If you’re looking for empathy from your president and your name isn’t Paul Manafort (a convicted felon), Michael Flynn (who plead guilty to a felony), “Scooter” Libby (also a convicted felon), or Roger Stone (yet another convicted felon), forget about it.
He’s all tapped out. The president’s publicly expressed concern for the 75,000-plus Americans who have died as of May 8 from COVID-19 (according to the Centers for Disease Control) is underwhelming at best. The CDC also reports that eight of 10 of the victims are 65 or older.
So if you’re a senior citizen —full disclosure: this author is rising 71— and you’re worried about our federal government’s response to the coronavirus, up to now and in the future, you have every reason to be.
As with so many issues, our president has come down firmly on both sides of the coronavirus problem. At one point he said, “one is too many deaths.” But soon thereafter, as the economy tanked and his reelection prospects dimmed, he had a political epiphany: it was time to open up the country. Damn the dead bodies, full speed ahead: “We have to be warriors, we can’t keep our country closed down for years.”
“We?” This is coming from a man who is tested for the virus daily, as is everyone in his general vicinity. My fellow warriors, have you been tested lately? How about your friends and family?
And no one is talking about keeping the country closed “for years.” What people are advocating is opening America up carefully so we don’t cause needless suffering and death, and likely even greater harm to the economy.
And yet with the president’s blessing, many states are opening up again even though most of them do not meet his administration’s own guidelines for doing so. Damn our own guidelines, full speed ahead.
To be fair, the president has admitted euphemistically that opening up the country rapidly will have consequences: “Will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon.” November is nigh, after all.
“Affected badly?” My eighth grade English teacher would have drawn a red line though such slippery phrasing and replaced it with this honest declarative sentence: “People are going to get sick and die” as a result of this headlong, ill-thought-out policy.
It would be one thing if this administration had done all it could, early and often, to battle the coronavirus. But it is well documented that the president and his minions initially viewed the pandemic more as a political than a medical threat. There was no there there, they insisted. It was some Democratic Party hoax to bring him down. Everything, after all, is about him, including pandemics.
In late February, when he and his administration should have been on full alert and preparing to do battle with the virus, this is what our purported leader said: “We’re very, very ready for this. The risk to the American people remains very low.”
What the president must have meant by “we” was the individual 50 states, because when things got tough, our president was the opposite of Harry Truman: he passed the buck to the states. They had to get their own supplies, figure out testing, and make plans to fight the virus. The White House was too busy trying to look busy to contribute anything meaningful.
In addition to blaming others for everything that has gone badly, he shamelessly pats himself on the back for doing such a wonderful job — at what is anyone’s guess.
Having passed on his opportunity to go to war 50 years ago (those terrible bone spurs in his footsies, you may recall), the current denizen of the White House is now proclaiming himself a “wartime president.”
He’ll be fine, of course; it’s his warriors I’m worried about.
David Holahan is a freelance writer from East Haddam.