Opinion | For Coronavirus, Trump Is Not the Wartime President We Need – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Rice is a contributing Opinion writer.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

“Donald Trump declared himself a “wartime president” just three weeks ago. On Twitter, he proclaimed “WE WILL WIN THIS WAR.” At last, he seemed to grasp the gravity of the Covid-19 crisis facing the world. Bluster aside, Mr. Trump is correct: This is war, the most consequential since World War II, and he is in charge.

Unfortunately, few of his actions display the leadership we need from a wartime commander in chief who is confronting a viral version of World War III.

The United States military develops detailed war plans for combat scenarios and exercises regularly to prepare for contingencies. The Defense Department gathers intelligence, scans the globe for impending threats, pre-positions forces and equipment, stockpiles supplies and trains its forces. Maintaining readiness is the military’s most prized prerequisite for battlefield success.

In the case of coronavirus, the Trump administration shelved the war plan, or pandemic “playbook,” prepared by the Obama administration. It disbanded the National Security Council office established to provide early warning and ensure preparedness, and disregarded the intelligence community’s warnings that a global pandemic was likely.”

Opinion | He Went to Jared – by Maureen Dowd – The New York Times

“. . . Now we have another pampered scion in the Oval, propped up by his daddy for half his life, accustomed to winging it and swaggering around. And he, too, is utterly unprepared to lead us through the storm. Like W., he is resorting to clinical states’ rights arguments, leaving the states to chaotically compete with one another and the federal government for precious medical equipment.

Donald Trump is trying to build a campaign message around his image as a wartime president. But as a commander in chief, Cadet Bone Spurs is bringing up the rear.

“I would leave it up to the governors,” Trump said Friday, when asked about his government’s sclerotic response. Trouble is, when you leave it to the governors, you have scenes like we did in Florida with the open beaches — not to mention a swath in the middle of the country that, as of Friday night, still had not ordered residents to stay home.

The Los Angeles Times reported that two months before the virus spread through Wuhan, the Trump administration halted a $200 million early-warning program to train scientists in China and elsewhere to deal with a pandemic. The name of the program? “PREDICT.”

It is said that nature abhors a vacuum, but this virus loves it.

At Thursday’s briefing, Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, who barely two weeks ago became the head of the administration’s supply-chain task force, added to the confusion when he defended the government’s decision to send the supplies governors are pleading for to the private sector first.

“I’m not here to disrupt a supply chain,” the admiral said.

Trump was elected to disrupt things. So disrupt.”

The Lost Month: How a Failure to Test Blinded the U.S. to Covid-19 – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Early on, the dozen federal officials charged with defending America against the coronavirus gathered day after day in the White House Situation Room, consumed by crises. They grappled with how to evacuate the United States consulate in Wuhan, China, ban Chinese travelers and extract Americans from the Diamond Princess and other cruise ships.

The members of the coronavirus task force typically devoted only five or 10 minutes, often at the end of contentious meetings, to talk about testing, several participants recalled. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, its leaders assured the others, had developed a diagnostic model that would be rolled out quickly as a first step.

But as the deadly virus spread from China with ferocity across the United States between late January and early March, large-scale testing of people who might have been infected did not happen — because of technical flaws, regulatory hurdles, business-as-usual bureaucracies and lack of leadership at multiple levels, according to interviews with more than 50 current and former public health officials, administration officials, senior scientists and company executives.

The result was a lost month, when the world’s richest country — armed with some of the most highly trained scientists and infectious disease specialists — squandered its best chance of containing the virus’s spread. Instead, Americans were left largely blind to the scale of a looming public health catastrophe.”

“. . . . The C.D.C. gave little thought to adopting the test being used by the W.H.O. The C.D.C.’s test was working in its own lab — still processing samples from states — which gave agency officials confidence. Dr. Anne Schuchat, the agency’s principal deputy director, would later say that the C.D.C. did not think “we needed somebody else’s test.”

And the German-designed W.H.O. test had not been through the American regulatory approval process, which would take time.”

“. . .  Even though researchers around the country quickly began creating tests that could diagnose Covid-19, many said they were hindered by the F.D.A.’s approval process. The new tests sat unused at labs around the country.

Stanford was one of them. Researchers at the world-renowned university had a working test by February, based on protocols published by the W.H.O. The organization had already delivered more than 250,000 of the German-designed tests to 70 laboratories around the world, and doctors at the Stanford lab wanted to be prepared for a pandemic.

“Even if it didn’t come, it would be better to be ready than not to be ready,” said Dr. Benjamin Pinsky, the lab’s medical director.

But in the face of what he called “relatively tight” rules at the F.D.A., Dr. Pinsky and his colleagues decided against even trying to win permission. The Stanford clinical lab would not begin testing coronavirus samples until early March, when Dr. Hahn finally relaxed the rules.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Thank you NYT: Michael D. Shear, Abby Goodnough, Sheila Kaplan, Sheri Fink, Katie Thomas and Noah Weiland. I have been frustrated, because I wanted this story to be front and center as the lead report in every day’s paper for the last month.
I cerainly hope you willl expand this story, and retell it. And do a similar deep dive into the shortate of Personal Protective Equipment and ventilators.
Trump is a genius at manipating your headlines. His lousy noise about quaratining NY, NJ and CT masterfully bumped this story from the lead story on line. Please learn to put Trump’s ugly noises below your real news stories.

Opinion | Trump to New York: Drop Dead –  -By Jennifer Senior The New York Times

By 

Opinion columnist

“So it’s essentially come to this: President Trump is treating each of our 50 states as individual contestants on “The Apprentice” — pitting them against one another for scarce resources, daring them to duke it out — rather than mobilizing a unified national response to a pandemic.

If that’s the case, this is the episode where New York loses. The coronavirus is whipping through the state, especially New York City, at a terrifying rate. We need personnel, ventilators and personal protective equipment, stat.

But Trump’s response has been the same as President Gerald Ford’s in 1975, when our city, faltering on the brink of insolvency, begged Washington for help and was brutally rebuffed, a moment forever enshrined in The Daily News’s headline “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.””

Trump Bets Business Will Answer Call to Fight Virus, but Strategy Bewilders Firms – The New York Times

“. . . .  There is plenty of volunteer cooperation, they say, and there is always the implicit threat of ordering mandatory measures if they do not. Mr. Trump, at the news briefing, suggested an ideological concern as well. “We’re a country not based on nationalizing our business,” he said.

At the briefing, Mr. Navarro said, “We’re getting what we need without putting the heavy hand of government down.”

In an interview, Mr. Navarro said the administration would not hesitate to use its powers in certain situations. For example, he said, some brokers had been hoarding supplies of masks in warehouses and trying to sell them at exorbitant prices.

“That’s a Defense Production Act action waiting to happen,” he said. “If anybody thinks they’re going to sit on urgently needed supplies and profiteer from this crisis, they’re going to answer to the full force of the Trump administration.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the heads of major corporations have lobbied the administration against using the act. They say the move could prove counterproductive, imposing red tape on companies precisely when they need flexibility to deal with closed borders and shuttered factories.

Mr. Trump and the director of his national economic council, Larry Kudlow, as well as Mr. Kushner, were persuaded by those arguments, administration officials said.”

Opinion | How Trump Is Worsening the Virus Now – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

“At a private New York meeting in October of 1940, William Knudsen made a desperate plea to the automobile industry’s top executives. Knudsen himself had been the president of General Motors until a few months earlier. But he had stepped down to help oversee military production at President Franklin Roosevelt’s request. The position paid $1 a year.

Knudsen told the executives that American military officials surveying the Nazis’ bombing of England had concluded that the country with the strongest airpower was going to win the war. And the United States was badly behind. So Roosevelt and his military advisers wanted the car companies to forget about making cars, Knudsen said. They needed to begin making warplanes.

It was a radical request. It also matched the urgency of the situation. The car executives said yes, and the overhaul of Detroit became crucial to winning the war.

The coronavirus is not an actual war, but it does threaten modern society and human life in ways that nothing has in decades. More than two million Americans could die. Many will do so alone, separated from their family and friends. Funerals will often be impossible. Stores, schools and entire neighborhoods are shutting down. In the second quarter of this year, which starts next week, forecasters predict that the economy could shrink at the most rapid rate since the Great Depression.

This is a moment that calls for the urgency that Roosevelt and Knudsen summoned in the fall of 1940 — when, it’s worth remembering, the attack on Pearl Harbor was still more than a year away.

President Trump, however, has chosen a different response.

He has repeatedly decided not to get out in front of the virus. Instead of taking aggressive steps that public-health experts were urging, he has moved slowly, presumably in the hope that things would somehow work out for the best. Only when it’s clear that they aren’t working for the best has he followed the advice that experts had been offering for weeks. He has then tried to rewrite recent history and claimed that his response had been aggressive from the start.”

Opinion | These Conservatives Knew Trump Would Be a Disaster in a Crisis – By Robert Saldin and Steven Teles – The New York Times

By Robert Saldin and 

Mr. Saldin and Mr. Teles are the co-authors of the forthcoming book “Never Trump: The Revolt of the Conservative Elites.”

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“In the blink of an eye, the essential nature of the American presidency seems to have changed. Only days ago most Republicans were cheering along to the president’s less than statesmanlike routine and happy to let him act as the chief culture warrior and judicial nominator in chief. But suddenly, the specter of Covid-19 has made owning the libs seem slightly less important and shined a bright light on the centrality of character to presidential leadership.

Even such fervid supporters of President Trump as Tucker Carlson have admitted that his management of his administration in this crisis has left something to be desired.

But there is one group of Republicans for whom the president’s performance under pressure has been entirely unsurprising — the oft-abused when not entirely neglected NeverTrumpers. Almost no one predicted that a global pandemic would be the test of President Trump’s mettle as a leader. But if you interviewed conservative critics of Trump as we did for a book, many of them emphasized precisely those aspects of the president’s character that have come to the fore in the last few weeks.

Many NeverTrumpers disliked what they saw as Mr. Trump’s violations of conservative orthodoxy, but what really cleaved them from their former friends who made peace with the president was their obsession with what they referred to as “character.” This concern was dismissed by most Republicans as moral preening or a Pollyannaish unwillingness to recognize the distinction between private morality and realpolitik.”

Opinion | 3 Rules for the Trump Pandemic – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

“So Donald Trump is now calling Covid-19 the “Chinese virus.” Of course he is: Racism and blaming other people for his own failures are the defining features of his presidency. But if we’re going to give it a nickname, much better to refer to it as the “Trump pandemic.”

True, the virus didn’t originate here. But the U.S. response to the threat has been catastrophically slow and inadequate, and the buck stops with Trump, who minimized the threat and discouraged action until just a few days ago.

Compare, for example, America’s handling of the coronavirus with that of South Korea. Both countries reported their first case on Jan. 20. But Korea moved quickly to implement widespread testing; it has used the data from that testing to guide social distancing and other containment measures; and the disease appears to be on the wane there.

In the U.S., by contrast, testing has barely begun — we’ve tested only 60,000 people compared with South Korea’s 290,000, even though we have six times its population, and the number of cases here appears to be skyrocketing.”

Opinion | No Stimulus Without Election Protection – By David Leonhardt- The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Daniel Acker/Reuters

“Congress will almost certainly pass a very large stimulus bill soon — as it should, because the economy is in crisis. But there is another looming crisis, in addition to the recession and the public health crisis, and it’s one that Congress should be taking as seriously as the economy.

Our usual methods for conducting elections may not work in November.

Yesterday’s postponed primary in Ohio, which is the subject of a legal fight, highlights the problems. Come November, people may still not be able to gather safely at polling places, and election workers — many of them elderly — may not be able to interact safely with hundreds of people. That’s terribly worrisome. As Seth Masket of the University of Denver has pointed out, elections are an essential institution in a democracy, much as grocery stores are.

Fortunately, House Democrats have the political leverage to fix the problem, even if President Trump and congressional Republicans don’t feel the same urgency. (Republicans, alas, have spent more time restricting voting rights in recent years than protecting them.)

Here’s what Democrats can do: Refuse to pass any big stimulus bill unless it includes provisions to ensure that the country can hold a presidential election this fall. That may sound like bare-knuckle politics, but preserving democracy calls for toughness.

Richard Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, put it well in a message to me on Tuesday:

Election bills are notoriously hard to get through Congress. And we don’t know when Congress will be able to meet again. The only way a congressionally mandated expansion of [voting access] for November’s elections is going to pass is if it is folded into one of the existing coronavirus bills needed to keep this country going during the crisis.

On Twitter, Stephen Wolf of Daily Kos Election made a historical analogy:

Fighting coronavirus will take war-like mobilization of govt resources. But even during the Civil War & WWII, we still held elections. It’s essential that Congress mandate & provide funding for every state to adopt universal vote-by-mail so we don’t have a political crisis too.

Editorial | Stop Saying That Everything Is Under Control. It Isn’t. – The New York Times

By 

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

Credit…Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“In 1941, with war tearing through Europe and Asia and America on the precipice of joining the conflict, President Franklin D. Roosevelt compelled and inspired industries and individuals to rally for the greater good. Food was rationed without rioting, and car plants all but stopped producing automobiles in favor of tanks and fuselages. By 1944, American factory workers were building nearly 100,000 warplanes a year — or about 11 per hour.

The United States is again faced with a crisis that calls for a national response, demanding a mobilization of resources that the free market or individual states cannot achieve on their own. The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 180,000 people around the globe, and claimed more than 7,000 lives already. Based on what they know about the virus so far, experts say that between two million and 200 million people could be infected in the coming weeks and months, in the United States alone. If the worst came to pass, as many as 1.7 million of our neighbors and loved ones could die. How many people are affected depends on the actions that we as a nation take right now.

Understandably, many American leaders have been focused on shoring up an economy that’s hemorrhaging money and trust. Many of the measures being advanced by Congress, like paid sick leave, are crucial. But the best hope for the economy, and the nation as a whole, is a strong public health response to the coronavirus.

Confusion has reigned, among health care professionals and laypeople alike, over when or whether to test patients, quarantine the exposed and isolate the sick — even over how worried to be. Part of the problem is a supply shortage that is already growing dire in some places. But another problem is the lack of consistent messages from leaders, President Trump in particular. For weeks now, clear statements — for example, that the worst is yet to come — have been undercut by blithe assurances that everything is under control.