There is clearly no number of deaths that will make Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and their associated toadies take the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic seriously. On CBS’ Face The Nation, host Margaret Brennan started off by informing viewers that (despite soaring new caseloads), the Trump administration has been blocking interview requests with key government exports for three months.
“We have not been able to get our requests for Dr. Fauci approved by the Trump administration in the last three months. And the CDC not at all,” reported Brennan.
The reason for that is self-evident; early on in the pandemic, the Trump White House began restricting interviews with government experts after Trump reportedly became enraged by those experts contradicting his own false claims and delusions. Pence’s pandemic “task force” was the mechanism by which a more Trump-friendly narrative would be enforced; after Trump again got bored and began insisting it was time to “reopen” public spaces and pretend the virus had gone away, the task force itself disappeared into the White House woodwork. So here we are.
That is not to say Team Trump has entirely nixed interviews with government figures. It has instead bent them away from the Centers of Disease Control and government experts who have irritated Trump, preferring instead to send out economic catastrophes like Peter Navarro to opine about the relative cost-benefit ratios of keeping Americans alive versus killing off some percentage of them to grease the nation’s economic gears. Today’s Top Expert was Food and Drug Administration head Stephen Hahn, who may not be a pandemic expert but is more skilled than others at not pushing too many pins into Trump’s delusions.
His primary job was to say as little as possible, as plausibly as possible.
On Trump’s claim that a COVID-19 vaccine might be available “long before the end of the year,” a physical near-impossibility even with a competent administration but the latest in Trump’s many, many declarations that everything will be fine Real Soon Now without Donald having to lift a finger, Hahn would only allow that “I can’t predict when a vaccine will be available.”
On Trump’s insistence that “99%” of COVID-19 cases are “totally harmless”, a nonsensical and delusional statement even if you do not count the severe lung scarring and other long-term effects that appear to be associated with the disease, Hahn would only blow smoke: “You know, any case, we don’t want to have in this country, [meaningless phrase one], [meaningless phrase two]” he filibustered.
When blowing smoke didn’t work on a host, he straight-up refused the question. “I’m not going to get into who is right and who is wrong,” he told CNN host Dana Bash.
Buddy, you’re the top “food and drug” guy in the country. I know pandemics aren’t your thing, but deciding “who is right and who is wrong” would seem to be the key task of your own government department. If a meat company started marketing salmonella as a seasoning, it might be time to decide who was right and who was wrong. If a company declared that their new pills could protect you from asteroid strikes, somebody would weigh in.
Or not. At this point it depends on how much the salmonella lobby is willing to pay.
To her credit, Bash called his cowardly ass out in no uncertain terms. Made him look like a right proper jackass. A hack. A toady. A bootlicker. A clown.
Which is exactly why he’s on television, and government experts are not. Because Dr. Stephen Hahn’s top priority remains pleasing his idiot boss, and if the choice is between warning Trump-loving Americans that the plain worldwide facts about the disease make it far more serious than Donald Trump claims and ducking under a desk for a question or two, he’s going to pick the second.
Everybody knows Trump is lying, and his own top officials certainly do. But Trump and Pence have relentlessly purged anyone who ever shown any concern over that, and a little thing like 130,000 American deaths, or even 250,000 American deaths, won’t make any of the remainders change course now.
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