By Robert A. Vella
“Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy, but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.” – Sun Tzu
In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump is violating both of these precepts of war so profoundly stated by the ancient Chinese general, strategist, philosopher, and writer, whose teachings are still taught in military academies to this very day. Trump’s overarching goal, which is far more important to him than anything else, is to get reelected this November. Doing so would not only greatly advance his personal and his party’s political objectives, but even more importantly it would preserve the social status of his entire family. If he loses the election, all of his and his business’ criminal activities will be exposed to litigation and prosecution. If all of those ghosts are let out of the closet, it could be ruinous to the Trump Organization and everyone associated with it. To say that fear is Trump’s biggest motivator would not be an overstatement.
So, Trump’s reelection campaign is analogous to war. At least, that’s the way he sees it. In war, one must first identify the enemy and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Second, one must understand their own strengths and weaknesses. Only then can effective strategies and tactics be employed. But, Trump has accomplished neither. His most powerful enemy this year isn’t the Democrats and it isn’t economic decline, it is instead the COVID-19 virus. Furthermore, Trump’s megalomania prevents him from seeing his own limitations. He instinctually believes he can do anything, and that the key to victory is willpower.
As Trump focuses purely on rhetorically attacking his political opponents and those who defy him, and as he desperately pushes to reinvigorate a collapsing economy, COVID-19 has infiltrated the whole country causing illness, death, and social anxiety while assaulting the nation’s frontline healthcare defenses. The virus will not magically disappear. It lives within the population, and medical experts still don’t know how to fight it until a vaccine is developed. Trump’s strategy is as poor as France’s was in 1940 when its military leaders were totally blindsided by an attack by Nazi Germany from a completely unexpected direction.
There were some who had warned France about its vulnerable Maginot Line defense strategy, but they were ignored. Today, there are Republicans who are similarly warning President Trump about his reelection strategy… and, they too are being ignored.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is walking a fine political line in his push to reopen the economy, with advisers warning him there is a significant risk to his re-election bid in moving too quickly while his base of supporters grows impatient with the economic shutdown over the coronavirus crisis.
Trump sought to show the country had turned a corner this week, unveiling guidelines on how states can bring businesses back online during a press briefing that was part victory lap as he predicted the worst of the crisis was past. He said then some states could start implementing the steps immediately.
But allies and advisers inside and outside of the White House are urging caution, telling the president there is more potential risk at going too fast than too slow, citing polling that shows Americans are looking to take a more measured approach.
They have also cautioned that appearing to give too much responsibility to the governors, though it might appear to help spread out any future blame, could make Trump look like a passive bystander rather than a commander-in-chief leading the country through a crisis.
Governors across the country on Sunday pushed back on the Trump administration’s claims that states are conducting a “sufficient” level of coronavirus testing.
Speaking with CNN’s “State of the Union,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, said it was “delusional” to suggest the states have enough tests to soon begin reopening their economies.
“That’s just delusional to be making statements like that,” Northam said. “We have been fighting every day for PPE. And we have got some supplies now coming in. We have been fighting for testing. It’s not a — it’s not a straightforward test. We don’t even have enough swabs, believe it or not. And we’re ramping that up. But for the national level say that we have what we need, and really to have no guidance to the state levels, is just irresponsible, because we’re not there yet.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, told CNN that the “lack of testing” is “probably the number one problem in America, and has been from the beginning of this crisis.”
“And I have repeatedly made this argument to the leaders in Washington on behalf of the rest of the governors in America,” Hogan said. “And I can tell you, I talk to governors on both sides of the aisle nearly every single day. The administration, I think, is trying to ramp up testing, and trying — they are doing some things with respect to private labs. But to try to push this off to say that the governors have plenty of testing, and they should just get to work on testing, somehow we aren’t doing our job, is just absolutely false.”
He added that governors have been “fighting and clawing to get more tests” from both the federal government and private labs, and are continuing to do so. He echoed Northam in saying there are shortages of swabs needed to conduct the tests, among other necessities.