First, we had the Chinese coronavirus, then the economic impact, now Monday morning quarterbacks, including Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and a peacock’s tail of critics saying President Trump’s organization is all wrong. Stop the presses – this is how our military responds, and it is right.
Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are sure they could do better, Clinton calling President Trump “diabolical” and “destructive,” Biden claiming “bizarre” statements (rather ironically) and “draconian cuts” (which do not exist), while Sanders mocks Trump as a “great scientist.”
Big criticisms focus on Trump’s White House response, placing Vice President Pence in charge, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar next in the chain, and CDC and NIH leadership below that.
As a matter of record, Trump initiated early border and travel restrictions, aggressive limits on the inflow of potential infections. His administration questioned and tested for symptoms at ports of entry, freed military bases for quarantine, brought diplomats home, and isolated suspect cases.
In addition to pressing for containment, Trump waived regulations to accelerate private-sector research, development, testing, and deployment of virus responses, including identification of an inoculation. He pushed availability of anti-viral medicines, diagnostic kit distribution, telephone hotlines, better statistical data to support evolving responses, and has stayed close to the public.
On the organizational front, he set up a task force, and – apparently the controversial part – put Vice President Pence in charge of the task force’s management, coordination, and public communications.
Media and Democratic response to these measures have been caustic and transparently political – at a time where unity of mission is needed. These responses are unforgivable. While the President and Vice President have sought to inform, prepare, calm, and coach the public, Democrats have sought to inflame, spread fear, encourage panic, and turn a mild virus into the Black Plague – pinning it on Trump.
Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who tore up the President’s State of the Union Speech on television, called Trumps’ organization a “weak attempt” to contain, condemning the effort as “meager, anemic” and “shameful” – as if the President wants more sick Americans. Her demagoguery is outsized, matched only by her personal hatred of the man. Her behavior is unbecoming of a House Speaker.
Democrat Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer wasted no time castigating Trump, calling his approach “towering and dangerous incompetence.” Democrat Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, using Democrat talkers, called Trump’s organization “frightening,” boldly claiming it will “cost lives.”
New York’s Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo, who last year celebrated legalizing infanticide, took issue with Trump’s humanity. He said Trump’s 8 billion dollar appropriation – intended to respond to the virus – was insufficient, “ludicrous” and “disconnected from reality.” Cuomo capped his “emergency” declaration with the words, “I’m not urging calm, I’m urging reality.”
Meantime, media personalities seem to hope coronavirus will unseat Trump in the absence of recession. They have let fly. The New York Times dubbed it “Trumpvirus,” while Time Magazine declared Trump’s organization “doomed from the start” and a “grave mistake.” Time’s digital outlet meantime pumps readers to subscribe to Time’s “daily coronavirus newsletter,” assuring a return.
All this begs the question. Whether mild – which it is – or the Black Plague, is the President’s organization and response correct? On January 30 – five weeks ago – the President appointed Vice President Pence to serve as a Commanding Officer (CO) for his Coronavirus Task Force, initially consisting of 12 persons, including HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who effectively became the Executive Officer (XO). The flow to various departmental officers includes “top officials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health” and Departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, and State.
Organizationally, this is precisely how a military unit would be structured, lines of authority, division of labor, and inputs from different pools of expertise coordinated through operational leaders – in their areas of expertise, fed up through the chain to an executive officer and commander. In this case, the commander reports to the actual Commander in Chief.
One might argue the President could have leaned on existing organizations, rather than form a new one, but the new one concentrates effort, prioritizes the issue, and makes clear his support. One might argue he could have appropriated resources earlier, but that is nonsensical – as the crisis was not foreseeable.
As it was, Trump acceded to Democrats’ “Christmas tree” bill, allowing big adds in a specific coronavirus supplemental. He has been ahead of the curve, not behind it – and as cooperative as conceivable.
As some quietly acknowledge, the President has so far managed coronavirus thoughtfully, effectively, and methodically. The roles of CO, XO, and departmental officers are filled with the right people. A vice president brings authority a secretary cannot, and an HHS Secretary is naturally first among equals, with CDC, NIH, and medical experts reporting through him.
Even the Associated Press grudgingly noted the Democrats’ politically motivated hysteria is overdone. Democrat attacks paint “a distorted picture,” and neither CDC nor NIH are “suffering from budget cuts,” as alleged. They point out Biden is “wrong to say the agencies’ money has been cut.” Moreover, “the public health system has a playbook to follow for pandemic preparation.”
Even outside groups, like the non-partisan “Trust for America’s Health,” credit the Administration’s response, noting “the CDC’s response has been excellent, as it has been in the past.” They acknowledge the President is getting the right information out, letting experts call the shots.
In short, panic and political blame may sell – but they are unwarranted. The truth is, President Trump’s task force, leadership organization, medical experts pool, advance and continued actions, resource requests and appropriations concessions sync with good operations – and our Nation’s immediate needs. This virus is not his doing; his precautions are already paying dividends.
Together, we will weather this storm. Americans do that, and well. On reflection, Monday morning quarterbacking by anti-Trump Democrats and crisis-crazed media is just embarrassing. It is self-serving and undignified. In an age of shameless behavior, criticizing a President, Vice President, Secretary of HHS, and leaders of CDC and NIH for doing the right thing – sets the bar to a new low.