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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Trump and the Virus

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax and economics issue in the 2016 campaign.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  In 2020, a good economy could tip the election in Trump's favor.  A bad economy would drag him down. Coronavirus threatens the economy -- as well as American lives.

Public health experts and officials faced a deluge of challenges, almost from the beginning. First there were the problems with the initial coronavirus test kits, which contained an unspecified problem with a compound that prompted inconclusive results; it took experts nearly three weeks of troubleshooting to find a workaround. Initial U.S. guidelines for testing also were overly narrow, only screening individuals who presented with respiratory symptoms and had either recently traveled to China or come in close contact with an infected person.
Infighting quickly materialized among agencies that have long had poor relationships — feuding was especially intense between the CDC and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response — and when the situation went awry, recriminations were swift. Public health officials and experts also struggled to find an uneasy equilibrium between doing their jobs honestly and transparently while trying to manage a mercurial president, who griped about what he viewed as overheated rhetoric by officials and the media.

At the White House, Trump and many of his aides were initially skeptical of just how serious the coronavirus threat was, while the president often seemed uninterested as long as the virus was abroad. At first, when he began to engage, he downplayed the threat — “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” he tweeted in late February — and became a font of misinformation and confusion, further muddling his administration’s response.
THE PRESIDENT: But — but I think — I think, importantly: Anybody right now and yesterday — anybody that needs a test gets a test. We — they’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful. Anybody that needs a test gets a test.

If there’s a doctor that wants to test, if there’s somebody coming off a ship — like the big monster ship that’s out there right now, which, you know — again, that’s a big decision. Do I want to bring all those people on? People would like me to do that. I don’t like the idea of doing it.

But anybody that needs a test can have a test. They’re all set. They have them out there.

In addition to that, they’re making millions of more as we speak. But as of right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test — that’s the important thing — and the tests are all perfect, like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect, right? This was not as perfect as that, but pretty good.
In fact, there is a severe shortage of tests.
From my standpoint, I want to rely on people. I have great experts, including our Vice President, who is working 24 hours a day on this stuff. They would like to have the people come off. I’d rather have the people stay, but I’d go with them. I told them to make the final decision. I would rather — because I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship.

That wasn’t our fault, and it wasn’t the fault of the people on the ship, either. Okay? It wasn’t their fault either. And they’re mostly Americans, so I can live either way with it.
Tommy Christopher at Mediaite: "A passenger on the coronavirus-quarantined cruise ship Grand Princess reacted to President Donald Trump’s recent remarks about the “monster ship” by inviting him to join them aboard the vessel and “breathe the same air we are.”
 Q    The Vice President went to the Seattle area yesterday —
THE PRESIDENT:  He did.
Q    — with  Governor Inslee.
THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.
Q    He was very complimentary of Washington’s response.  The governor was a little less complimentary of your response.
THE PRESIDENT:  So I told Mike not to be complimentary to the governor because that governor is a snake.  Okay?  Inslee. And I said, “If you’re nice to him, he’s — he will take advantage.”  And I would have said “no.”
Let me just tell you, we have a lot of problems with the governor and — the governor of Washington.  That’s where you have many of your problems.  Okay?  So Mike may be happy with him, but I’m not.  Okay?