Given what the Woodward book confirms, with Trump’s own recorded words, Americans might want to note — because you don’t have enough to be outraged about yet, right? — its connection to the nation’s lack of a diagnostic testing plan as an early check on the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Other reporting, and Trump’s public statements, support the conclusion that the White House scrapped a national testing plan because such a plan would conflict with Trump’s admitted efforts to downplay the threat the virus posed.
If you have not read this Vanity Fair investigative report by Katherine Eban on the Kushner task force’s plan to put a testing program in place — a plan Kushner decided to scrap — make a point of it.
Here’s a key passage (the buried lede) from the story:
By early April, some who worked on the plan were given the strong impression that it would soon be shared with President Trump and announced by the White House. The plan, though imperfect, was a starting point. Simply working together as a nation on it “would have put us in a fundamentally different place,” said the participant.
But the effort ran headlong into shifting sentiment at the White House. Trusting his vaunted political instincts, President Trump had been downplaying concerns about the virus and spreading misinformation about it — efforts that were soon amplified by Republican elected officials and right-wing media figures. Worried about the stock market and his reelection prospects, Trump also feared that more testing would only lead to higher case counts and more bad publicity.
Against that background, the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force.
And it gets worse. The scrapping of the plan moved into the sphere of the sinister. Again, quoting Vanity Fair:
Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.
So there’s a direct connection between Trump’s intentional downplaying of the public health threat and the political decision to scrap a national testing plan that, launched early (March or April), as in other countries, would have helped us slow community spread. Instead, here we are, with 191,000 deaths, flu season coming, and still no national plan.
Trump should resign (and Kushner with him) but, of course, he won’t. For our own good and the good of the nation, Americans must have a plan of our own, and that is this — vote for Biden-Harris in huge numbers, landslide numbers. We must leave no doubt.