You really have to wonder what Bob Woodward was thinking when he sat on the supposed “bombshell” that Trump “lied” about the seriousness of COVID-19. Why, Trump said he thought it was serious, and yet he “downplayed” the virus — and continued to do so, fiddling while the nation burned! Meanwhile, legions of Trump supporters believed him like the mind-numbed robots they are, which is why these dumb hicks continue to believe the virus isn’t real! And Woodward refused to warn us all until it was politically expedient to do so! Insert incoherent screeching here: “Reeeeeeee!”
Back here in the real world, every reasonable person understands what Trump was doing. Now, Trump is as guilty as everyone else in government of inconsistent messaging on COVID-19. This is, perhaps, the single biggest frustration where the pandemic has been concerned. Not a day goes by that idiots like Fauci don’t contradict themselves. (Fauci, for his part, makes everything worse by issuing his dictates concerning what Americans should and should not be allowed to do for years to come, as if he is the De Facto Plague King of the United States and we are all his grateful serfs.) Even our own Surgeon General tried to discourage us from buying masks… a far cry from the constant mask virtue-signaling that now seems all the rage. (Fauci even admitted that the authorities lied about the usefulness of masks to preserve the supply for first responders.)
Still, the inconsistent messaging aside, it’s clear that Trump was doing precisely what he told Woodward he was doing: trying to downplay the pandemic to avoid causing a panic. What’s more, we’ve seen that Trump was right to do so. While COVID-19 is a very serious illness, it is not and has not been serious enough to justify the much worse damage we’ve done to our economy and to our population by shutting down almost the entire economy for this long. The initial shutdown made sense; the interminable years-long shutdown will be remembered as one of the worst governmental missteps in history.
I say this as someone who is still very concerned about contracting COVID-19. If I catch it, I will very likely die. Vulnerable populations, people like me, people with comorbidities, people who have elevated risk from coronavirus (and from many other illnesses, such as influenza) MUST be protected. In hindsight, the thing to do might have been to encourage our nation’s companies to let those who can work from home do so. (As we’ve discovered, a huge percentage of our population is entirely capable of doing just that.) We should also have encouraged vulnerable populations to stay isolated from others.
What we did instead was take a knee-jerk approach, shut down the entire country, and then continue extending these unconstitutional shut-downs even after they failed to make much difference. I say they failed because we followed the initial shutdowns with week after week and month after month of mass protests in which thousands of people jammed the streets. These protests were encouraged by the authorities and even sanctioned by our medical professionals. This puts the lie to any concern any of these fools might have had over COVID-19. You don’t get to wring your hands about letting people go to church, “get haircuts,” or “eat at restaurants” when you also claim there’s an urgent need to let them riot en masse.
Trump, meanwhile, in trying to allay our fears, did nothing that every politician on both sides of the aisle did not also do — with the exception of taking swift measures to shut down travel from infected locales. He was pilloried for this, called a “hysterical xenophobe” by a mumbling and muttering Joe Biden, and roundly condemned as a “racist.” He was, however, right, and he acted as quickly as any politician could or would have based on the information available to him. While the Democrats were still encouraging people to attend mass gatherings, such as in Chinatown, to show Trump that he was a racist, Trump was taking the steps needed to manage the pandemic.
Only management was possible. Nobody could have stopped the pandemic; no actions we took could or did mitigate it. We told ourselves it was possible to “flatten the curve”… and then proceeded to flatten nothing. In New York, epicenter of the pandemic, we killed thousands of people (including our most vulnerable New Yorkers)… and then Governor Cuomo ran around spiking the football and celebrating his masterful leadership. Cases are increasing now despite all our precautions. That’s because — and we don’t want to admit this — that there is NOTHING a government or a people can do to stop an illness like this from rampaging through its population.
Our only hope to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 is to develop a vaccine and/or herd immunity… prospects that both seem unlikely any time soon. Trump, in his cheer-leading for the United States, tried to put a positive spin on it, tried to keep us from panicking, and then did his best to manage the situation while we all proceeded to panic anyway. He did so while refusing to grab more federal power for himself, largely leaving things to governors and mayors throughout the US. He should be commended for this — and, while nobody could have “stopped” this Chinese virus, he has at least done as much as anyone could have in his position.
No, Trump did not lie about COVID-19. No, our coronavirus deaths are not Trump’s responsibility. No, Trump’s leadership during the pandemic has not been the problem. The real problem is simply what we don’t want to admit — that we are largely powerless in the face of Mother Nature, and that our only hope of getting through the pandemic is to learn to live with the danger. Somehow, we will have to find a way to live our lives again. It’s difficult to know when or how that will be… but none of it was Trump’s fault.