OK. So now it turns out that when Mike Pence started talking about four million tests, he didn’t mean they’d be administered. He just meant they’d be procured.
Monday night, ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked him: You said in early March there’d be four million tests by the next week. Now here it is six, seven weeks later, and you’re saying we’re just now getting them. “John, I appreciate the question, but it represents a misunderstanding on your part, and frankly a lot of people in the public’s part,” Pence said.
Let’s stop right there for a minute. Reproducing the words in cold type is one thing. But you really need to watch this moment. Specifically, you need to focus on Donald Trump’s face as Pence delivers that little lecture, at :48 seconds in:
Trump is looking out toward the reporters, presumably at Karl, and smirking. Good dog, Mikey; just what you’re up here to do. And you, Karl, you fake news bloodsucker, boy, did you get yours.
It’s just two or three seconds, but those two or three seconds say everything. Millions infected, thousands dying; the topic at hand is his most colossal failure in this whole nightmare, a failure that has caused far more misery than this nation needed to have suffered. And he sees it as an occasion to smirk at a journalist.
Pence continued: “...about the difference between having a test versus the ability to actually process the test.” Eventually, Karl was able to follow up: “So when you said four million tests seven weeks ago, you were just talking about the tests being sent out, not actually being completed? I’m a little confused.”
“John, I think, precisely correct.”
Are you a schoolteacher or a college professor? I have an idea for you. Next semester, or whenever we have regular school again, prepare a test for your students, but don’t give it to them. Then, when the semester ends, and you don’t have enough results on which to hand out grades, and the principal or the dean asks you, “So, you prepared the tests, but didn’t administer them, is that right? I’m a little confused.” You should say: “Precisely correct!”
It’s just staggering that they can stand up there and keep spinning this. The Washington Post reports Tuesday morning that Trump was warned not once or twice or three times but repeatedly over January and February in the Presidential Daily Brief that this was deadly serious.
He’s not the first Republican president to have a problem with a PDB. You’ll recall that George W. Bush blew off the PDB of August 6, 2001 that warned about a coming terrorist attack on U.S. soil conducted by Osama bin Laden. Bush ignored one briefing. Trump ignored several. Because of course he “routinely skips reading the PDB and has at times shown little patience for even the oral summary he takes two or three times per week,” as the Post put it.
We’ve known that Trump spent those first crucial weeks wishing the virus away. We didn’t know that he did it in the face of repeated warnings. From the intelligence community. But of course, they’re just deep-staters, so why should he have listened?
We are deep into Wonderland, and with the election coming, we’re just going to get deeper and deeper. A meme is developing now on the right that this isn’t so bad. Tucker Carlson said it Monday night: “The virus just isn’t nearly as deadly as we thought it was, all of us, including on this show. Everybody thought it was, but it turned out not to be.”
I’m seeing it pop up on Twitter and Facebook. See, they say; a few weeks ago, they were saying two million deaths. Now, we’re looking at a fraction of that. You lib fake news Trump haters tried to blow this up into a huge catastrophe.
There’s an obvious response to this, but you have to stop and think for seven seconds and connect a couple dots. Those projections were real at the time—many of them were being cited by the White House that’s mocking them now. They were based on us not doing anything. Now the projections are lower. But they’re lower precisely because we’re staying indoors.
And how much lower would the projections—and actual numbers—have been if we’d had a president who could read a short briefing paper and who did the things that obviously needed to be done in January and February? He should have spent January ensuring that manufacturers were making millions of tests—and that the federal government was distributing them adequately around the country. How different would this crisis be if 20 million tests had been out there ready to deploy by early February?
Also in January, he needed to be making sure that we had ventilators and PPE. Actually, that should have been in place on a standing basis. And then, in February, he should have made Congress appropriate the money to hire an army of contact tracers. This is yet another epic disaster that is going to result in needless death. NPR reported Tuesday morning that experts think we need 180,000 contact tracers working in this country. Right now, we have 7,500. Some states are trying, but what’s really needed is for Congress to spend the money.
But hey—it’s not as bad as we thought. And when the lapdog veep smacks down a fake newser, that’s a big W. We could have had 40 million test kits out there right now, and something like 180,000 contact tracers. Instead we have four million (finally) and 7,500. But the guy from CNN got put in his place, and that’s what really matters.