“The Blame Game.” (With apologies to Shirley Ellis.)
“Trump! Trump, Trump bo-bump, bonana fanna fo fump, fee fi mo mump, Trump!
Virus! Virus, Virus. bo-birus bonana fanna fo firus, fee fi mo mirus, Virus!”
“Come on ev’rybody, I say now let’s play a game
I betcha Trump shirks responsibility for his own blame.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci stated the obvious today while speaking with Jake Tapper on CNN‘s State of the Union this Easter morning.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases admitted that many lives could have been saved if the federal government had instituted social distancing and stay at home orders in February when the COVID-19 virus first began spreading across America.
Dr. Fauci’s acknowledgment comes on the day after a devastating indictment of the Trump administration’s stalling and inaction — in the face of a series of increasingly dire alarms sent his way by the pandemic experts across numerous government departments — was published in The New York Times yesterday.
The Times article details both the clear recommendations for a lightning-fast federal response to the encroaching crisis and the severe pushback those calls received from the highest levels of the administration and the president himself who was apparently more concerned about the damage the economic impact of the necessary restrictions on social interactions would have on his re-election possibilities than on the eventual body count that the coronavirus could cause.
Dr. Fauci confirmed that he and other infectious disease experts had determined as early as February 21st that the president would need to order aggressive mitigation measures in order to slow the spread of the pandemic in this country. For the record, that was two days before Trump said of the coronavirus: “We have it very much under control in this country.”
The nation’s leading infectious disease specialist was sanguine about the lack of response his initial warnings generated, preferring to look forward rather than dwell on the disastrous failures of the past .
“As I have said many times, we look at it from a pure health standpoint,” Fauci said. “We make a recommendation. Often, the recommendation is taken. Sometimes, it’s not. It is what it is. We are where we are right now.”
“You could logically say, that if you had a process that was ongoing, and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives,” he added. “Obviously, no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those kinds of decisions is complicated,” he said. “I mean, obviously, if we had, right from the very beginning, shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then.”
Don’t expect Donald Trump — who has established himself as the polar opposite of President Harry Truman who famously placed a sign on his desk proclaiming “The buck stops here” — to acknowledge his own failure to respond with the needed urgency. His slogan, yet to be placed on his Oval Office desk, is his reprehensible statement: “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
Dr. Fauci is likely not unaware of the president’s vindictiveness and inability to endure the slightest criticism so he offered a few factors that made America’s ability to respond to the pandemic more complicated than that of other smaller countries that were able to quickly minimize the effects of the spreading contagion — noting that “where we are right now is the result of a number of factors,” including the size and diversity of the United States.
“I think it’s a little bit unfair to compare us to South Korea, where they had an outbreak in Daegu, and they had the capability of immediately, essentially, shutting it off completely in a way that we may not have been able to do in this country,” he said. “So, obviously it would have been nice if we had a better head start, but I don’t think you could say that we are where we are right now because of one factor.”
Hopefully, that qualification of his earlier comments will keep Dr. Fauci safe from being sidelined by a president who makes a habit of banishing anyone who begins to eclipse him in positive media coverage. With his status as one of the few people who attends Trump’s frequent pandemic press briefings who speaks from a position of credibility, Fauci is an indispensable resource for the American people as he describes the more realistic vision of the near future to leaven Trump’s own optimistic and self-serving fantasies.
Meanwhile, you can check the president’s Twitter feed to see who Trump has chosen to pick in his own version of “The Blame Game” this particular hour. Congressional Democrats? State Governors? China? You can be sure it will be anyone but himself.
You can see a clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci on CNN‘s State of the Union in the video excerpt below.
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) April 12, 2020
Original reporting by Justin Wise at The Hill.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.