter.com/zDuhTeKJPT
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) June 28, 2020
White House economic catastrophe Peter Navarro, on C-SPAN, spent his own time again undermining the legitimacy of pandemic lockdown orders, insisting yet again that the “depression, drug abuse” and “alcoholism” that take place “when people are locked up in cages to hide from virus” is more harmful than the number of Americans now dying and expected to die in the next few months.
The summary, then, remains the same. We are in the worst possible situation. The Trump administration, led primarily by Mike Pence, is fully invested in the theory that the federal government has no further responsibility in stopping the pandemic, has no particular responsibility in promoting safe practices, is utterly uninvested in whether individual states begin to experience catastrophic case loads, and is unwilling to offer even the slightest criticisms of Republican governors whose actions now threaten the lives of millions of Americans. It is not that the administration is merely incompetent; having discovered their incompetence, they have retreated into the defensive argument that it is simply not their problem.
Sucks to be you, Every State. Let us know what happens with that.