So many people are saying so many irresponsible, dishonest and stupid things in the throes of the Wuhan Virus freakout that I can’t possibly run all of them, or even a representative percentage, but I can’t let these pass.
1. President Trump, yesterday…
“This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”
Sometimes I think the President is actively trying to make people’s heads explode. As the New Yor Times quickly documented (on the front page), this is historical revisionism, gaslighting, or insanity.
- On Jan. 22, asked by a CNBC reporter whether there were “worries about a pandemic,” President Trump replied: “No, not at all. 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.”
- On Feb. 26, at a White House news conference, he said, “We’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.”
- On Feb. 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”
- On March 7, when asked if he was concerned that the virus was spreading closer to Washington: “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, I’m not. No, we’ve done a great job.”
As I have written here before, I refuse to make a big deal out of Trump being Trump, and those who do are simply being self indulgent. Some irresponsible statements are worse than others, and yesterday’s was especially outrageous. It’s in the category of lies that are almost not lies because no one could possibly believe them, like if the President said he was a Stegosaurus. However, if the public knows that whatever he says might be a temporary fantasy, his leadership ability is seriously handicapped. The problem with this kind of statement isn’t that it’s so obviously untrue, but that saying it is so spectacularly self-destructive and stupid.
2. MSNBC Analyst Glenn Kirschner, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, in a tweet:
“Hey All. Can we talk about 1 of the few topics I may actually know too much about: homicide? Specifically, whether Donald Trump may have criminal exposure for some level of negligent homicide or voluntary/involuntary manslaughter for the way he’s mishandled the Coronavirus crisis”
I’m going to offer this one as an Ethics Alarms Challenge: let’s see who can compose the most vivid and appropriately denigrating rhetoric to describe this hack’s inexcusable exposition of State 5 Trump Derangement at its worst. Never mind that the evidence that the President has “mishandled” a public health crisis that absolutely no one knows how to handle, or that non-partisan experts like Dr. Fauci and some partisan critics alike have refused to take such cheap shots. Let’s try to concentrate on the fact that criminalizing high level policy decisions is such an irresponsible and dangerous concept, and that such a prosecution would be a breach of prosecutor ethics from the outset.
What an asshole.
3. Former Obama NSC staffer Beth Cameron:
“I ran the White House pandemic office. Trump closed it.”
I’m just picking her because ex-Obama officials have been especially vicious lately. Joe Biden made the same false assertion on March 1. Along with the related lie that the President cut the CDC budget, this one has taken on the character of a Big Lie. Naturally the news media picked up the refrain without checking the facts. The Washington Post alone pushed the accusation in five other op-eds or stories. The false claim was repeated over and over. DNC chairman Tom Perez said on CNN that President Barack Obama “created an office of preparedness in the White House. And what does this president do? He eliminates it.” The DNC Twitter account tweeted that Trump “eliminated the government’s pandemic response team.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.) said on Twitter, “Would be good to have a pandemic response team at the NSC right now. Like we did before Trump eliminated it,.” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) tweeted “Two years ago, President Trump fired the entire global health security team at the White House. Their job? Managing pandemics.”
You want to know why the President won’t stop tweeting? This is why the Presient won’t stop tweeting.
Then on Monday, the Post ran an op-ed that should have not have had to be run at all. I just watched “All the President’s Men” again: when did the Post stop confirming allegations before it ran them as fact?
“No, the White House didn’t ‘dissolve’ its pandemic response office. I was there,” wrote former National Security Council adviser Tim Morrison. “It has been alleged by multiple officials of the Obama administration, including in the Post, that the President and his then-national security adviser, John Bolton, ‘dissolved the office’ at the White House in charge of pandemic preparedness. Because I led the very directorate assigned that mission, the counter-proliferation and biodefense office, for a year and then handed it off to another official who still holds the post, I know the charge is specious…”
He went on to explain that as part of an effort to slim down the bloated National Security Council, the directorate of global health and biodefense was merged with two other positions, not eliminated.
“It is this reorganization that critics have misconstrued or intentionally misrepresented… If anything, the combined directorate was stronger because related expertise could be commingled,” Morrison wrote.
I dunno…sound like negligent homicide to me…