Saturday, March 28, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He was very decisive, to hear himself tell it.

In the space of a few hours, Trump proposed, "considered," and then rejected the idea of blockading the entire New York City metro area, including Connecticut and New Jersey. 

He dangled the idea of an "enforceable" quarantine to reporters this morning, and then this evening announced on Twitter that he had decided not to. In between, he traveled to Virginia for a photo opportunity with the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship being dispatched to New York.

It's not clear what, other than reminding Americans that he could make decisions if he wanted to, Trump was trying to accomplish. As public health officials have struggled to get him to understand, the COVID-19 outbreak is everywhere in the United States. Cities are bearing the brunt of it at the moment, and strict and decisive restrictions on movement early on did lead to dramatic improvements in other countries. But for the United States, this late into an outbreak, it won't be contained or even slowed by quarantines

Trump's musings about a three-state quarantine come less than a week after he floated essentially the opposite idea—that the country could be fully "opened up" in time for "packed churches" on Easter, which is April 12 this year.

So what?

  • Actual crises require actual leadership.
  • Presidents should generally have given their plans some thought before announcing them.
  • The health and safety of Americans is more important than Donald Trump's campaign strategy.