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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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As state and local officials across the United States diligently take steps aimed at dealing with the coronavirus and COVID 19 outbreak–and even federal lawmakers and members of his own administration hammer out their own national responses–Donald Trump remains incapable of making any real positive contributions, according to those who are closely watching the White House and the federal response.
State governors and other officials across the country have been closing schools, government offices, even restaurants, bars, movie theaters and other establishments–anywhere that crowds could gather and spread the virus which has now been declared a global pandemic.
The virus has infected more than 180,000 people and has killed more than 7,000 worldwide. In the United States, 3,487 have been sickened, with 68 having died, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Trump administration officials, such as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have been working with leaders on Capitol Hill to craft legislation to stem the economic fallout from the pandemic.
Trump, himself, has been personally not particularly useful in any of these responses, often only lobbing insults at others.
“Andrea, the greatest impediment to responsibly addressing this health crisis is Donald Trump’s own ego,” David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida and frequent Trump critic, told Andrea Mitchell on her MSNBC program. “He is on a single narrative, and that narrative from the president is, ‘We have it all under control.’ He said that when there was one case in January. He said that when there were 15 cases three weeks ago, then 300 cases, now 3,000 cases.
“He wants the American people to believe we all have it under control, but we know that we simply do not. And if you follow the modeling of other countries, as you’ve reported on, as Dr. [Anthony] Fauci [a member of the federal coronavirus task force] has mentioned, we clearly are heading towards a policy decision that will involve a full shutdown of any social activity in the United States, including schools and churches, and also possibly a freezing of the financial markets until we get a handle around this.
“…We’re seeing governors in New York and Illinois and Ohio have to make those decisions. Donald Trump has such a fear of failure that he refuses to make the responsible decisions now, and it will risk the health of Americans for the weeks to come,” Jolly said.
Trump has been more focused on saving the stock market and his own chances for reelection than anything related to the danger posed by the virus itself, according to Philip Rucker, the White House bureau chief for the Washington Post.
“The president went through the motions today at that news conference and checked some boxes and said some of the things people want to hear, but that does not mean that the problems internally are fixed. In fact, our reporting shows that he has been fixated throughout this crisis on two things, his self-image and the stock markets,” he said. “Why the stock markets? Because he sees that as a barometer for his chances of re-election. He is fixated on himself. Vice President Pence is leading the task force. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, in recent days has really taken control of some aspects of this but he has zero experience in managing the vast federal bureaucracy and he has zero expertise in infectious diseases.”
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