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By Tony Morrison – our US Correspondent
March 4th 2020
Last week was the week some of our politicians decided to get serious about coronavirus. When I say “Our,” I mean just the Democrats of course. The Trump Administration has been serious for the last two months and has been working a plan during that time. To deal with the coronavirus strain that produces the COVID-19 disease in humans, the Administration has established testing protocols, sent out testing kits for the virus to all states, put in place screening protocols and travel bans, particularly from Hubei Province (capital is Wuhan) in China, set up quarantine camps at military bases, declared a public health emergency and is rushing to develop a vaccine.
In a prior column on this site, Spot The Looney, three weeks ago, I jokingly said that the Dems’ next move after the disastrous Impeachment debacle would be accusing Trump of having something to do with coronavirus. I deliberately chose the most outrageous claim the Dems could make in a bid to be funny. It did not take long for the Dems to mainstream this lunacy. The decidedly unfunny Senator, Chris Murphy, thundered forth to anyone who would listen a mere week after my article:
“For years many of us have warned that Trump’s attacks on global health programs and his complete disinterest in protecting America from pandemic diseases would have consequences for our nation’s safety. Now the day has arrived.”
And then last week, after the few trial balloons from the Murphys of this world, Orange Disease Bad really went into overdrive. Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, went ballistic on the Senate floor. Not only had Trump irreparably damaged our abilities to fight pandemics in the past, he was asking for too little money to fight coronavirus in the present and his budget asks for the future would completely decimate the entire world’s abilities to fight pandemics ever again. Nancy Pelosi did her usual Trump Bad schtick, the media went mental (my favourite was the New York Times column “Let’s Just Call It Trumpvirus”) and all Dem candidates for President left off Bloomberg-bashing to screech and rend their garments on the disease-ridden fruited plain that our country had become due to the efforts of just one man.
As a fan of the absurd, I cherish the most delightful response to-date from Elizabeth Warren. She declared at one of the incessant Dem debates this week that she had a plan for coronavirus. Not surprising, as the indefatigable Warren has a plan for everything, well except for getting elected President. What is surprising is why Warren only has a plan two months late, i.e., behind the despised Trump.
But no matter, she has one now. The plan calls for dismantling all security funding for the southern border and then transferring the money to various unspecified coronavirus-fighting things and stuff. The problem with the Warren brain is it only functions in terms of narrow sequential binary plans (Me good, Trump bad; Me President, Trump not; problem solved). The thought has not occurred to her that the first tactic in fighting an epidemic is to control the border as to who comes in from an infected country, e.g., as the Trump Administration did back in January. The flinging borders wide open is great for those trying to destroy this country, but is rather frowned on by experts on the containment of the global spread of diseases.
The week ended gloriously for the Resistance (Orange Disease brand) with Rosa DeLauro, Dem Head of the House Appropriations Health Committee, shaking her broomstick furiously at Administration folks who were briefing legislators. She was so obnoxious that many legislators walked out in disgust. Even the Dems realised that you can go too far when the subject is a potential pandemic and the deaths of Americans. Kudos for Dem Rep. Donna Shalala, who led the Health department under Clinton, who made it clear what she thought: “No one wanted to hear that, either the Democrats or Republican. We just wanted to hear the substance,” she said. And an extra shoutout for AP, no friend of Trump’s administration, for running a fact check pointing out the Dem lies, “Democrats distort Coronavirus readiness.”
The key question, though, is why did the Dems throw their viral bombs last week? A clue is that the only news of note was Trump’s triumphal visit to India. The Dems do not like these visits at all as it gives a visual lie to their view that Trump is as hated around the world as he is on a Dem debate stage. Every time Trump goes abroad his popularity ratings soar and the Dems just can’t have that. All manner of distractions are deployed to remind voters of the Trump awfulness in the face of a very popular American president. This time, why not coronavirus?
But the virulence shown this week is far more than that warranted by watching millions of folks in another country saluting the President. The Dems now seem to be recovering their mojo a little after their brutal Impeachment beatdown, and it’s back to work they go. There is a Presidential election to win, and they’ll need all the help they can get with a socialist platform and a communist candidate. And the coronavirus is a double whammy as it not only can be used as an example of Trump’s supposed incompetence, but also, bigged up into a panic, it could tank the hyper economy which alone guarantees Trump’s re-election. Left out of all this is of course is a complete disregard for the health and wellbeing of the American people, but hey, collateral damage is to be expected.
Politics aside, what is the true situation? The coronavirus strain is a serious outbreak and is on the verge of being declared a worldwide pandemic. It seems to infect relatively easy, and so is spreading quickly, and it currently has a higher than expected death rate for such a virus. So far, it seems to kill elderly and immuno-compromised individuals. It should be treated seriously, and most countries certainly are.
For the US our response has been good to-date, (“Many are saying excellent, the best ever. Other epidemics? Not good, believe me.”). To-date 60 Americans have contracted the virus in the US (we have an additional 47 folks with coronavirus re-patriated from Wuhan and an Asian cruise ship). At the time of writing we have had six deaths. But we have a long way to go, and the epidemic turned pandemic will probably not hit its peak for some time yet. Trump has already started to take some additional protective steps such as travel restrictions on Iranians, and additional screening on visitors from South Korea and Italy. And he is keeping the pressure on for additional test kits and a rush program for a vaccine.
Trump has certainly done what is needed up till now. He has presided over a good response, has tried to keep panic down (good luck with that, mate, with the Dems and the media) and his decision-making capabilities augur well for any quick responses that will almost certainly be needed in the future. But our abilities as a country are far greater than that of a single President.
The Global Health Security Index currently lists us a Number 1 in the world for our preparations for an epidemic. This has come from years and years of knowledge and experience from fighting many and varied diseases over the years. Our robust capabilities at the Federal level, such as The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) and The National Institutes Of Health (NIH) are mirrored by smaller capabilities in each of our fifty states.
Is there any justification to the Dem criticism? After all, all US Federal politicians have a legislative oversight duty on the actions of the executive, the President, and some take this more seriously than others. To answer it is instructive to look back at the last time the US had a respiratory virus pandemic in 2009-10 with swine (H1N1/09) flu. This began in Mexico, swiftly spread to the US and in just one year infected 60 Million Americans with 13,000 dying. The current procedures used by the CDC were all in place then and were all activated by President Obama, as with Trump. What didn’t happen was the border with Mexico was not closed and the few cases in Mexico in January 2009 turned into a raging epidemic in the US beginning in March, 2009. In May, 2009 (an analogous period to that we are in today with coronavirus) over 13,000 swine flu infections were tallied by CDC, as opposed to the 62 for coronavirus we have today. Obama did not learn from this and still did not close the border to West African countries with Ebola outbreaks in 2014, but I digress.
The Murphys, DeLauros, Schumers and Pelosis of the world were all legislators then, and they were on President Obama’s ass 24/7, fulminating about how his obduracy had put us all in peril. Except, strangely enough, they didn’t for a Democrat President. This should tell you all you need to know about the Dems’ motivations for their sudden concern for our health.