Trump held a rare press conference yesterday in the White House briefing room to downplay the growing coronavirus pandemic and, as usual, he made the situation worse and made presser all about himself. In response to the outbreak, the stock market dropped more than 2,000 points in three days, which Trump blamed on the mainstream media–for overstating the seriousness of the virus. In any situation where Trump looks bad, he always searches for a way to turn it into a “so unfair” pity party and place the blame on anyone else but him. Sure, people will die from the virus, blah blah blah, but we must protect the stock market at all costs! Why are the Democrats screwing me?
Trump’s solution to the looming pandemic was to put Vice President Mike Pence, a fundamentalist Christian, in charge of the national medical response. Pence is well known for his disbelief in science, and for fostering a local HIV epidemic while governor of Indiana, as well as claiming that cigarettes don’t cause cancer. So perhaps our national plan to combat the epidemic will be to form prayer circles.
No wonder the press conference was deemed a disaster by the media. Doctor Ezekiel Emanuel of the World Health Organization responded to Trump’s press conference: “I found most of what he said incoherent.”
At the exact moment Trump was talking, the Center for Disease Control announced that the first US coronavirus case of “unknown origin” had been confirmed in Northern California, meaning doctors had no idea how the person contracted the virus. The patient had not been overseas nor around anyone known to have the virus, and this could be a sign that the disease is spreading in ways we don’t yet understand. It turns out that only a very small number of people have been tested for coronavirus in the US because there aren’t many test kits available yet, and some of them have been faulty. Meanwhile South Korea went on an aggressive testing spree and found hundreds of new cases of the virus. So it could be that the US has a bigger problem than it believes, and we won’t know until we do a lot more testing of people with flu symptoms.
We are likely seeing the first instance in the Trump presidency of a crisis not created by Trump himself that will overwhelm the sheer incompetence of his hollowed-out administration. Nothing about this inspires confidence, which is the same message the stock market has been making.
It’s worth bringing attention to a smaller story concerning radical Republican Rep from California Devin Nunes, who launched a number of high-profile lawsuits over the past year including suits against Twitter parody accounts that mocked Nunes. Legal work is expensive (duh) and it’s not clear how Nunes is paying for all of these presumably costly suits. His local paper, the Freso Bee, reports that a non-profit watchdog group has filed a complaint alleging that Nunes appears to be in “blatant violation of House rules,” because he hasn’t disclosed how the legal help is being paid for, and hasn’t filed a “Legal Expense Fund” with the Office of Congressional Ethics detailing his legal fees. Watch this story–it’s smelling like a scandal.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”