I can't believe how many times I've said, "Trump can't do anything worse than what he did today." But he does. And today was the latest example of appalling worstness.
During the daily White House coronavirus briefing, where Trump hogs the microphone while other officials cower in the background, doing their best to keep a poker face as Trump rambles on semi-coherently, our Idiot-in-Chief announced that he wants to make saving lives a distant second priority to resuming business as usual by the end of March.
Why? Well, because he doesn't want the country to be in a recession, or even depression, when the 2020 presidential election happens in November.
A Politico story about this has a right-on headline: 'Way too early': Health officials warn about perils of restarting economy. Here's how it starts out.
Rattled health officials are trying to fight off ascendant voices around Donald Trump pressing the president to restart the economy as soon as Monday to stem severe business and job losses.
The prospect of resuming typical business so soon has horrified these public health leaders, who see the debate as premature amid a crisis that the administration is just beginning to wrangle, according to eight people with knowledge of the administration's discussions about its coronavirus guidelines.
Health experts are contending the fallout will be worse if the White House declares victory now, only to have the virus resurface weeks or months from now. The government, they argue, has yet to definitively answer key questions that would dictate how to reactivate the economy: Do those who recover from coronavirus become immune? How do underlying health conditions affect the severity of the virus? And, most important, how widely has it spread?
Others have stressed the political risks facing Trump and his reelection campaign if the outbreak worsens significantly, warning that it would be catastrophic if the virus made a comeback closer to the November election — especially after Trump declared himself a “wartime” president and assured the public that his administration was in control.
“It is way too early to even consider rolling back any guidelines," said Howard Koh, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and former top Obama administration public health official. “With cases and deaths rising by the day, the country must double down, not lighten up, on social distancing and related measures.”
It was clear to me that what Trump wants to do is have states feel free to relax restrictions on social distancing and business closures, since he seems to believe that it is only New York, New Jersey, California, and Washington state that have large numbers of COVID-19 cases.
But a Bloomberg map shows how untrue this is. Florida, Louisiana, and Michigan all have over a thousand confirmed cases, and that number likely is going to rise markedly over the next few weeks -- as it will in most places around the country.
Also, keep in mind that it wasn't that long ago that the United States had 15 cases, which led Trump to say that the number would go down to zero soon. As of today there are over 42,000 cases. So Trump has zero credibility as a public health prognosticator.
Here's some of the tweets that were in my Twitter feed this afternoon. I've added in a bit of commentary after each one.
I totally agree with Ari Berman. In today's White House briefing a reporter asked if any of Trump's health experts agreed with his intention to roll back social distancing recommendations in order to supposedly spur the economy. Trump side-stepped the question somewhat, but the answer clearly was "No." Which is so freaking scary.
David Atkins gets it exactly right. The economy will be much better off if the coronavirus outbreak is brought under control by strict social distancing measures over the next few months, as compared to allowing cases and deaths to keep on rising for a much longer time.
Good point, Michelangelo Signorile. This tweet made a feel a bit better. And pleased that I live in Oregon, where Governor Brown is taking the coronavirus outbreak seriously.Wow. Thanks, Andrew Lawrence, for sharing this astounding sentiment by the Texas lieutenant governor. Actually, I'm a grandparent, and there's no way I want to die so my granddaughter can have a better economy. Plus, I'm 100% certain that my granddaughter feels the same way.
Hopefully Trump will realize that sacrificing seniors isn't a good way to win re-election, since they are a large share of his base. And the Fox News audience.
I also hope, while realizing this is unlikely to happen, that Trump will change his mind and start listening to the doctors on his team about the need to preserve social distancing and selected business shutdowns for as long as it takes to start bringing the coronavirus outbreak in this country under control.