Happy Talk Vs. Reality — Washington Stumbles on the Coronavirus
Author: Greg Valliere
February 26, 2020
A DISTURBING PATTERN IS RECURRING: Donald Trump appears to be muzzling the experts, sticking to happy talk that has no basis in fact. This has occurred repeatedly — Trump against the Weather Bureau, against climate experts, against his own generals, against the Federal Reserve, etc. And now there’s a disturbing battle between Trump and the Centers for Disease Control.
THE NARRATIVE WORSENS: Yesterday morning, the director of the CDC’s respiratory illness division stated that the coronavirus will soon grip the U.S. “It’s not a question of if this will happen, but when this will happen, and how many people in his country will have severe illnesses,” she told reporters in the morning.
AN EXTRAORDINARY WARNING: We repeat, verbatim, a chilling passage from Dr. Nancy Messonier: “Businesses need to consider replacing in-person meetings with telework. School authorities should consider ways to limit face-to-face contact, such as dividing students into smaller groups, using Internet-based learning or even closing schools.”
SHE ADDED: “Local officials should consider modifying, postponing or canceling large gatherings. Hospitals should consider ways to triage patients who do not need urgent care and recommend that patients delay surgery that isn’t absolutely necessary.”
THIS CANDOR INFURIATED THE WHITE HOUSE, which responded with sunny talk. The President said a vaccine is close, but actually it could take 18 months before it’s widely available. Larry Kudlow’s happy talk about the markets was ignored by investors. By afternoon, the CDC — intimidated — sounded more upbeat about containing the virus.
THE MIXED MESSAGES EXTENDED TO CAPITOL HILL, OF COURSE, where Democrats saw a political opening, blasting the White House for being unprepared. And everyone called for spending more money.
WE’RE HARDLY EXPERTS ON THE VIRUS, but we can usually smell a political shift. This is the greatest threat to Trump’s re-election, by far. He needs the experts to take charge, and if their message is grim, he can’t foolishly contradict their assessments. Trump’s credibility as a leader now faces its most serious test.
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TWO MESSAGES FROM LAST NIGHT: The embarrassing, angry, chaotic debate in South Carolina, poorly moderated, had two main messages.
First, Joe Biden still has a pulse rate; he was animated and reasonably articulate.
Bernie Sanders is still the favorite, but he took some major body blows and we still
think Biden has a narrow opening. No one else does; Mike Bloomberg went from terrible last week to mediocre last night.
Second, enough already with the debates. The Democrats’ post-mortem, a year from now, surely will conclude that THEY HAVE TOO MANY DAMNED DEBATES. What a turn-off for voters, nothing but yelling — and, regrettably, very little focus on the dominant issue in the world today, the coronavirus.
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