Wednesday, March 4, 2020

For the next few days, What Trump Did Today may publish on a slightly irregular schedule.

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tried to blame the critical shortage of new coronavirus test kits on President Obama.

Trump has been increasingly worried lately about his administration's chaotic response to the COVID-19 outbreak—or, at least, how it's making him look. (That is one reason that reporters at a daily coronavirus briefing are now barred from recording what administration officials are saying.)

The situation with testing kits has been especially embarrassing. The CDC was relying at first on a defective model, and it was forced to restrict their use during the crucial early phase of the outbreak because of confusion within the administration. This led to a bottleneck in testing, and—even worse—meant that the true scale of the outbreak in the United States remains unknown while it spreads on its own in local communities.

Today, Trump tried to shift the blame for the kits to the President Obama, who left office three years before the COVID-19 outbreak began. He told an audience of airline industry officials:

The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing.  And we undid that decision a few days ago so that the testing can take place in a much more accurate and rapid fashion.  That was a decision we disagreed with.  I don’t think we would have made it, but for some reason it was made.  But we’ve undone that decision.
This is not true. There isn't much else to say, because what Trump said happened didn't happen in reality.

Trump has undone Obama-era work on disease prevention and outbreak control, though. In 2018, he  disbanded the task force that was supposed to be in place to respond to things like COVID-19.

Why does this matter?

  • Blaming other people for problems you've created doesn't make your problems go away.
  • The health and safety of the American public is more important than Trump's political life.
  • Lying about this sort of thing, in the middle of an unfolding crisis, creates confusion and mistrust that costs lives.