As the coronavirus outbreak begins to reach its zenith, it remains unclear whether the measures taken to stem its tide will prove sufficient, insufficient, or an overreaction. What is certain, however, is that a number of individuals and entities have behaved shamefully and demonstrated no capacity for leadership or usefulness in this moment.
Nancy Pelosi: Gone are the mythologies that Nancy Pelosi was a pragmatic liberal voice of reason among the otherwise polarizing American Left, honed after years of paying her dues to the Democratic Party, as the mother of five dutifully ascended the party’s cursus honorum.
It does not matter whether her political and ethical decline was a result of her deep pathological hatred of Donald Trump. Who cares that her paranoia arose over the so-called “Squad” that might align with socialist Bernie Sanders to mesmerize Democrats to march over the cliff into McGovern-like oblivion? All concede that very few octogenarians have the stamina and clarity to put in the 16-hour work-days and transcontinental travel required by a Speaker of the House.
Instead, all that matters is that for a nation in extremis she is now puerile, even unhinged—and increasingly dangerous.
In retrospect, the public will remember how in fear and confusion she reversed course to spearhead impeachment, outsourced the task in the House of Representatives to its most incompetent and perfidious members—Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)—and wasted weeks of the country’s precious energy and time as it was on the cusp of an epidemic.
Such a crazy juxtaposition is not just politics or hypocrisy—it’s insanity. The night before an impeached Trump was acquitted in the Senate, and five days after Trump had controversially stopped incoming Chinese visitors, Pelosi tore up his State of the Union address before a national television audience, a level of spiteful vitriol not seen in the U.S. Congress since the years leading up to the Civil War.
When the Congress finally agreed to call a truce and pass a bipartisan “rescue bill” to stave off a depression and deliver some relief to millions of unemployed, Pelosi single-handedly delayed passage to insert irrelevant progressive treats into the authorization—until she was reprimanded by her own party to cease and desist.
She is now, in the middle of an epidemic, insanely talking about a “truth” impeachment-light commission to investigate Trump. She is absolutely clueless of the nihilistic circus that would ensue when her own previous on-the-record statements, the parasitic investment practices of U.S. senators of both parties, the bizarre behavior of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, the empty January braggadocio of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Joe Biden’s smearing of the Trump travel ban would be fully aired.
Does she have any idea that by forcing Trump to “own” the virus—predicated on the notion of trusting in bleak but widely criticized Armageddon modeling—she is greenlighting Trump to take credit for the response, especially if coronavirus proves in the end comparable to the 60 million infected, roughly 1 million hospitalized, and 15,000-60,000 dead in the prior influenza epidemics of 2009 or 2017?
It is difficult to find one thing Pelosi has said or done that has not made the country worse off since the virus officially hit our shores in late January.
The Media: Watching the media deal with the daily White House briefings reminds the country that we have never had journalism of this low character before—not in the acrimony over the Founding, not in the furor during the Civil War, not even in the age of yellow journalism at the turn of the 20th century.
Reporters do not wish to transmit knowledge to the public that might aid in confronting the virus. They do not even wish to clarify murky statements from public officials to ensure Americans know exactly what the government wants them to do.
Instead, journalists during White House briefings fixate on two agendas.
One is to goad the president into saying something sloppy, by repeatedly suggesting that in reacting to the virus, he was in error, that he is cruel and heartless, or that he is dangerous. That gotcha obsession explains why the media can call Trump a xenophobe and racist for issuing a travel ban against China—contrary to the earlier advice of WHO, the Centers for Disease Control, the media, and the entire Democratic Party hierarchy—then silently support it. It explains why they then use doctored Chinese data and propaganda from the Chinese Communist Party to convince Americans that China—a nation that lied about the origins, spread, and nature of the virus—is admirably doing a better job in containing the virus than is their own country. Even the media cannot keep straight their own anti-Trump gymnastics.
If evidence convinces Trump to let the public know that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are efficacious in treating patients infected with coronavirus, then reporters will seek to persuade Americans that such off-label uses have no utility and are dangerous—even if they have to stoop to find some nut who drank fish-tank cleaner, clearly marked unfit for human consumption, to argue that a nonpotable chloroquine derivative cleaning agent provides proof of “Dr.” Trump’s deadly ignorance.
But the White House press obsesses over a second agenda, too. It must always prove that previously respected figures like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, once embraced by the liberal media in their pre-Trump days, either are in revolt against their doltish boss or brain-washed into obsequious enslavement to the president. Often the media advances both antithetical scenarios near simultaneously.
The third rail for the media is that Fauci and Birx are empirical and sound mostly politically disinterested. They seek to provide Trump with scientific data about the virus to balance his incoming streams of financial, economic, military, and cultural information.
When Trump accepts their advice over objections from other advisors with competing national concerns, the two feel it was for the good of the country. When he demurs, they press their arguments as advocates of public health. And when they rarely lose an argument the two concede the president has to balance dozens of existential concerns.
In other words, it would be hard, for anyone other than the current press corps, on Monday to paint Fauci and Birx as frustrated scientists at the mercy of a moron who refuses to listen to science, while on Tuesday writing off both as Trump toadies who have joined the forces of darkness.
But that is currently the schizophrenic state of the American media. The only constant is that whatever Trump advocated, they are against, even if lives are at stake. And whatever Trump policy seems to be working for the good of the country, they either deny or ignore it.
Another irony: While the current media is the logical culmination of the liberal biases of the more polite leftwing domination of network and print media of the late twentieth century, it is now also far more vulnerable to exposure and ridicule. After all, it was progressive Silicon Valley’s creation of the Internet website and social media that have allowed truth to emerge past even media filters, truth that has largely exposed the media as incompetent, meanspirited, and increasingly irrelevant.
Joe Biden: The virus shutdown was first seen as providing a necessary respite for the 77-year-old former vice president to go home, rest up, and recuperate after an exhausting summer, fall, and winter of campaigning—an ordeal that supposedly had explained Biden’s increasing flubs and gaffes.
Indeed, when the shutdown first began, a rested Biden, coming off a well enough debate performance against Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), was to broadcast daily out of his home. In informal fireside chat fashion, good ol’ Joe from Scranton would offer “here’s the deal” homilies and “point one, point two, point something or other” commentaries on the virus and Trump’s inadequate response to it.
But what followed was an ungodly disaster, as if the problem all along never was Biden’s weariness, but Biden himself. A rested Biden’s botched commentaries only convinced observers that a President Biden at this moment would be a veritable catastrophe. Biden seemed more confused from his home than he was on the campaign stump. He tried reading from a teleprompter script, and then talking ex tempore, and then both, and found he could do neither.
After blasting Trump as a xenophobe and racist for the January 31 travel ban, Biden hemmed and hawed and finally conceded he agreed with the ban. His staff claimed his xenophobic/racist allegations were in connection to Trump’s use of “Chinese virus”—a rubric first institutionalized probably by CNN. Yet Trump used that terminology only after, not before, Biden’s smear. Now Biden apparently is trying to argue that Trump should have issued the once “racist” and “xenophobic” ban even earlier—as Biden its former critic supposedly would have done. Once Biden decided he had to be against everything Trump was for, and once Trump was for most things that the so-called experts thought best, then Biden inevitably was in Pavlovian fashion against what was good for the country.
The truth is that Biden cannot find much to disagree with, given that most Democrats—Pelosi and DeBlasio, especially—were playing down the severity of the virus, as was Anthony Fauci himself in January.
Anytime Biden faulted Trump for belated responses, it was easy for Biden’s opponents to show that almost no one but Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in early January was alarmed about the impending danger (and smeared by the Left for his warnings), and even easier given that Trump’s travel ban met fierce opposition as not merely racist but unnecessary and exaggerated.
Biden earlier also had promised a diversity vice president and is now wedded to that commitment. But the only Democrat in the present crisis who is winning mainstream media acclaim is Governor Andrew Cuomo, despite the paradox that he was also once exaggerating his own readiness for the virus and bragging about the openness of New York to the world. So far, he governs a state with the greatest numbers of virus cases as well as deaths and per capita fatality rates—facts which according to the blame—game logic of the Left are political fodder.
Nonetheless, Cuomo is being touted both as the far more competitive candidate in a crisis than the fumbling Biden, and yet he will prove almost impossible to nominate given Biden’s long campaign and delegate lead. The best squaring of that circle in the eyes of Democrat politicos would be to have Cuomo as the vice-presidential nominee on the ticket. He could rectify some of Biden’s gaffing, and do most of the fall campaigning, while with a wink and nod reassuring voters that he would likely have to step in for a President Biden if the latter’s present disturbing lapses continue.
Now that option seems less likely given Biden’s earlier politically correct grandstanding of promising a diversity vice-presidential pick without a clue of who such a person might be.
For now, the media, Pelosi, and Biden, along with the Left in general, wish to perpetuate a sense of viral Armageddon to make it politically impossible for Trump to initiate a graduated plan of returning America to work. Their hope is for a summer and fall of continued lockdown, a near depression rather than a mere recession, and enough public furor to end Trump in November—while hoping that a sudden post-election end to the lockdown will allow the natural recovery of Trump’s booming economy on their watch in 2021.
Missing in all these calculations is empathy for those who are ill and the losses that such macabre expectations certainly entail. Also absent is a sense of the irony that, by unfairly scapegoating Trump in hours of darkness, they are ensuring that in the upcoming dawn, he will be credited by their same logic with owning what will likely be an impressive U.S. response to suppressing the virus and reviving the economy.