Coronavirus exposes Trump’s greatest weaknesses

It is hard to describe just how much things have changed in the last 48 hours. The coronavirus pandemic fallout is rapidly swirling around us (literally), and communities are bracing to live an unprecedented but hopefully temporary new reality. 

It is far more than unsettling; it is daunting and scary. It is a time when, traditionally, a country looks to its leaders and especially its commander in chief for encouragement, empathy and leadership. More than that, we also look to our commander in chief for the truth and for solutions. 

We have not gotten any of these things from Donald Trump.

In fact, what we have gotten is irresponsible sugar-coating, political blaming, grandstanding and a botched Oval Office address that was remarkable for its lack of solutions, its xenophobic undertones and its outright untruths. That the White House had to come out and clarify several of the president’s statements right after the speech was jaw-dropping. 

The president’s address was so bungled that instead of calming fears and reassuring the markets, it did exactly the opposite. The next day, the market had dropped an additional 10 percent and had its worst single day since Black Monday in 1987.

Since then, finally understanding the gravity of the harm the president had done with his lack of solutions-based policies, guidance and advice, the White House has declared a national emergency and had the president hold a press conference to try to right the ship that was rapidly sinking in panic-stricken waters. 

All of this underscores just how unprepared this administration is to deal with a national crisis of this magnitude and specifically just how unfit and ill-equipped Donald Trump is to serve in the capacity of commander in chief during such a global ordeal.

Shamefully, we now know, but are not surprised, that Donald Trump himself, in an unconscionable act, suppressed the need to have more testing in order to keep the numbers of the coronavirus infection low because he thought it would hurt his reelection

Consequently, the economic repercussions have been overwhelming. The plunge in the markets has made the administration take notice. Without the ability to brag about the booming stock market, Donald Trump has almost no chance of winning reelection.

Luckily, we do have leaders who understand what needs to be done. 

Thanks to Dr. Anthony Fauci, we know our testing capabilities are anemic and our health care systems are not prepared to deal with what is coming. We know what works to try to stem the tide and “flatten the curve” to help our health systems deal with the coming onslaught of infections. 

In the vacuum of leadership from the Oval Office, state, local and industry leaders have taken it upon themselves to implement the tough but necessary policies we have seen thus far.

The shutting down of schools, the cancellation of massive sporting events, and the postponement of conventions, gatherings, concerts and political rallies all underscore the seriousness of what the country is facing.

Former President Obama can explain things much clearer and even express so much more sympathy in a tweet than Donald Trump ever can in any speech.

Hillary Clinton was also very succinct and clear in a message to Trump about what needs to be done. 

Luckily, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is working with at least some in the administration who understand just what needs to get done, even if only for the president’s own political survival (though I think it is way too late for that). The package, which has passed the Democratic-controlled House, focuses on paid leave and other kinds short- and long-term economic relief for families.   

It is now up to the Senate and Trump to step up and do what needs to be done.

Much of Americans’ frustrations have been over the muddled effort to ensure that appropriate testing is widely available. The administration dropped the ball early on for political reasons, and now we are far behind the eight ball, which is hampering our overall ability to respond aggressively, appropriately and effectively. 

Hopefully the testing issue will soon get resolved. The fact that South Korea is testing 10,000 people a day and we cannot even get the people who are showing symptoms tested is embarrassing, humiliating and dangerous.

The administration’s overall response has been so anemic and woefully inadequate that it opened up plenty of space for both of the remaining Democratic candidates for president — former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — to offer robust plans of their own and a vision of what would be done if either were president.

Either of these candidates would be so much better prepared than Trump to handle a crisis of this magnitude. 

That is what this next election is all about. The coronavirus will have done much more than catch the world and this country by surprise. It will have uncovered under no uncertain terms, and sadly under very dangerous and tragic circumstances, just how much Donald Trump does not belong in the most powerful office in the land. 

Maria Cardona is a longtime Democratic strategist and co-chair of the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee for the party’s 2020 convention. She is a principal at Dewey Square Group, a Washington-based political consulting agency, and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.

Tags #coronavirus #2019nCoV #contagion Anthony Fauci Bernie Sanders coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Nancy Pelosi South Korea

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