Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg bought a three-minute ad that aired last night in prime time and sought to sow distrust of President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus challenge. The ad is entitled “Leadership in Crisis.”

Bloomberg doesn’t mention President Trump by name, but the implication is clear.

Bloomberg is standing in front of an American flag in a setting that looks suspiciously like the Oval Office. Bloomberg says on the ad:

As the former mayor of New York City, I know it is critical that the federal government work in close partnership with state and local leaders who administer services and deploy first responders. That requires putting politics and partisanship aside,” he said in the address.

Remarkably, he uttered the last sentence with a straight face.

As he tried to undermine the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, he also said, without a hint irony, that when confronting such a challenge:

Trust is essential.

What would Bloomberg do?

Bloomberg promises he would “marshal facts and expertise to confront the problem.” He would assemble experts and allow them to work “free of political interference.” I feel safer already.

President Trump is working with the same experts at the same national institutions that Bloomberg would use. I’d like to know on what evidence Bloomberg bases the insinuation that national health officials are being muzzled for political reasons. This has, however, predictably, become a talking point in some circles.

President Trump imposed travel restrictions early on, in January, when the virus was largely in China. It was an important measure that likely saved a lot of lives. Trump was called a racist for doing it. Joe Biden said the measure was caused by Trump’s “hysteria and xenophobia — hysterical xenophobia — and fearmongering.”

 I can imagine the old Mike Bloomberg doing the same thing Trump did: imposing travel restrictions to make us safer from the virus. I am not so sure that the new, constantly apologizing Mike Bloomberg would have the guts to do that.

Holman Jenkins of the Wall Street Journal had a must-read column about the role of panic in a situation such as our current one. It was headlined “Fear Itself is the Biggest Coronavirus Danger.”

Spreading fear is shameful. If anyone has helpful ideas, I bet the administration is open them. That’s not exactly what Mr. Bloomberg offered in his “address” from a pretend Oval Office.  

Bloomberg, apparently, doesn’t mind peddling fear, no matter the potential harm, to bring himself closer to the prize–the White House–he has long wanted.