Covid-19 diary: Part 12

May 31, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
May 31, 2020

One of the problems with having a scatterbrained lout like Donald Trump lead of the free world is that he does so many mendacious and malicious things that it’s virtually impossible to keep track of them all.

I realized recently that my catalog of the inadequacies and missteps of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic had inadvertently omitted perhaps the biggest misstep of all: The self-proclaimed Very Stable Genius’s April 23 “joke” that injections of bleach and/or internal doses of sunlight could cure Covid-19.

As humor, this is on a par with Trump’s famous “joke” of July 27, 2016, which is worth quoting in full: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary Clinton] emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens.”

Someone in Russia indeed seems to have been listening. As ‪special counsel Robert Mueller‬ reported in the spring of 2019:

Within approximately five hours of Trump’s statement, GRU officers targeted for the first time Clinton’s personal office. After candidate Trump’s remarks, Unit 26165 created and sent malicious links targeted 15 email accounts at the domain [redacted by the U.S. Justice Department for reasons of personal privacy] including an email account belonging to Clinton aide [redacted for personal privacy]. The investigation did not find evidence of earlier GRU attempts to compromise accounts hosted on this domain. It is unclear how the GRU was able to identify these email accounts, which were not public.

Americans were also listening to President Trump during his April 23 press conference. In the 18 hours after his remarks, New York City’s poison control hotline received 30 calls about exposure to Lysol, bleach and other household cleaners, more than double the 13 calls the line received in a comparable time span in 2019. The American Association of Poison Control Centers showed a similar jump in bleach and disinfectant cases in April.

It’s something of a miracle that only 103,775 Americans have died of Covid-19 as of Sunday morning, according to The New York Times.

I’ve had one other thought about Trump recently which is worth mentioning here. Has the president ever in his life accepted responsibility for anything negative? Mr. “I Alone Can Fix It” has blamed the nation’s problematic response to the novel coronavirus pandemic on China, the World Health Organization and Barack Obama.

Both of the first two supposed culprits have certainly made mistakes in grappling with the Covid-19 outbreak. But several nations in Asia, where the disease first appeared, have recorded some of the world’s lowest coronavirus mortality rates. China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Indonesia are all below one Covid-19 death per 100,000 residents.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has the 11th-highest Covid-19 mortality rate at 31.72 deaths per 100,000 population. All the nations ahead of America are European. Were China and WHO giving secret advice to Asian governments? The suggestion is risible.

And clearly neither they nor Obama forced Trump in 2018 to deemphasize a global health security and biodefense unit that the National Security Council initially formed in 2015, when Obama was in office. Nor did China, WHO or Obama engineer a 2017 decision by the newly installed Trump administration to abandon a proposed rule that would have required health-care businesses to plan for airborne infectious diseases.

It’s an election year, of course, so it’s only natural for Trump to deflect responsibility. But my question stands: Has he ever accepted blame for anything?

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