Guest contributor: Steve Wood of The News Blender
We knew. Every time Trump makes a statement that this pandemic came out of nowhere and nobody ever thought it could happen, he is blatantly lying, or he is so ignorant that it’s just as bad.
We knew. The experts have been sounding the alarms for many, many years. Take epidemiologist Larry Brilliant for example. Dr. Brilliant helped defeat smallpox among other things, including the senior technical adviser for the movie Contagion. Brilliant warned us 14 years ago of a pandemic similar to this.
LARRY BRILLIANT SAYS he doesn’t have a crystal ball. But 14 years ago, Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox, spoke to a TED audience and described what the next pandemic would look like. At the time, it sounded almost too horrible to take seriously. “A billion people would get sick,” he said. “As many as 165 million people would die. There would be a global recession and depression, and the cost to our economy of $1 to $3 trillion would be far worse for everyone than merely 100 million people dying, because so many more people would lose their jobs and their health care benefits, that the consequences are almost unthinkable.” WIRED
Bill Gates also warned us, quite pointedly, back in 2015:
Add to that the fact that we have had fairly recent experience with similar outbreaks with the H1N1 Swine Flu and Ebola. Both of those cases did not get to the massive pandemic scale as this is, but it gave us a huge wake up call to the fact that we were wholly unprepared for them or worse, for something like we are now going through.
So, yes, we knew. Because of those experiences, there were a number of actions that were taken to better prepare us. A special pandemic team was created at the highest level within the National Security Agency. Trump eliminated that team, deeming it not of importance enough at such a high level. We’ve had a number of simulation exercises in order to identify all of the possible ramifications of just such a pandemic and in those simulations, identified key areas of concern…such as becoming aware that we would be vastly lacking in stockpiles of very much needed medical equipment like masks, gowns, and ventilators.
During the transition from the Obama administration to the Trump administration, the Obama team actually held a “table-top” simulation with the Trump team in order to specifically warn them of a pandemic such as what we are experiencing. There was even a detailed pandemic playbook created and provided to the Trump administration that was either completely ignored or discarded.
Yes, we damn sure knew. Trump is blatantly lying, or woefully, unfittingly ignorant.
Every time I watch one of Trump’s press conferences concerning the coronavirus pandemic, I get more and more incensed.
These press conferences should be used to disseminate important information and updates about the pandemic situation as well as a means to calm the nation’s fears as much as possible by demonstrating that the best, most competent people are leading us through it.
They have been the opposite. Now, they are used to promote Trump. The self-congratulations, the fawning praise from his team, and now the latest…the My Pillow guy actually presented in order to praise God for providing us with Trump. Really?
For the first 2 months since we had learned about the virus and the possible implications of it, Trump did nothing but downplay it, lie about it, and accuse the Dems and the media of hyping it in order to hurt him. I covered that in a previous article, “Is Now The Time To Be Pointing Fingers?” This is irrefutable. There are plenty of actual examples of Trump on video in his own words, in context.
The one exception to that is the action that he took to prevent travel into the U.S. from China. Trump uses that one action on a daily basis to claim that he took quick, decisive action that saved thousands of lives and that this one action proves that all of the criticism of him not taking it seriously for two months is fake news and lies from his enemies. Never mind the numerous videos that we have of Trump consistently downplaying and lying about the virus during that period. Again, his lack of taking it seriously, despite the travel restriction from China, is irrefutable to any reasonable person viewing the numerous examples.
While shutting down travel from China could have played a part in a successful response to this threat, the time that it could have given us to prepare was thwarted. Shutting down travel from China did nothing to save lives, ultimately. The move was intended to prevent the virus from coming into the U.S. and spreading. Obviously that failed. Why? Because that’s all Trump did. If he had followed that up with other actions like using that time to prepare for the medical equipment needs and to work urgently to produce massive tests and develop a plan to implement them extensively and liberally throughout the country, we would have been in a much better position to deal with this. Instead, he used that time to downplay the threat, lie about the potential seriousness, and blame the Democrats and the media for creating a panic in order to hurt him.
Trump’s incompetence, unfitness, and utter lack of leadership has continued on a daily basis.
Below, I’m going to summarize and list a number of ways that Trump has been an abject failure from the very beginning of this crisis and all the way through to the present.
- He knew. As explained above, despite Trump’s claim that nobody could have predicted such a thing, that is merely an attempt to deflect any questioning on how he could possibly have been so ill prepared for it.
- He lied. Among many other things that are too numerous to even keep up with, he lied about when we knew this could be a huge threat to massive numbers of lives. We knew in January. The reports about how this was devastating China were numerous, and those were only the public reports. Our intelligence services were telling Trump and the administration much more. Most certainly, the experts like Dr. Fauci were well aware of the extreme threat and the possibility of losing lives numbering in the millions. And I am very confident that he did not hide that information from Trump. It makes absolutely no sense that he would not have know and that he did not brief Trump on it. Trump tells us that nobody, even the doctors, knew how devastating it could be until early March. That is, pure and simple, a lie. He has consistently lied about the testing, telling us many, many times that everyone who needs to be tested can be tested. This has not been true at any point in time. The lack of an adequate testing system and any urgency to broadly implement it in the early days very well may prove to be the biggest screw-up of all, that will be the blame for allowing the massive spread of this virus throughout the country while nobody knew (and while Trump and all of his buddies and supporters were actively downplaying it).
- He downplayed it. I’ve already covered this above and in the previous article, so won’t go into detail here. The facts are the facts, and Trump absolutely downplayed this threat through January and February. He was right in with all of the others on the right who were all downplaying…from Rush Limbaugh, to Sean Hannity, to Mark Levin, to nearly every person on FoxNews. And of course, that caused all of their supporters around the country to follow along, mocking people on Facebook that were taking it seriously, and convinced that it was all a hoax. So not only did Trump not take any serious actions to prepare for this during that time period, but he was also instrumental in the active process of convincing up to 40% of the country to not take it seriously. The ramifications of that cannot be stressed enough.
- He accused the Democrats and the Liberal Media of creating panic and manufacturing a hoax in order to hurt him politically. While the media was busy actually informing the public about the very real nature of this threat, Trump was attacking them. While the media was busy educating the public on all of the measures to help prevent the spread, Trump was busy encouraging people not to listen to them. While the media was telling us about how contagious it was and the possibilities of overwhelming the hospitals and educating us on the concept of flattening the curve, Trump was busy telling us there was nothing to worry about. He has so convinced his supporters to dismiss, out of hand, everything from any media outlet that does not support him. We can now clearly see how foolish and dangerous that is.
- He Blamed Obama and Biden. Trump claimed that the reason we were not prepared with enough equipment and testing procedures was because he inherited a broken system from Obama/Biden. Stockpiles were diminished and the testing procedures were inadequate and antiquated. This utter nonsense can be dismissed with one simple question. “Mr. President, when did you and your administration realize that it was a broken system?” If the answer is that they recognized it upon entering office, then why has it not been fixed in the three years since then? How could it still be broken after three years? If the answer is that they just now realized it, then what kind of incompetence and negligence would have allowed them to not have taken stock of the situation three years ago, upon entering office? In other words, there is absolutely no validity to this claim. Either way, it displays the unfitness and incompetence of Trump and his administration.
- He attacks Governors. What kind of leader would, during a national crisis of such caliber, consistently and publicly attack any Governor, simply because the Governors do not agree with how he is handling things and they are desperately advocating for their people. That is not a show of strength. Rather is’s a display of utter lack of leadership. Calling them names, threatening not to help them because they don’t say nice things about him and don’t show proper appreciation? Honestly, what the hell is that? He actually stated on stage to the world that he instructs his Vice President not to call certain Governors. Of course, he then said that the VP does anyway, but what kind of message does that send to all of the Governors? Only say nice things about me or risk having, at best, reluctant assistance. Render any criticism at all at your own (and your people’s) risk. Now he brags because the Governors call him up and tell him how great he’s doing. What the hell would we expect? These Governors are desperate for help and if the best/only way to get it is to placate the immature wannabe king, then that’s what they will do with so many of their constituents’ lives at stake. Rep. Schiff warned us of this exact thing in his closing arguments of the impeachment trial. He posited the possibility/probability of when a disaster happens in a State, Trump is likely to only offer the required federal help in exchange for something from the Governor. And that is exactly what he is doing…to all 50 Governors!
- He attacks reporters. This is nothing new. Trump has attacked the media and individual reporters ever since he started running for office. However, doing it now, on the world stage and directly attacking individual reporters in very personal ways is beyond the pail. This is not leadership. He has called them fake news, directly pointing at them and saying “You write fake news.” To put this in context, he has, for years, called the “fake news” media the “enemy of the state”, treasonous. He has fomented such hatred for the media with his supporters that their anger is palpable. Make no mistake, when Trump targets a specific individual reporters on the world stage and berates them, personally and professionally, this is no small thing. He is putting a target on them which absolutely threatens the safety of the reporter and their family. He accuses them of lying, of making up stories, of part of a conspiracy to “take him down”, and in essence, being a traitor to the country. Why? Because they don’t write flattering things about him. They sometimes write very critical things about him. They ask hard questions, that he deems as dishonest and unfair. First, it is absolutely the job of a reporter to ask the hard questions, to get to the bottom of the story, to hold those in powerful positions accountable for what they do and say. So when the most powerful man on the planet berates a reporter in front of the world, that is not something to take lightly. The effect of that is that it might dissuade other reporters from stepping forward the next time and ask the hard questions. And when that happens, we can no longer function as a Republic of, by, and for the people. And here’s the thing…in all of these circumstances that Trump attacks the reporter, I have yet to see a question that is not 100% legitimate and I have not seen them asked in a disrespectful way. In fact, in my opinion, they are way more respectful than I could be under the circumstances. They typically start asking a question, then Trump interrupts and begins a little tirade with personal attacks and unfounded accusations, then when the reporter attempts to follow-up (or even finish the question) he quickly moves on without addressing the question at all. This authoritarian-type behavior cannot be acceptable in our Republic.
- He pit states against each other. When the Governors rightly asked for federal help for desperately needed medical equipment (beyond what the federal government can provide them from the national stockpiles) in order to prepare for the upcoming onslaught of patients, Trump told them that the States need to individually procure the items. He told them that the federal government is not a shipping company. What this did was created a situation where individual states are bidding for very limited emergency medical goods with other individual states (and with the rest of the world, for that matter). The bidding wars jacked up prices and in the end many states do not get what they need. This is an absurd way to handle a national crisis, especially when Trump has in his power the ability to use the Defense Production Act in order to compel companies to produce all of the greatly needed items in quantities such that every state can meet their needs. Trump has refused to use that power which has created chaos, frustration, and a huge deficiency in all of the goods, further endangering our healthcare workers and the patients.
- He makes it about himself. At nearly every daily briefing, Trump spends a considerable amount of time in self-praise, lauding how great he has done and insisting that he and his team should be showered with praise. This is pathetic and is not leadership. It’s something else entirely.
- He chases the ratings. In the middle of this devastating pandemic that is now on track to kill 100,000+ Americans, Trump is bragging about his ratings for the daily briefings. Yesterday he marveled out-loud about how the audience enjoys his briefings and all of the questions and answers with the press, acting as if it was a big show put on for entertainment. This is sick.
Each of these points describe individual examples of failed leadership or even no leadership at all. Each of them, individually, would be a legitimate concern about whether a person is fit to lead such an effort as what we are fighting. Collectively, they describe a person so uniquely unfit, so terribly dishonest, so incredibly incapable of leading us through this with any acceptable outcome that it is inconceivable that he is still in charge.
On February 26 (just a little over 30 days ago), Trump confidently boasted about how well things were under control. He told us that he and his administration had done such a good job in containing the threat that there were only 15 cases nationwide and that number was going down, soon to be zero. Just 30 days ago, this is what the President was telling the American people. Relax, we’ve got this, no worries. Today, at the time of this writing, we are nearing 200,000 confirmed cases and over 4,000 deaths, and we’re told by Trump that if the deaths are kept to only between 100,000 and 200,000, then that would show how great of a job Trump and his team have done, because it could have been 2.2 million.
A rational person simply cannot mesh those two things together and come away saying that Trump did a great job with this. Was he so oblivious on February 26 that he didn’t see this coming while so many of us did, while the media that he denigrates every day was accurately telling us what was coming, that the experts were sounding the alarms about? Are we to believe that Dr. Fauci advised Trump on February 26 that all was well, nothing to worry about? That’s just not possible. He either lied or he was utterly, inconceivably, ignorant and incompetent.
It’s obvious what happened here. For nearly 2 months, Trump ignored his experts and listened to his real advisers…Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox & Friends, Lou Dobbs, Pirro, etc. All of these people who filled so many heads with nonsense about it being a hoax and no worse than the flu (or even the common cold, for God’s sake) and that it was all a plot by the Dems and the media. “Don’t fall for it, Mr. President,” they all said. And he didn’t fall for it. Instead, he joined right in with them.
He gambled the lives of millions. There is no way to credibly say that losing only 100,000 to 200,000 is a win in that gamble.
And it most likely would have been in the millions if it weren’t for the Governors stepping in and mandating all of the controls within their states. As it is, we will now be desperate to escape this with less than 100,000 lives lost.
To watch Trump now claiming he has done a wonderful job from the very beginning, and blaming so many others for everything, is surreal, although totally expected and within character. His attempts to revise what he has done are incredible. But what’s worse is that there are still so many that are falling for it. This is devastatingly discouraging for the prospects of our Republic.
It was my biggest worry with Trump becoming President, and something I predicted would happen…that there would be a major crisis during his term and, due to his obvious unfitness, dishonesty, ignorance, and overall lack of character, he would make decisions that would be disastrous and cost many people their lives. Short of bumbling us into a nuclear war, I never imagined it could be hundreds of thousands of lives.