Trump's Coronavirus Referendum

Nicholas Connors

March 17, 2020

There is much to be said about current events. There are numerous angles of importance relating to COVID19. There has of course been much said and written about the miserable response by President Trump to prepare, act, and reassure the nation. And a miserable response is the correct way to put it.


A specific group of people will read that as an attack on President Trump and say that it is politicizing a pandemic. Let me be clear, no it is not. Pointing out truths that effect my family’s livelihood and the livelihood of all my friends and neighbors is not an act of politicization.


If we dismiss behavior by our elected officials that results in dire consequences, then we dismiss our own physical wellbeing, happiness, and financial security. It also means we follow blindly.


President Trump’s response to COVID19 is an important part of the story—it is a look at his ability to analyze information, make prudent decisions, and surround himself with smart people who are themselves good leaders. Mr. Trump’s response to the coronavirus is a direct referendum on his fitness to be President of the United States.


The following is a snapshot of how the president viewed the threat of the global pandemic.


  • January 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”

  • February 02: “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

  • February 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.”

  • February 26: “The 15 [cases] within a couple of days, is going to be down to zero.”

  • February 27: “We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows.”

  • March 06: "I think we're in great shape… We closed it down, we stopped it."


Think about where we are today, the NHL and NBA seasons are suspended, MLB is delaying their start, March Madness canceled, schools across the country are closing, restaurants and bars closing—America is slowly shutting down to wait out the now infamous germ. Yet, since the beginning, Mr. Trump has told America no big deal.


In the ten days since the president said “we stopped it,” life as we know it has come to a standstill. Since the president said “we have it totally under control” on January 22, the Dow Jones has lost roughly 9,000 points or just about 30 percent of its value.


The virus is not stopped. Infections are not at zero. We know it will get worse. March 17 marked the benchmark of 5,000 American infections.


Imagine if on January 22, Mr. Trump had come out and said, something to the effect of, the situation in China is concerning, we’re coordinating with state governors, we’re increasing our testing capabilities, we’ll be ordering more hospital equipment, and we’ll begin employing measures to screen people at ports of entry. Wouldn’t that have been the right message? But no, instead, we got Trump TV.


Then there was the President’s Oval Office address on March 12 where Mr. Trump spoke in monotone, seemed apprehensive, and looked ill. In his speech to hundreds of millions of people across the world, the president misstated that healthcare providers would be covering the cost of COVID19 treatments and that the U.S. would be shutting down the import of European goods. Both of which would have been very significant developments if true. But they weren’t true. And the White House had to issue statements to correct the record. The speech made no mention of testing even as health experts were warning the infection was spreading silently within the United States. Mr. Trump also declared that there would be a ban on travel to the U.S. from Europe—citizens of the United Kingdom not included. Two days later, the White House issued an order to include the United Kingdom in the ban.


With all do respect to you the reader, but what the fuck is going on at the White House?


President Trump has also lied about testing, or at the very least, shown gross incompetence. On March 6, the president stated “anybody who wants a test gets a test.”


When Mr. Trump said this, it was demonstrably false. There are dozens of public examples of futile attempts by Americans to get a test even thought they had fever, headache, cough and in some cases, tested negative for the seasonal flu. Even Vice President Pence said there weren’t enough tests the day before Trump made his remarks. On March 5, Mr. Pence said, “we don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.”


Then there are other public antics and comments that make one question the president’s competence. Mr. Trump autographed a stock market chart of the Dow Jones’ Friday rally and sent it to media supporters and members of Congress —the next trading day the Dow dropped 3,000 points. Then there was his tweet saying he was seriously considering a pardon for Michael Flynn. Then there was Trump wearing a MAGA hat during a CDC press conference and calling the governor of Washington “a snake” because the governor questioned Trump’s COVID19 response. Then there was the bizarre press conference with the grifters Diamond and Silk at the White House on February 28.


If all these public activities aren’t enough to make you question Mr. Trump’s fitness to be CEO of the United States, how about his March 13 comment?


When asked if he takes any responsibility for the mishandling of America’s response, Mr. Trump said “I don’t take responsibility at all.”


Mind you, this is a man who stated loud and clear at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016, that when it comes to fixing America’s problems “I alone can fix them.”


What can be easily discerned from President Trump’s comments is that he is a man who can’t get past being a TV personality. Trump is Sean Hannity. Trump is Lou Dobbs. Damn the truth, the ratings are what’s important. This is dangerous. And sadly, and with great alarm, we are now in the middle of a catastrophe in which the ramifications and the longevity will be dramatically more significant because we have an incompetent commander-in-chief.


And let’s be clear, Trump’s apathetic public comments are an exact reflection of what’s happening behind the scenes.


Look at the airports. Chaos over the weekend. Long lines turned into a mass of people stuck in airport corridors because Homeland Security, which is on its fifth Secretary in three years, and the current Secretary is only there in an acting capacity, deployed rash protocols for screening without appropriate logistical support. Mind you, this screening began only a couple days ago—two months after America’s first case. And even now, with a couple days of being able to feel out problems and streamline the process, a former spokesman for Ted Cruz, Ron Nehring, had an experience on March 16 that says there is no screening happening.

Nothing appears to have changed since early March when Julia Lindau of Vice News returned from covering COVID19 in Milan, the epicenter in Italy. 

Then there is the need for respirators. One of the reasons COVID19 is ten times more lethal than the seasonal flu is because it can greatly impair a person’s ability to breath. Germany, a country with 250 million fewer citizens than America, has ordered 10,000 respirators. What has President Trump done?  Nothing.


On March 16 on a call with the nation’s governors, Mr. Trump said, “respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves.” Good luck everyone!


There are more things that could be noted, but the point is clear, the President of the United States and his team have failed to take a pandemic seriously and to act prudently.


No one is saying the president should have been able to stop COVID19 from reaching America, but the president’s carelessness and apathy to the threat is going to result in more American deaths, more loss of wealth, and more time absent loved ones.