By Robert Bridge
Nobody in their right mind would wish for a global pandemic. Yet, such wisdom may seem less obvious in an election year as the Democrats look prepared to use the coronavirus as a weapon in their quest to unseat Trump.
Whatever one may think about the coronavirus — that it has been overblown, underestimated, or handled with impeccable care — one thing is indisputable: Trump’s political opponents will be hard-pressed not to use Covid-19 as yet another way of portraying the Republican leader as unworthy of the White House. After all, we are talking about the year 2020, when the American people are staring down the barrel of the most pivotal presidential election to come along in many years. In other words, nothing should surprise us.
Republican-Democrat infighting goes viral
Even as reports fly that President Trump will declare a national emergency, with the US bracing itself for the coronavirus pandemic, it appears the Democrats and Republicans will never agree on what definite steps should be taken. This could turn a manageable emergency into a full-blown crisis.
This week, Trump was dragged over the media coals for drawing analogies between the “common flu” and the coronavirus, remarking that the former disease has been responsible for far more fatalities to date. And in fact, Trump was correct. It’s easy to forget, amid all the hysteria that has greeted the aspiring scourge, that just several dozen Americans have died from Covid-19. But since there is no vaccination available against the disease, as there is for the common flu, Trump was slammed for not mentioning that information.
“Trump failed to point out in his tweet that there is currently no cure or vaccine for the coronavirus, while flu vaccines are available to many,” noted the Denver Channel, an affiliate of ABC News.
Earlier, Trump had once again incurred the wrath of his detractors, of which there is no shortage, when he dared to second guess the findings of the World Health Organization (WHO), which put the fatality rate for coronavirus at 3.4 percent, an alarmingly high kill rate for a disease.
“Well, I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News. “Now, and this is just my hunch, and — but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this,” the real figure is “way under 1 percent,” he said.
Naturally, the media was quick to pounce on Trump as a snake-oil salesman of bad science, apparently happy to fudge figures during a crisis just to save his presidency. What the mainstream media failed to mention, however, is that a number of medical authorities have come out in support of Trump’s assertion that the fatality stats are way overblown.
In an unusually sober and rational article on Covid-19, published in Slate, Dr. Jeremy Samuel Faust used an ingenious method for calculating the true fatality rate by examining data taken from the “natural laboratory” of the Diamond Princess Cruise ship, which had been quarantined off the coast of Japan with 3,711 miserable passengers on board. Of that number, 705 passengers tested positive for COVID-19, while six passengers — all of them over the age of 70 years old — eventually died from the illness. That put the fatality rate at just 0.85 percent.
Did Dr. Faust’s analysis calm the hysteria that has taken much of the world by storm? Are you kidding? In fact, it has only gotten worse, and the reason could very well be connected to the political firestorm that has engulfed the country since 2016.
Covid-19: A tempest in a political tinderbox?
Although just a handful of Americans have lost their lives to the coronavirus, the public is behaving as though Godzilla had just stomped ashore, threatening to wreak death and destruction from sea to shining sea. Not only has Wall Street suffered record losses, events across the country that require the attendance of disease-carrying humans have been duly cancelled. The hysteria is not confined to the US sanatorium; a number of countries are experiencing food and supply shortages due to panic buying.
Amid such an unprecedented global meltdown, could anyone fault Trump for imposing a ban on European citizens from traveling to the United States for 30 days? Of course they could! After all, the Orange Man hunkered down on Pennsylvania Avenue can do absolutely nothing good, despite the fact that similar methods initiated by the Chinese government seems to have halted the spread of the disease.
Any guesses as to how the Democrats have chosen to slam Trump’s European travel ban? At a time when the United States is on the verge of becoming more isolationist at any time in its recent history, slamming shut its border to European states, which make up some of the world’s biggest economies, the Democrats are focusing their attention on Trump’s use of the term “foreign virus” to describe the challenge facing the nation.
Twitter is currently littered with comments from Democrats accusing the Trump administration of resorting to racism and xenophobia in its effort to contain the disease.
Joe Biden, the former vice president who looks positioned to take on Trump in November, also did not miss a cheap opportunity to give the racist slur a drive around the Beltway.
“Neither should we panic or fall back on xenophobia,” Biden said in an address on Thursday. “Labeling Covid-19 a ‘foreign virus’ does not displace accountability for the misjudgments that have been taken, thus far, by the Trump administration.”
Amid all this sickening self-righteousness, I am surprised the Democrats have not accused the Republicans for the ‘cultural appropriation’ of the deadly virus, which first reared its head in China.
Is this really the time for a national hand-wringing debate over semantics? After all, the world lived happily with the word ‘Spanish flu’ for centuries without Liberals uttering any objections (and despite the fact that the 1918 influenza pandemic is said to have killed up to 50 million people). But now that the question of the Democrats winning ultimate power in Washington, DC is riding on the line, breathing the term “foreign virus” has struck a nerve with Team Woke.
In closing, there is one important feature about COVID-19 that has some bearing on the upcoming presidential showdown. Since the disease seems to be particularly dangerous to individuals over the age of 70, the Democrats and Republicans — who are all fielding septuagenarians in November — would do well to put aside their political backstabbing and find a way to beat the coronavirus. Their political lives could literally depend upon it.