The Excuses Begin

The main excuses shaping up to explain away Trump’s abysmal response to the pandemic are twofold.

First is the Condoleeze Rice defense — no one could have predicted this. This one has been underway for a while. Aaron Blake wrote on March 19:

As President Trump has come around to the severity of the coronavirus, he has increasingly fought back against criticism of his administration’s response by suggesting the crisis was basically inconceivable.

“I would view it as something that just surprised the whole world,” he said Thursday at his daily briefing, adding later that it was “uncharted territory” and saying, “Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion.”

“So there’s never been anything like this in history. There’s never been,” he said. “And nobody’s ever seen anything like this.”

He added Wednesday: “Nobody ever saw numbers like this even with regard to testing.”

“I just think this is something … that you can never really think is going to happen,” he said March 6.

“It’s an unforeseen problem,” he added the same day. “What a problem. Came out of nowhere.”

See also Greg Sargent, Kellyanne Conway’s ugly deceptions preview the Big Lie to come.

First, this pandemic is hardly unprecedented. There was a big, honking precedent in 1918-1920 that killed Trump’s grandfather. The so-called “Spanish flu” infected a third of the world’s population and is estimated to have killed 50 million people. That’s some precedent right there. More recently another coronavirus,  SARS-CoV-1 (our Covid 19 is officially  SARS-CoV-2), also was designated a pandemic in 2003, although it was far better contained through coordinated international effort. Our Center for Disease Control was a critical part of that effort. Obviously, that was before Trump gutted the agency and put some ass-kissing wingnut in charge of it.

And Trump was given plenty of warnings. I am grateful to John Haltiwanger and Sonam Sheth of Business Insider, who compiled all the warnings in Trump says ‘nobody’ could’ve predicted a pandemic like coronavirus. Here are all the times he was warned about it and refused to take action. This one’s a clip ‘n’ save, folks. Bookmark it and be prepared to trot it out whenver you encounter a wingnut claiming no one could have anticipated the pandemic.

The other excuse is that Trump was distracted by the Democrats’ impeachment effort. Trump was acquitted on February 5th, so what’s his excuse after that? But here he is on January 22, in Davos, a few hours after the first case in the U.S. had been diagnosed. (You only need to watch the first minute or so.)

He doesn’t seem that distracted to me. Just clueless. This video is the source of the quote:

Love that quote.

One other point Trump makes sometimes is that he inherited a “mess” and a “broken system” when he became POTUS. In other words, blame Obama. But the truth is that Trump inhereted a world-class pandemic fighting system from the Obama Administration — and dismantled it. See How America built the best pandemic response system in history – and threw it away by Will Dunn in New Statesman (h/t moonbat). From the article blurb: “The Trump administration destroyed an infrastructure, built over two decades, that may have been humanity’s most powerful weapon against new diseases.”

No country, least of all a vast land mass with 149 international airports, can ever be fully prepared for a pandemic – but in 2016, the US was, domestically and internationally, more prepared than it had ever been.

And then Trump became POTUS, and IMO it’s not going too far to say that he dismantled the entire pandemic-response infrastructure he inherited from Obama. What little was left of it was too gutted to be of much use. If the system is broken, it was Trump who broke it.

See also Paul Krugman, This Land of Denial and Death.

Update: See also Republicans say impeachment distracted Trump from coronavirus. But the president golfed and held rallies during his trial while downplaying the virus for weeks in Business Insider.