Even by the standards of today, the politicized reaction to coronavirus is disgusting. It’s a new low in an era of almost daily new lows.
Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement yesterday. “Lives are at stake—this is not the time for name-calling or playing politics," they said (before including a sly dig that the President will try to misuse the funds Congress appropriates).
This is rich from Schumer, who has repeatedly accused the administration of “towering and dangerous incompetence” in handling the coronavirus threat.
And here’s Pelosi describing her conversation with Vice President Mike Pence, who is coordinating the administration’s response to the coronavirus:
"I expressed to him the concern that I had of his being in this position —while I look forward to working with him — about his when he was governor of Indiana slashing the public health budget and having some clinics, especially a Planned Parenthood clinic, close which was the only place in that county where you could get tested for HIV and AIDS."
Meanwhile, America’s sweetheart, Senator Elizabeth Warren, introduced legislation to “transfer all funding for @realDonaldTrump’s racist border wall” to dealing with coronavirus.
An emerging meme (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez notably has employed it) is that Republicans don’t believe in science, which, if true, would be a decided disadvantage in confronting a medical crisis.
And then there is the media.
CNN was outraged by what it saw as the “lack of diversity” in the Trump response (there was only one woman on stage when Trump held his press conference). “Let’s Call It Trumpvirus,” Gail Collins wrote in the New York Times. Mike Pence, has been lambasted because, while Governor of Indiana, he opposed clean needle exchanged because he thought this encouraged drug use.
This isn’t a serious response. It’s a tantrum.
On a more helpful note, Rich Lowry of National Review wrote in his Politico column that the administration should not try to play down the seriousness of the situation. The administration risks looking complacent.
There were a few cringe-worthy moments in the President’s presser on coronavirus. He took the bait and verbally fought back against Pelosi and Schumer. It might have been better if he’d said something like, “I refuse to politicize this,” and returned to the issue at hand.
George Bush probably would have said something like that. Of course being gentlemanly bought Bush absolutely no good will from the left. But in this particular instance one might wish the President had risen above it. Still, presser style is not the main consideration here.
Science has advanced since the 1918 flu epidemic, as Continetti pointed out in his column on “the first postmodern pandemic.” We do have many advantages this time around. As my colleague Julie Gunlock advised, “Don’t panic, prepare.”
And the Wall Street Journal editorial board has an excellent suggestion:
Maybe we should quarantine Capitol Hill until the crisis passes.