Tuesday, March 24, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He explained that the federal government's help during a crisis is a "two-way street."

Trump held a "town hall" meeting on Fox News today, in which he answered prescreened questions about his plans to have "the country opened" for business with its "churches packed" by Easter—April 12—even though public health experts say that's exactly the wrong thing to do.

Even without taking Trump's sudden impatience to end social distancing into account, the World Health Organization predicted that the United States was likely to be the next center of the pandemic. China got its local spread under control by enforcing a lockdown, and Italy's lockdown appears to just now be turning the corner on its far deadlier outbreak.

Trump has been especially careful to put all blame for the United States' dire situation on other people—on China, on Americans themselves, and especially state governments. In particular, he's clashed with New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who is facing a major outbreak in New York City. Asked about the critical shortages of ventilators and protective gear for health care workers that states are experiencing, Trump said this:

Usually we’ll have 50 governors that will call it the same time. I think we are doing very well. But it’s a two-way street. They have to treat us well, also. They can’t say, "Oh, gee, we should get this, we should get that." We’re doing a great job. Like in New York where we’re building, as I said, four hospitals, four medical centers. We’re literally building hospitals and medical centers. And then I hear that there’s a problem with ventilators. Well we sent them ventilators. And they could have had 15,000 or 16,000 – all they had to do was order them two years ago. But they decided not to do it. They can’t blame us for that.

The Trump administration directed that 400 ventilators be sent to New York, which needs 30,000. On the advice of industry lobbyists, Trump has steadfastly refused to use his emergency powers to force companies to make more, although he has said that companies like GM and Ford were making them. This was a lie.

New York state officials have already successfully sued Trump twice since taking office—once for his scam charity, and once for his fraudulent "university." He's also under investigation there for tax fraud and other financial crimes.

This isn't the first time that Trump has threatened that New York would be punished by his administration unless it "treated him well."

Why does this matter?

  • The safety and health of Americans is more important than Donald Trump's criminal liability.
  • A president who needs to be bribed or flattered into doing his job is unfit for office.