By Robert A. Vella
As President of the United States during a global pandemic which is now hitting this country particularly hard, there are two aspects of Donald Trump’s performance to consider: 1) his administration’s response to the developing public health and economic crises, and 2) his political strategy as he seeks reelection in November. Although politics can never be completely excluded from the presidency in times of national emergencies, it is especially inseparable in the case of Trump. Everything he does and says is purely political towards his self-interest, and it is not hyperbole to assert that he is incapable of altruistic leadership.
Regarding his administration’s response to the crisis, it is plainly evident that Trump failed miserably from the outset to protect the American people and the nation’s healthcare system from the spread of coronavirus. Even now, as COVID-19 is ravaging the country, he is acting hesitantly and reluctantly. Trump has responded much better to the economic problems and, in my following analysis, we’ll see why. But before getting to that, here are today’s updates plus an anecdotal perspective on the potential extent of infections in the nation:
Cowlitz County in Washington state, where I live, reported yesterday 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 out of a total population of about 109,000 residents. However, I personally know many more people than that who are currently experiencing mild to moderate flulike symptoms (including myself). The discrepancy can only be explained by the lack of medical testing being done. In fact, people with such symptoms generally cannot get tested. Therefore, it is highly likely that the actual number of coronavirus cases in this county is much greater. It is also reasonable to assume that this situation is true for most counties in the country. Today, the U.S. is approaching 110,000 confirmed cases. What is the real number? Is it two times higher, five times, ten times, or even more? At least one thing is certain, however. The virus is now spreading to all regions of the nation, including rural and low-population areas which were previously only slightly affected.
NEW YORK, March 27 (Reuters) – Doctors and nurses on the front lines of the U.S. coronavirus crisis pleaded on Friday for more protective gear and equipment to treat waves of patients expected to overwhelm hospitals as the number of known U.S. infections surpassed 100,000, with more than 1,500 dead.
Physicians have called attention to a desperate need for additional ventilators, machines that help patients breathe and are widely needed for those suffering from COVID-19, the respiratory ailment caused by the highly contagious novel coronavirus.
Germany’s death rate from the coronavirus is substantially lower than that seen in Italy, Spain, and the UK.
53,340 Germans had tested positive for the coronavirus as of March 28, with 397 deaths. That gives a death rate of 0.74%. Spain’s rate is 7.6% and Italy’s is 10.2%.
This is because Germany is testing as many as 120,000 people a week, identifying many milder cases that don’t end in death.
Germany is also in an early stage of its outbreak, has excellent intensive care facilities, a young average age of infection, and a severe lockdown in place.
It is no secret that President Trump is obsessed with the economy because he sees it as his only road to reelection, and he is probably correct. Opinion polls show that Americans are significantly more concerned about losing their jobs and paying their bills than they are about coronavirus (see: Americans Are Worried About The Coronavirus. They’re Even More Worried About The Economy.). Until people are personally affected by getting sick and/or losing loved ones, they are understandably going to be preoccupied with finances and economic survival. Trump is attuned to such sentiment, and that’s why he proposed giving cash payments to individuals. Nothing puts a smiley face on people quite like putting money in their pockets! According to Nate Silver’s 538 blog, Trump’s aggregate approval rating has jumped to 45.8% even though his disapproval rating remains higher at 49.7%. However, if Trump believes this will buy him votes in the election, he’s probably mistaken. While his approval rating has improved, 538’s generic congressional ballot shows the reverse. The gap between the two major political parties has widened slightly to 48.7% supporting Democrats and 41.3% supporting Republicans. Furthermore, a solid majority of Americans disagree with Trump about easing self-isolation measures to reopen the economy (see: New Yahoo News/YouGov coronavirus poll: 59 percent of Americans say Trump’s Easter timeline is ‘too soon’ to restart economy).
Unlike Trump, it appears that most Americans can hold more than one thought in their heads at the same time. 3 years and 2 months of impetuousness, impulsiveness, irresponsibility, lying, and corruption have been embedded into the public psyche. Trump isn’t fooling anyone anymore. He is what he is, and everyone knows it including GOP leaders.
When Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) called President Trump last Sunday, he delivered a blunt message: If you reopen the nation’s economy too early against the advice of public-health experts, you will own the deaths from the novel coronavirus that follow.
Trump’s stalwart ally also warned that the president wouldn’t be the only one held responsible. Graham said the Republican Party itself risks being defined ahead of this fall’s elections as prioritizing commerce and the stock market over the health and safety of the American people, according to three White House officials and a GOP lawmaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment frankly.
Trump listened to Graham but made no promises, the officials said. Trump argued to the senator, as he later would in public, that Americans must get back to work and businesses need to reopen as quickly as possible.
Two other political revelations have also been interestingly revealed by the pandemic: 1) that national emergencies turn anti-government radicals into socialists, and 2) that even the worst societal upheavals will be exploited by nefarious geopolitical interests.
Whatever the motivation, in the scope of two frantic weeks, U.S. elected officials and central bankers have engineered an economic intervention unparalleled outside of wartime.
All in it would supplant perhaps 30% of gross domestic product with government spending and loans, drive the federal deficit as high as needed to make that happen, and broaden U.S. social spending in ways that just a few weeks ago Republicans and President Donald Trump were branding as “socialist.”
After Congress delivered final approval following a week of negotiation, Trump on Friday signed legislation that would authorize more than $2 trillion in direct payments to households, loans to small and large companies, and funding that the Federal Reserve may leverage into as much as $4 trillion more in credit — money that will leave a deep government imprint on a pre-crisis economy of $21 trillion.
That has happened with striking speed and, in a country known for its paralyzed and polarized politics, remarkably little haggling over either the moral qualms liberals often have about bailing out companies, or that conservatives often have about increasing benefits for those out of work.
Confronting an outside enemy that is imperiling both employers and employees, the well-buffered as well as the uninsured, those concerns have fallen away.
WASHINGTON — China and Russia have both seized on the novel coronavirus to wage disinformation campaigns that seek to sow doubts about the United States’ handling of the crisis and deflect attention from their own struggles with the pandemic, according to American intelligence officials and diplomats.
Kremlin-aligned websites aimed at Western audiences have trafficked in conspiracy theories to spread fear in Europe and political division in the United States, the officials said, noting that Russia’s diplomats and state-run news media have arguably been more restrained.
China has been more overtly aggressive. It has used a network of government-linked social media accounts to spread discredited, and sometimes contradictory, theories. And China has adopted Russia’s playbook for more covert operations, mimicking Kremlin disinformation campaigns and even using and amplifying some of the same conspiracy sites.