Sunday, January 03, 2021

Winning Too Much

You may remember in mid-November we learned

More than 130 Secret Service officers who help protect the White House and the president when he travels have recently been ordered to isolate or quarantine because they tested positive for the coronavirus or had close contact with infected co-workers, according to three people familiar with agency staffing.

The spread of the coronavirus — which has sidelined roughly 10 percent of the agency’s core security team — is believed to be partly linked to campaign rallies that President Trump held in the weeks before the Nov. 3 election, according to the people who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the situation.

In all, roughly 300 Secret Service officers and agents have had to isolate or quarantine since March because they were infected or exposed to infected colleagues, according to two people with knowledge of the figures.

That's only one of the reasons Matt Stoller is misleading- as pertains to the President- when, in slamming New York governor Cuomo, he claims "when Trump costs lives through incompetence it's fascism; when Cuomo does it it's 'frustrating.'"  Five New York Times reporters explain

The decision to run the government’s response out of the West Wing was made in the early days of the pandemic. The idea was to break down barriers between disparate agencies, assemble public health expertise and encourage quick and coordinated decision-making.

It did not work out like that, and by fall the consequences were clear.

Mr. Trump had always tolerated if not encouraged clashes among subordinates, a tendency that in this case led only to policy paralysis, confusion about who was in charge and a lack of a clear, consistent message about how to reduce the risks from the pandemic.

Keeping decision-making power close to him was another Trump trait, but in this case it also elevated the myriad choices facing the administration to the presidential level, bogging the process down in infighting, raising the political stakes and encouraging aides to jockey for favor with Mr. Trump.

The result at times was a systemwide failure that extended well beyond the president.

In terms of the President's primary interest- reelection- the only "failure" was a delay of about a few weeks in the announcement that a drug company was submitting for approval a vaccine to prevent Covid-19. The NYT five continue

In an Oval Office meeting with senior health officials on Sept. 24, the president made explicit what he had long implied: He wanted a vaccine before the election, according to three people who witnessed his demand.....

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the scientific leader of Operation Warp Speed, said the president never asked him to deliver a vaccine on a specific timetable. But he said Mr. Trump sometimes complained in meetings that “it was not going to happen before the election and it will be ‘Sleepy Joe’” who would ultimately get credit.

Partly as a result, as of December 30, only 2.6-3 million Americans had received the first of two shots against the coronavirus and it is unlikely that individuals in lower-risk populations will be offered it before the second half of 2021.   At that pace, herd immunity by prevention is unlikely to be achieved before 2022. It might be achieved by death earlier. Congratulations, Mr. Trump.

President Trump has dumped the problem onto the states, which have let this stinking mess go down to the counties, most of which lack the money or expertise (or both) to proceed at more than a snail's pace. Mission accomplished, Mr. Trump.

The charge of "fascism" is leveled less often than facts demand. For Donald Trump, it was not incompetence. It was not the inability to execute a plan. It has been intentional, an effort to weed out people he believes have bad genes, a campaign cut short on November 3, or which will be on January 20.


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