Yesterday, I got emails from two theater companies that said, because of the coronavirus, they were cancelling performances to two plays I had bought tickets to. The WGA wrote to say that they were cancelling their movie screenings until further notice. The NBA said they were suspending their basketball season for the time being. The doctor heading up the government's coronavirus team, Dr. Anthony Fauci, testified before Congress and said under oath that the situation was going to get worse. And the day before, the NCAA said they would play their post-season basketball tournament, but there would be no fans allowed in the stands.
And last night, Trump badly read a speech someone wrote for him to say that we'll get through this just fine and don't worry because we'll be putting up a leaky wall to keep some people out.
This from the man who in 2018 closed down the Pandemic Response unit and cut $8.5 billion from CDC infectious disease testing. And said two weeks ago that we only had 15 cases of people being infected (it was three times that), and it would all go away in a few days, down to zero like a "miracle."
I'll say this now rather than wait until the end like usual. This is not about Trump, we know who he is. This is about the elected members of the Republican Party who enable him and are complicit.
One thing that's been very clear to me. The major steps being taken to protect the country are being made by state governors, local officials and private business. If the situation is at all mitigated, Trump and the country have them to thank. By far, the best government response I've seen have been thoughtful press conferences by Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington (who Trump called a "snake," though Mike Pence praised him), Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Gov. Gavin Newsom of California. Notable for all of them being Democrats, though I would like to hope that any governor would react just as responsibly -- though given today's GOP, I can't swear to that. I've seen some good press conferences by mayor. There were the emails I received from theaters closing their productions. The NBA and NCAA actions. School closings. And more. None mandated by Trump. None even discussed by Trump in his poorly-read speech to the nation.
We don't know yet how far the pandemic will spread. How many people will be infected. How many will die. The one thing we do know is that it will be worse than it should have been and that we have Trump on video saying it's just a few cases, it'll all go away like a miracle, that everyone who wants a test kit can get one and they're beautiful tests just like his letter and phone transcript, that all the doctors can't believe how much he knows about the coronavirus, that he's like a genius with these things, that maybe he should have gone into medicine rather than politics, that it's all just "Fake news" (sorry that was only repeatedly in tweets, not on video...), that he's shaking hands and hugging people and more and more and more -- all the while the cases go up into the thousands, God-willing not the millions, and deaths rise, and people's lives are uprooted, children have to stay home from school, parents have to give up work to stay with their children, business are affected, the stock market plummets, the country moves towards a recession, and more. And more and more and more. While all the videos of Trump get replayed over and over. Shredding confidence in him every day.
And he did all this to himself. People will generally blame a leader when there's a medical crisis, but there will also always be a certain understanding. Where there's no understanding is when ignorance and self-inflicted stupidity reign.
Thank goodness for local leaders, responsible businesses, doctors and scientists who know what they're doing, care about helping others and work to resolve a terrible situation.
And to repeat -- because it really can't be repeated enough -- this is not about Trump, we know who he is. This is about the elected members of the Republican Party who enable him and are complicit.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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