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The Signal: Trump’s ongoing effort to deflect all blame for the administration’s hopeless response to the Covid-19 outbreak onto others. This week’s enemy of choice? The World Health Organization and his own inspectors general.
Despite the fact that the WHO has been warning the world of the unprecedented danger of an uncontrollable pandemic for more than two months, Trump chose this week, with US deaths rapidly rising, to accuse the international body of having dropped the ball and of being “China-centric.” Most outrageously, he then threatened to cut the organization’s US funding. What better time to defund the world’s leading health organization than during the peak of a pandemic?
Trump also continued to tout the miracle-cure benefits of an anti-malarial drug that his own infectious disease experts say is still unproven (even if potentially promising) for Covid-19 patients. Surprise, surprise, it turns out that the grifter-president has a financial stake in the company that makes the drug he keeps touting on TV.
That same grifter then removed the independent watchdog who was overseeing the trillions of dollars in emergency relief authorized by Congress. As a result, the largest bailout package in US history could disproportionately benefit Trump’s cabinet of billionaires and his political and business cronies. If that happens, the public will be kept in the dark.
Meanwhile, with the United States recording more daily deaths from the virus than any other country, the Feds are still unable to coordinate an effective national distribution of medical supplies. And with Trump attacking the Health and Human Services inspector general for reporting on shortages in hospitals, it has fallen to California—which now has one of the world’s most effective responses to the pandemic—to take the lead in sending ventilators and other needed supplies to a national stockpile, from which states with the highest need at any given moment will be able to pull resources.
Trump’s stunning abnegation of moral authority isn’t limited to his increasingly paranoid and inept coronavirus response. In the realm of international relations, the Trump administration has once again snubbed America’s allies. This time around, the issue is the Open Skies Treaty, a long-standing arrangement between the United States, its European allies, and Russia that allows reconnaissance flights from these countries to fly unimpeded over rival countries. The point is to reduce the likelihood that the United States or Russia will engage in an undetected military buildup that could destabilize an already precarious peace.
Under cover of the pandemic, and to the horror of allied governments, which urged them to reconsider, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper have reportedly decided to pull America out of the agreement this autumn. The unconstrained nationalism of the administration continues to flower, making the United States an increasingly destabilizing, irrational actor on the world stage.
And the Noise? Trump has competition for sheer nuttiness: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, widely labeled Europe’s last true dictator, has been urging his countrymen to attend crowded sporting events, promising them that cold air, working on tractors, and going to the sauna will magically kill off the virus. Perhaps he and Trump should meet soon, faces unprotected, in the Oval Office… After all, as I mentioned in my last column, Trump has publicly stated that when he meets with dictators, it wouldn’t do for him to hide behind a mask.