Maybe it will take the perspective of time for people to get away from this awful 24/7 news cycle, amplified by the sordid trash dumps on social media, that makes mountains of molehills and that incites frenzy and public lunacy.
So Trump downplayed the panic. So? I don’t get the issue. When I first read about the newest daily drip-drip-drip against Trump, I did not get it. What’s the issue? Should he instead have done like Zero Mostel in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and run around shouting, “Plague! Plague!! IT’S THE PLAGUE!!!!!!!” What does the media want, a nationwide soccer riot?
Did Congress read to the public during the Revolutionary War the pessimistic letters they were getting from George Washington at the front about the dismal prospects his men faced against the Redcoats? Did FDR announce, “Damn Japanese! And we are not even prepared! On this day, December Seventh Nineteen-Forty-One, a day that will live in infamy, I just realized that we are up the creek without a paddle”? Did John Kennedy say, “Now that the Russians have those missiles in Cuba, we are so royally messed up”?
Look, if Trump had ignored the doctors and the warnings, had acted like the fool Nancy Pelosi and encouraged the public to flock to Chinatown amid coronavirus, that would be one thing. But Trump sealed off air travel from China. He got systems in place. We never did have a shortage of ventilators after all, did we? All this while Pelosi was busy impeaching him, and then the Democrats wasted January as well with impeachment until the Senate finally stepped on it like the spider it was.
Trump made a judgment call. After three years of Trump, we all know how to read Trump. Those who back him, but who are over 65 and with high-risk chronic health conditions, are going to stay indoors and be really careful until a demonstrably safe and effective vaccine is available, no matter what Trump says. Even strong Trump backers do not make health decisions based on what he says nor on Dr. Fauci. On issues of medical wisdom, Trump cannot be a definitive resource because he either does not know what he is talking about or does know but may be modifying the message for the good of the country. Nor has Dr. Fauci proven any more reliable than the president because, with all due respect to the good doctor, he has made so many wrong calls on coronavirus from Day One that he seems better suited, for now, tossing out the first pitch to start baseball games. (Well, as this YouTube clip shows, maybe not.) So a sensible person asks his or her own doctor.
Trump’s backers know that he rarely is to be taken literally, but always take him seriously. He is a Catskills kibbitzer, part world leader, part stand-up comic from New York’s outer boroughs. So his backers know how to interpret him. By contrast, the Left never takes him seriously, but for some insane reason they take him literally. They think he literally is instructing people to vote twice, sort of a Paul Revere Election: one if by ballot and two if by mail. One can imagine writers at Slate or the Washington Post asking for autopsies of George Floyd and reporting, “Trump is a liar. We give him 1619 Pinocchios. He said we all bleed the same red, white, and blue — but the autopsy says that Floyd’s blood was not composed of red, white, and blue but of red, fentanyl, and methamphetamine. Trump is a liar!”
It is the job of the president to protect the American people. It is a judgment call as to how best to do so. Thus, one approach is to sign an Iran Deal to get them to promise not to develop nuclear weapons, and another is to tear up that paper because their promises are meaningless and instead to impose crippling sanctions. One approach is not to meet with the North Korean Dough Boy, and the other approach is to do so. One approach is to ban religious gatherings but to endorse Antifa and Black Lives Matter mob riots in the streets, while the other is to give religionists some flexibility while clamping down on mob insurrection and anarchy.
Presidents always have to balance interests as they make tough decisions. Trump balanced and decided to play down the panic publicly but to stop Chinese foreigners from entering the country. Basement Biden condemned Trump for that. That is the record. Andrew Cuomo forced nursing homes to take in coronavirus-infected people. These are judgment calls, even as we now balance whether to shut things down again or to risk more deaths. It is a judgment call. If we close it all down, then fewer die of COVID, but more die of suicide, depression, and especially of the consequences of not seeing their oncologists, cardiologists, pulmonologists, dermatologists, gastroenterologists, and others who can detect and treat heart disease, cancers, and related perilous conditions, always more effectively if consulted more timely. If we close the economy, we reduce coronavirus infections, but people cannot pay their rent or home mortgages, or buy food. Children cannot learn properly, and their moms cannot go to work.
It is a balancing act. If we do open the economy and society, more will contract the disease and some will die. Likewise, if we reduce traffic speeds to 10 miles per hour on highways and to 3 miles per hour on side streets, thousands more will live. So why don’t we do it? It is a balancing act. If someone is over 65 with a chronic heart, lung, diabetes, weight, or other health issue, it devolves on that person to take personal responsibility and to draw conclusions even if the economy is open. If some young people will be infected by coronavirus in an open economy, that surely is a source of concern, but it has to be balanced. Because, otherwise, we should close the economy every winter, and save kids and grown-ups from contracting the flu.
So I don’t get the issue. Conservatives know how to read Trump. And the Democrat Left does not believe a word he says anyway. If he says the coronavirus is under control, then Biden says he will close down the country and mandate that all Americans must wear masks at all times, except for Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters. No Leftist, no Democrat believes Trump anyway. They won’t take hydroxychloroquine — even for malaria, if Trump advocates it. So no Democrat acted less cautiously because Trump downplayed the panic. For all we know, Trump was trying to save their lives, too, so deliberately told them to do the opposite of what he wanted them to do. But the Democrat Left does not believe him anyway.
So what is the issue?