Republicans are screaming that Democrats are “politicizing” the pandemic and should stop it until it’s over. But two things: first, Trump, McConnell, and the GOP are politicizing the crisis themselves; second, they are continuing to mishandle the crisis and need to be called out on it.
The White House, under the guise of its coronavirus response, is quietly advancing policies that President Trump has long advocated, from tougher border controls to an assault on organized labor to the stonewalling of congressional oversight.
And across the government, departments have been citing the “whole of government” response to the pandemic as they push through the same policies they sought before the crisis. Just this week during a coronavirus briefing, Mr. Trump said his administration would use authority granted to the surgeon general to immediately turn away those who crossed the border illegally.
Said a former spokesman for DHS under Trump: “It is a way to use this national emergency or pandemic to push through some of these quickly that might not get through in the normal course of business.”
Trump is also using the crisis to ask (demand) that states stop reporting true unemployment numbers. He is using the crisis to once again try to hide the truth of his incompetence from the American people so he can win reelection.
Even more importantly, we (Democrats and realists, who are pretty much the same thing these days) need to keep reminding people how badly Trump has bungled the crisis, because he continues to bungle it and thereby puts Americans at more risk. Here’s a New York Times story from 20 minutes ago:
President Trump and his advisers are resisting calls from congressional Democrats and a growing number of governors to use a federal law to mobilize industry to provide badly needed resources to help halt the spread of the coronavirus, days after the president said he would consider using that authority.
Even some Republican governors — whose position forces them to deal with reality (some of the time, anyway) — are getting fed up:
At one point, Gov. Kristi Noem, Republican of South Dakota, grew frustrated as she expressed to the president and members of the task force that state officials had been working unsuccessfully with private suppliers.
Meantime, Trump is using his daily briefings as substitutes for his political rallies:
[Trump’s] eagerness for remedies no doubt reflects a sincere [sic!] desire to deliver Americans from the nightmare of lockdowns, fear for loved ones and atmosphere of national trauma.
Writes Michelle Goldberg, Of Course Trump Deserves Blame for the Coronavirus Crisis
[W]hile the calamity we are experiencing is not Trump’s doing, his dishonesty and incompetence have exacerbated it, and continue to do so. To point this out is not to dwell on the past but to confront the scale of our present crisis. Trump has been giving daily televised briefings in which he overpromises and spreads misinformation. He makes bad decisions and reverses himself only under the pressure of bad press. That makes frankness about his catastrophic ineptitude imperative.
Elsewhere in the Times, Jamelle Bouie adds:
The likely truth is that Trump is flailing. His change in language came shortly after the stock market collapsed and the president faced harsh criticism for his sluggish response to the outbreak. Rather than face his failures — the United States is far behind its peers in testing, and its hospitals are largely unprepared for a surge of the severely ill — Trump turned to racial demagoguery. He would bounce back not by fixing his mistakes but by fanning fear of foreign threat.
And therefore . . .
In other words, now absolutely is the time for recriminations, because it’s the only way we might avoid another such administration in a country where control of government moves like a pendulum.
The public needs to know that the Republican Party is culpable for the present crisis, just as it was culpable for the Great Recession, even if it did not originate either. It needs to know that in the face of a deadly pandemic, some Republican lawmakers appear to have looked to profit rather than to prepare. It needs to understand that the deadly incompetence of Republican governance is a feature, not a bug. [emphasis added]
Placing country above party demands that Democrats keep up the pressure, keep pointing out Republican misfeasance and malfeasance, keep all this front and center from now on, continually. And not just until November or next January, but until this Republican party is buried at a crossroads with its head under its knee and garlic in its mouth.