Leading vs lying

12 September 2020

2:43 AM

12 September 2020

2:43 AM

At his short Thursday news briefing, President Trump laid out the many successes that the United States has enjoyed in its battle against the Chinese virus compared with the record in Europe and other parts of the world.

Trump’s decision to end air travel between China United States at the end of January was roundly derided as overkill and ‘xenophobic’ by the entire Democratic establishment from Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi on down. But that decision is now widely credited with saving tens of thousands of lives. Under Trump’s direction, the US went into overdrive, producing masks, gowns, test kits, ventilators and other medical materiel in astonishing quantities, not to mention the instant erection of a (largely unneeded) field hospital in New York’s Javits Center and the dispatch of the 1,000-bed hospital ship Comfort to New York Harbor.

You won’t hear Govs. Newsom or Cuomo singing Trump’s praises now, but back in the spring they were both on record expressing their gratitude for the effectiveness and alacrity with which Trump responded to the crisis. (‘Promise made,’ Newsom said in April, ‘promise kept.’ Quoth Cuomo around the same time, ‘he has delivered for New York.’)

The Trump administration’s triumphs in dealing with the coronavirus do not end there. A whole host of effective therapeutics have been developed to battle the microbe while Operation Warp Speed has mobilized a vast array of medical and manufacturing talent in an effort to produce an effective vaccine by January 2021, years before anyone thought possible.

Then there has been the administration’s stunning economic initiatives, from the paycheck protection program to the many incentives deployed to put Americans back to work. As a result, the implosion of the US economy in March — the Dow lost 10,000 points in a few weeks and tens of millions were suddenly out of work. The market crashed from some 29,000 to 18,300 in the blink of an eye. Today? It is back in the neighborhood of 28,000 and unemployment has fallen from an eye-popping 16 percent to a little more than 8 percent with all indications that those trends will continue.

Were there mistakes? Doubtless. Anyone navigating through the terra incognita of an unprecedented pandemic will naturally begin with some trial and error. But at every step of the way, the President sought and relied upon the best expert advice available. My own view is that the nationwide lockdown was a mistake, a blunt one-size-fits-all bludgeon. But that is what the experts recommended. Trump followed their advice, but has clearly reconsidered it and, as he made clear at his news brief Thursday, he is not about to lockdown the country again.

In short, Donald Trump has displayed extraordinary leadership at a time of national crisis. He has also, I will add parenthetically, continued to display stunning leadership on the world stage. For example, he brokered the deal whereby the United Arab Emirates and Israel would end decades of hostility and normalize relations, a breakthrough that was quickly followed by Israel’s recognition by other Arab states and President Trump’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

But you already know all that because our patriotic media, putting the national interest before partisan politics, has faithfully reported on his actions, avoided baiting the President with specious ‘gotcha’ questions and given him credit where credit was due.

Just kidding. In fact, the media has acted horribly, behaving like petulant and malicious children. They have greeted the advent of the Chinese virus as one more opportunity to indulge in their favorite pastime, bashing Donald Trump. And now that we are in the home stretch of the presidential election season, the standard-issue anti-Trump dynamo that has been purring along uninterruptedly since election day 2016 has been fitted with a supercharger and battery of megaphones.

Every few days now — it will be at least once a week — the Biden-media complex will breathlessly disgorge some new anti-Trump tidbit. In itself, none will amount to much. In short order, all will be exposed as mistaken or irrelevant, but all will to some extent be sticky and, by dint of repetition, will contribute to the anti-Trump fog through which many voters peer in disoriented confusion.

There is nothing new about this.

Remember the story about how an insensitive Mitt Romney drove with his dog on his car’s roof? Or how George W. Bush, a quarter century earlier, had been issued a DUI summons when a policeman noticed he was driving too slowly and pulled him over? We’re there again.

Last week, the wretched anti-Trump foot solider Jeffrey Goldberg made up things that Trump was supposed to have said about American soldiers and, armed with his four anonymous sources, published it in the Atlantic. The charges were instantly contradicted by a wide range of people who had actually been with President Trump on the occasion (including the Trump critic John Bolton). But no matter. The accusations made the rounds of the news shows and have been faithfully parroted by Dem operatives, including Joe Biden, ever since.

On Wednesday, the next little stink bomb dropped. Bob ‘Watergate’ Woodward leaked a snippet of a telephone interview he conducted with the President in February. Why Donald Trump decided to speak with the notoriously sketchy Woodward is a question for the ages. But he did. And when they got around to the Chinese virus, at that time still an amorphous threat, Trump frankly admitted that he endeavored to soft pedal the threat. ‘I wanted to always play it down,’ he said. ‘I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.’

Among the things I omitted from my list of the President’s successes in dealing with the coronavirus was any mention of his reassuring demeanor. He was calm. He was deliberate. He put the threat in context. He sent signals that were soothing that demonstrated that he had things under control. ‘This too shall pass,’ was the governing message, and it was the right message.

But it is no surprise that the despicable anti-Trump media seized on Trump’s words and twisted them into this week’s anti-Trump ‘bombshell’. At the Thursday news briefing, ABC’s Jonathan Karl got to ask the first question. ‘Why did you lie to the American people,’ he began.

Right. The President rightly objected to the tone of the question but then went on to point out that he was leading, not lying. Leading vs lying: it’s a pertinent distinction that went over the heads of Karl and his piranha-like colleagues (actually, they probably understood it but are constitutionally incapable of giving Trump credit for anything).

The whole sorry performance was as pathetic as it was mendacious. As Victoria Taft and others have noted, the idea that Trump should be faulted for downplaying the threat of the coronavirus is risible since, although he said calming things, he took effective action at the time and was roundly denounced by the Democrats for doing so.

Moreover, if Woodward’s pseudo-revelation was pertinent — if he really believed that he knew something in February that bore on the health of the nation, would he not have had a moral obligation to reveal it then rather than wait for the eve of his book’s publication (which is also the eve of the election)?

It’s hard to take Woodward’s gotcha gambit seriously because a) it simply shows the President acting presidential and b) it is so transparently an election ploy, as was Jeffrey Goldberg’s anonymously sourced fantasy about Trump’s disparaging American soldiers. We’ll have several more such pseudo-revelations before November 3. I think the number will be four or five more, and they will be deployed in ever increasing tones of hysteria.

Will they matter? I doubt it. If you are uncertain, I invite you to compare Donald Trump’s performance at a rally in Michigan Thursday with the ghost-scripted appearance of Joe Biden in the same state. One was an enthusiastic celebration, the other a sour blamefest. H.L. Mencken is said to have remarked that ‘nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public’. In fact, I believe that the American public knows full well what it is about. It’s the bitter and twisted American media that needs its head examined.

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