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Trump’s Cure for Coronavirus: Blame Europe!

Between sniffles and misstatements, Donald Trump last night issued his most vile political twist yet of the coronavirus outbreak. Unable to formulate, much less defend, a coherent policy response to a public health crisis, Il Duce tried to redirect Americans’ justified fear toward a false enemy—Europe:

This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history. I’m confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens and we’ll ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.

…taking early, intense action, we’ve seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe.

The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots. As a result a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe. After consulting with our top government health professionals I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and well-being of all Americans.

To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight [Donald John Trump, address from the Oval Office, as transcribed by Vox, 2020.03.11].

As I read on Twitter last night, when your only tool is a wall, you have to cast every problem as an invasion.

Viruses aren’t foreign or domestic. Banning travel from the European Union won’t stop the spread of a virus that’s already been discovered in 1,257 Americans in 45 states. The UK has more cases of coronavirus than Belgium, Austria, Greece, the Czech Republic, Finland, Portugal, and Poland, but he’s not banning travel to and from his golf courses in Scotland. There are more coronavirus cases in the United States than in most EU countries, so by Trump’s logic other nations should ban U.S. travelers immediately.

But Trump’s “logic”—if we can justify using that term—is about political cover and distraction, not consistent, fact-based public health intervention. There is no evidence that travel bans, not to mention porous restrictions like Trump’s, will stop coronavirus from spreading. The Trump Administration has failed to mobilize the resources necessary to test Americans and effectively track and check the spread of covid-19. The one good policy intervention Trump mentioned last night, that private insurers “have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments,” was actually a another misstatement:

“For testing. Not for treatment,” the AHIP spokesperson told Politico healthcare reporter Sarah Owermohle after Trump delivered his prepared remarks, which included a muddled declaration of a temporary travel ban from much of Europe, sparking widespread confusion and sending markets into an even deeper tailspin.

A White House official also stepped in to correct Trump’s claim that insurance companies agreed to waive co-pays for coronavirus treatment after meeting with the president at the White House on Tuesday.

The anonymous official told CNN‘s Jim Acosta that Trump, who read his remarks off a teleprompter, meant to say that insurance companies “have agreed to waive all copays on coronavirus testing” [Jake Johnson, “Insurance Industry Corrects Trump: Actually, We’re Only Waiving Copays for Cronavirus Testing, Not Treatment,” Common Dreams, 2020.03.12].

In his confusion and incompetence, Trump defaults to scapegoating foreigners, in this case, the European allies to whose division and alienation the Bannon/Miller-infected Trump has dedicated his Presidency. (Stephen Miller wrote last night’s speech with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.) European leaders see plainly Trump’s crass politicization of his pandemic response:

The pandemic is “not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,” said a European Union statement on Thursday morning. Directly contradicting Trump’s assertion that his administration has been “in frequent contact with our allies,” they said the EU “disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.”

…Many commentators saw Trump’s action as overtly political, punishing the EU, which he has criticized frequently, while exempting the post-Brexit United Kingdom from the travel ban.

“Trump needed a narrative to exonerate his administration from any responsibility in the crisis,” the former French ambassador to Washington, Gérard Araud, wrote on Twitter. “The foreigner is always a good scapegoat.” Since Trump had already blamed the Chinese, now it was the Europeans’ turn and not any Europeans, but those of the EU. “Doesn’t make sense but ideologically healthy,” at least from Trump’s point of view.

If Trump is looking for kudos from Great Britain for its exemption, he may be disappointed. Chancellor Rishi Sunak, asked Thursday morning about the travel ban, said: “We haven’t believed that that’s the right thing to do, the evidence here doesn’t support that. What we are trying to do is contain the virus while recognizing that it is now likely that it will spread more significantly” [Christopher Dickey, “Europe Shocked by Trump’s Travel Ban: ‘He Needed a Scapegoat’,” The Daily Beast, 2020.03.12].

Donald Trump is an idiot. America needs new management that addresses real problems with real solutions, not Archie Bunker’s dying gasps of xenophobia.

Faintly Related: Meanwhile, doing more to calm and unite Americans on national TV last night was Sarah Palin, who put on a bear costume to sing “Baby Got Back.”

13 Comments

  1. Scott 2020-03-12 07:15

    Not much content in Trumps speech last night. This did not do much for the country.

    I was hoping he would push for more such as:
    – asking the citizens of the US to limit their unnecessary travel for the next 30 days. In other words stay home as much as possible.
    – asking that gatherings be reduced as much as possible.
    – asking employers to let employees work from home if at all possible.

    I commend the NBA for what they done. NCAA should also be commended for what they done.

  2. mike from iowa 2020-03-12 07:48

    What? You guys don’t believe Dr drumpf when he says c-virus is no worse than the flu and it will totally disappear in a month or two?

  3. Richard Schriever 2020-03-12 08:02

    As soon as he started reading, I said to myself, “Why isn’t Stephen Miller reading this? It’s obviously HIS speech.” There are certain turns of phrase that are so easily recognizable as “Milleresque”.

  4. o 2020-03-12 08:28

    I would amend your analysis of Trump-think: the wall is not the only tool, the True administration also has tax cuts. As a response to a health crisis, tax cuts will get things back to right. Again, the business-only focus of the administration is clear. A pandemic is an economic issue, not a health issue — or, more precisely, an indictment of a failed heath care system.

  5. jerry 2020-03-12 10:45

    Meanwhile, South Dakota will play basketball!! There ya go, how can anyone think that trump is an idiot when we have schools showing how damn dumb they are.

    Europe is shut down. The museums and cultural sites are closed. The schools are closed. They take a pandemic serious as they’ve had good lessons in that.

    Here, our heritage comes from Europe, yet we fail once again to be cognitive of world history and the devastation that happened before the Arabs/Muslims came along with sanitary solutions….like washing your damn hands. Who would’ve thunk it.. not trump or his posse.

  6. mike from iowa 2020-03-12 10:54

    NBA cancelled season. NCAA March Madness will be played without crowds. drumpof cancelled flights to Europe which ticked off European countries and airline stocks. Dow opened down the limit. drumpf’s markets have lost half their gains in the past couple weeks.

    HRC, by herself, could have run the entire government better than drumpf and his doppleganger dummies.

  7. mike from iowa 2020-03-12 11:37

    Correction. NBA suspended season after player(s) tested positive for c-virus. They did not cancel. MLS suspended as well.

  8. mike from iowa 2020-03-12 12:52

    NHL has suspended.

  9. mike from iowa 2020-03-12 13:11

    Dow dropped 2057 points to a low of 21495 points today. That is only slightly less than three thousand points higher than Obama’s final numbers. I’m guessing the market has lost well over half of the gains drumpf likes to claim as his own.

  10. mike from iowa 2020-03-12 15:46

    Market Summary > Dow Jones Industrial Average
    INDEXDJX: .DJI
    21,200.62 −2,352.60 (9.99%)
    Mar 12, 4:20 PM EDT · Disclaimer

    This is likely to get worse. drumpf ordered a trillion and half buck boost and market responded poorly.

    people with 401ks should be after the gov and the potus to actually do something instead of standing around wringing their hands.

  11. jerry 2020-03-12 23:21

    Jack Ma, shows how to provide needed help. Good on him for his generosity. Wish he could send the US some test kits as we simply don’t have them. But, we are bombing the hell out of those Iraqi sites.

    ” Alibaba Group Holding’s founder Jack Ma, who has already donated US$2.15 million to an Australian institute to accelerate the development of a coronavirus vaccine and 1 million masks to Japan, has now turned his attention to Europe.

    Ma is donating food, face masks, and Covid-19 testing kits to Europe via Belgium, the first European member of the Chinese e-commerce giant’s Electronic World Trade Platform initiative, Yicai Global reported.

    A food shipment has arrived at Liege Airport and 1.8 million face masks and 100,000 testing kits will follow soon, Ma wrote on his Weibo.

    The goods are destined for those countries that have been severely hit by the Covid-19 outbreak such as Italy and Spain, the report said.”

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