Matthew Yglesias from Vox has a great piece out covering Joe Biden’s recent interview on Meet The Press with Chuck Todd. It was a sobering reminder of what a real leader looks like in a time of crisis. This particular part really sticks out:
The interview’s key moment came when Todd said scientists believe it may take until June before the United States is in a position to start relaxing social distancing measures.
“You’re certainly hearing scientists say that and an occasional governor will say that, Dr. Fauci might say that,” Todd observed. “But you don’t hear a consistent message nationally. How would you convey that to the American people, basically telling them, another 60 days of home confinement? That’s a lot to ask of the American public.”
Biden did not exactly muster a level of eloquence to match Winston Churchill’s famous “blood, toil, sweat, and tears” speech, but he did have a clear and compelling answer: Tell the truth and trust the people rather than raising unrealistic expectations that inevitably won’t be met, and that could provoke a crisis of confidence in the government and its officials:
Look, the American public is really strong and tough. The first thing we should do is listen to the scientists. Secondly, we should tell them the truth. The unvarnished truth. The American people have never shied away from being able to deal with the truth. The worst thing you can do is raise false expectations and watch them get dashed. Then they begin to lose confidence in the leadership. So we should just tell the truth as best we know it. As best the scientists know it. We should let them speak.
Biden then repeated his call for the president to set free market dogma aside and invoke the Defense Production Act to broadly scale-up production of personal protective equipment and other health care supplies before returning to this theme of honesty.
“We should be telling the American people the truth,” he said. “They’re strong. They’ll get through it.”
This is a strong contrast to Trump’s approach, which owes less to the historic legacy of statesmanship than to sales and marketing tactics or the self-help tips of The Power of Positive Thinking. Trump prefers not only to put a positive spin on his administration’s handling of things, but on the overall situation — touting the possibility of returning to normal by Easter and promoting the scientifically unproven idea that hydoxychloroquine is a remarkably effective treatment for Covid-19.
There is obviously a lot of uncertainty about the coronavirus situation, and it’s certainly possible that the country — and the world — will benefit from upside surprises or technological breakthroughs. But Biden’s argument is that it’s a mistake to count on such things because they leave the country both materially and psychologically unprepared for the extent of the difficulties it may be facing.
Well said. Biden has been stepping up his game to guide a scared American public through this time while also bashing Trump for being a heartless idiot.
Ã¢ÂÂ Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 30, 2020
Ã¢ÂÂ Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 30, 2020
By the way, get ready for Biden’s podcast:
Former Vice President Joe Biden took his virtual presidential campaign to the next level Monday when he launched a podcast as the coronavirus forces him to get creative in reaching voters otherwise distracted by a global pandemic.
The podcast “Here’s the Deal” is intended to provide listeners “a voice of clarity during uncertain times” by delving into pressing subjects affecting Americans' day-to-day lives in conversations between Biden and “national top experts,” according to its media kit.
“Hey, Team Biden. It’s Joe, and I’m sitting in Wilmington, Delaware,” Biden says at the top of the debut podcast. “It’s a scary time, people are confused, things are changing every day, every hour so I wanted to have this conversation with you now if we could.”
The title plays on one of Biden’s favorite phrases he uses before launching into an explanation about a subject he wants people to understand.
In the 20-minute episode recorded last Tuesday, Biden interviews his former chief of staff, Ron Klain, who also served as the Obama administration’s Ebola czar, on how President Donald Trump should be handling the pandemic that has killed more than 2,000 people in the U.S.
Both take turns talking about the Obama administration's response to the Ebola crisis before Biden brings up his coronavirus and economic plans.
“It’s critical for the president not to resort to fear-mongering and also baseless downplaying or lying about the situation,” Biden said during the phone interview. “The president needs to be honest, needs to follow the science, needs to be transparent with the American people.”
Listeners asked Biden and Klain questions about the initial plans they put into action during the Ebola crisis and asked Biden what he is doing to practice social distancing.
“First, I’m recording this podcast to connect with all of you instead of traveling across the country as I have been doing most of the last year,” he said. “It’s just not worth it to go out there and take a chance of getting sick and further spreading the virus.”
The podcast is another way for the campaign to try to connect with voters confined to their homes a challenge recent political candidates have not had to face. The launch comes one week after Biden debuted his home TV studio in his basement, where he was able to reinsert himself into the national conversation on cable news following several technical difficulties encountered in his first week of “working from home.”
The campaign said it plans to upload episodes regularly and to expand the conversations beyond the pandemic, although staffers acknowledge the topic will be revisited often as the nation continues to grapple with its life-altering effects.
Once the episode are up, I will be posting them to the Daily Kos. Ron Klain has played a huge role in this campaign and has been essential in helping Biden get his message out there. That’s why Trump’s team is trying to tear him down:
Ã¢ÂÂ Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 21, 2020
The nation’s former Ebola czar recently cut a video for the Biden campaign making an animated case against Donald Trump’s handling of the contagion — a white board presentation that racked up 4.4 million views on Twitter alone.
Over the past week, the president’s allies have trained their fire on him, seeking to undermine his credibility and use Klain’s high-profile role as the face of Biden’s coronavirus response to bolster their own arguments about Biden’s own competence.
The attacks on Klain are driven by a sense of urgency. While a new poll shows a majority of Americans approve of Trump’s response to the novel coronavirus, it also reveals that Americans, by a 20-point margin, believe he initially reacted too slowly to the crisis — a central component of Klain’s public critique.
“Not one Trump supporter believes Joe Biden is capable of a coherent thought,” Caputo said. “But Ron Klain is.”
The Biden campaign dismissed the assaults on Biden and Klain as a misinformation operation to deflect from Trump’s record of making false and misleading comments about the novel coronavirus, pointing to a recent survey showing a majority of Americans don’t trust Trump to be honest on the issue.
Having successfully managed the U.S. response to the Ebola virus in 2014, Klain is viewed as Biden’s most articulate and most trusted surrogate for what has suddenly emerged as the most important issue of the campaign: coronavirus response.
“Perhaps a video with 4.7 million views got their attention,” Klain, totaling up the social media traffic across all platforms for his video, said in an email.
No one is better suited to spearhead Biden’s coronavirus pushback than Klain, who has spent years questioning Trump’s very fitness to manage a pandemic — an issue he raised as early as January 2017, just before he was sworn into office.
In the summer of 2018, Klain warned that Trump presented a “special risk” to contagion prevention efforts as the administration began eliminating the specialized White House pandemic office that Klain helped establish when he left the Obama administration in 2015. Klain has reupped the criticism of the office’s closure but also misleadingly said Trump silenced a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official.
“When the coronavirus hit our country, no one on the National Security Council staff was put in charge,” Klain said in the video. “Instead, Donald Trump sent a message to the bureaucracy — this isn’t a big deal.”
It’s going to be a long and tough campaign but we cannot lose focus or hope. Biden is just getting warmed up and we need to have his back. Click here to donate and get involved with Biden’s campaign.