Donald Trump has used the bully pulpit of the presidency to hold daily command performances to disseminate his own revisionist version of reality during the coronavirus pandemic.
Rather than use that unpaid free media to unite the country and urge the nation to adhere to the recommendations of medical experts to stay at home until yet-to-be-developed treatments or vaccines for the COVID-19 virus are widely available, Trump has instead treated these so-called press briefings as occasions to try to erase the memory of his early inactions against the pandemic – when swift measures could have lessened its severity and reduced the mounting death toll — and bolster his campaign for a second term in office.
He’s also used his semi-coherent rants to spread misinformation about unproven drugs that he claims “could” help treat infected patients at substantial risk and to inflate his claims of the scope of the current federal response to the pandemic, particularly when it comes to the availability of testing.
“Anybody that wants a test can get a test,” Trump said as early as March 6th, clearly contradicting the reality that doctors and patients on the ground were actually facing then and are still facing to this day.
At the same time that the president has bragged about his achievements in fighting the pandemic, he has also denied any real responsibility for the gritty details of the actual containment of the disease, preferring instead to lament the loss of the thriving economy that the virus sent into a sudden tailspin and to focus on reopening businesses, human safety and scientific consensus be damned.
Trump has tried to off-load testing responsibility to state governors while continuing to indulge his fantasy that a sufficient number of tests are available to administer to everyone who needs one while claiming that those who say otherwise are “partisan voices are trying to politicize the issue of testing.”
Now Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) has thrown Trump’s falsities back in his face, bluntly stating during an appearance on CNN‘s State of the Union this morning that his state, like so many others, does not have the COVID-19 testing capabilities that it needs and that the president’s comments to the contrary border on psychological impairment.
“That’s just delusional to be making statements like that,” Governor Northam aptly interpreted the president’s statement from his Saturday press conference.
Northam told CNN host Jake Tapper that Virginia’s state authorities have been fighting and scrounging “every day” for personal protective equipment and for testing.
It’s not a straightforward test. We don’t even have enough swabs believe it or not,” Northam said incredulously.
The Democratic Virginia governor has been a convenient foil for the president to use to distract his right-wing base from the failures of his own coronavirus response failures as a target for wild accusations of attempting to limit 2nd Amendment gun rights because of the governor’s signing popular common-sense gun regulations into law recently.
Trump’s response to the increased background checks, handgun limits, and “red-flag” alerts the state passed? An unprecedented call for insurrection by a sitting president to the citizens of a state.
“I would say liberate Virginia when that kind of thing happens,” Trump said at his briefing.
Northam reacted strongly against what he accurately described as the president’s deplorable “divisiveness.”
“Our president has been unable to deliver on tests, now he has chosen to focus on protests, and this is not the time for protests,” Northam told Tapper. “This is not the time for divisiveness. This is time for leadership that will stand up and provide empathy, that will understand what’s going on in this country of ours with this pandemic, it’s the time of truth, and it’s time to bring people together.”
Unfortunately, we are saddled with a president for whom truth and unity are like garlic and silver bullets to a vampire and for whom empathy is seen as a pitiful weakness of personality.
You can watch a clip of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on CNN‘s State of the Union in the video excerpt below.
Gov. Ralph Northam on President Trump's call to "liberate" Virginia: "This is not the time for protests, this is not the time for divisiveness. This is time for leadership that will stand up and provide empathy … it's the time for truth" #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/jMhewJFVwH
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) April 19, 2020
Original reporting by Rebecca Klar 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.