My Turn: Feb. 7: A day to remember on Nov. 3

Mik Muller, Greenfield Recorder. Published September 13, 2020

Our president, Donald Trump, said to Bob Woodward, on tape, way back on Feb. 7, “this [coronavirus] is deadly stuff.”

From the transcript of the tape: “It goes through air, Bob. That’s always tougher than the touch. The touch, you don’t have to touch things, right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus. This is more deadly. This is 5 percent versus 1 percent, and less than 1 percent. So this is deadly stuff.”

He said this, on tape, on Feb. 7 of this year, after spending the previous two years dismantling our ability to respond to global pandemics. Firing people. Defunding departments. For two years. Then he admits, on tape, on Feb. 7, that the virus is deadly, and then does nothing but talk about how it will simply go away. “Like a miracle, it will just go away.”

Is that how pandemics work? No.

In response to the Feb. 7 interview coming to light this week, Trump said, “The fact is, I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country. And I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic, as you say, and certainly I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy. We want to show confidence. We want to show strength.”

The president is not our “cheerleader.” He’s our president, and his job is to protect us and provide for the general welfare.

He failed us by downplaying something he knew was deadly, and then doing nothing about it. He did not lead. He crippled us, then sat on his hands, blaming state governors (especially Democratic ones) and China.

On March 13, Trump finally declares a state of emergency. Among all the various promises of action, he had put his son-in-law Jared Kushner in charge of the testing department. What happened to that? The project simply faded away. Dust in the wind. No mention of it anywhere. Jared, where’s my test?

Well, less testing makes for lower numbers, of course. Donald Trump doesn’t want to depress the markets, and thus his chances of reelection. Was the pandemic even mentioned at the Republican convention? Only once ... by Melania.

POLITICO reported this week that President Trump was reluctant to make the declaration on March 13 for fear of what it will do to the country, and in particular, the inevitable closing of schools. “Trump’s aides will not give the President a final verdict [about whether to declare a national emergency] until Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, talks to relevant parties and presents his findings to the President.”

Turns out Kushner reached out to his brother’s wife’s father, Dr. Kurt Kloss, who subsequently took the issue to a Facebook group of emergency room doctors, posting: “If you were in charge of the Federal response to the Pandemic what would your recommendations be?”

So ... that’s the chad our country was hanging by. Advice from Trump’s son-in-law’s brother’s wife’s father. Not the phalanx of experts who work for our government. Not the departments that had been set up years earlier specifically for this eventuality. Sure, the Facebook group had a membership of over 20,000 medical professionals, but ... really? After gutting our ability to respond at the federal level, the administration resorts to a Facebook group.

That’s how seriously he took it then, and still does to today.

In Bob Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the administration’s top infectious disease expert, is quoted telling others Trump’s leadership was “rudderless” and that “his attention span is like a minus number. His sole purpose is to get reelected.”

Michael Cohn this week said, “Donald Trump cares for no one or anything other than himself. He doesn’t care if your family member dies as long as it’s not him. He doesn’t care about anything other than himself and this election, and he is willing to sacrifice your life so he has four more years.”

Remember that on Nov. 3, Election Day.

Tell you what, just like Marine Corps Generals James Mattis, John Kelly and John Allen; Navy Admirals Mike Mullen, William McRaven and James Stavridis; Air Force Generals Richard Myers and Mike Hayden; Army Generals Martin Dempsey and Raymond A. “Tony” Thomas; and former Defense Secretaries Ash Carter, William Perry, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel, I can’t wait for this national nightmare to be over.

Mik Muller lives in Greenfield.