Thursday, April 2, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He demoted himself from "wartime president" to "backup."

Trump was widely criticized last month when he bluntly declared that where the government's coronavirus response was concerned, "I do not take responsibility." 

In the weeks of daily briefings since then, Trump has declared himself a "wartime president" and issued a constant stream of praise for his administration's belated response.

Today, though, he once again insisted that the federal government's role in a worldwide pandemic that threatens to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans (or more) is a "backup." Specifically, in an open letter to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Trump wrote:

As you are aware, the federal government is merely a back-up for state governments.

This is totally false. In reality, the federal government—which includes FEMA, the CDC, the NIH, the VA hospital system, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Vaccine Program Office, the (now nearly exhausted) Strategic National Stockpile, the Office of Global Health Affairs, the FDA, and dozens of smaller agencies—is the first line of defense in a major public health crisis. Most of these agencies have no state-level equivalents.

The overall tone of Trump's letter was angry and combative, and at times incoherent. For example, he said that New York state was "completely unprepared" to fight a worldwide pandemic because Trump was impeached. 

Trump also spent time today on Twitter blasting the "insatiable appetites" of hospitals and state governments who were "never satisfied."

More than 1,000 Americans died from COVID-19 today.

So what?

  • Presidents don't get to duck responsibility for handling the biggest economic and public health threat in a century.
  • The health and safety of the American people is more important than Donald Trump's need to win a screaming match.