Donald Trump, the “Chinese” Virus, and the Future of America

We all saw the picture of President Trump’s speech. A Washington Postphotographer snapped a frame of Trump’s prepared speech. And there it was: The word “Corona” was crossed out – with Trump’s beloved “Sharpie” – and replaced with “Chinese.”

Here he was again… assigning blame and, at the same time, tossing a little racism in the mix for his base. Is it any wonder we’ve seen a sharp uptick in racist acts against Asians? Of course, Trump has an excuse. “That’s where it originated,” he says.

But when he talks about H1N1, he doesn’t call it “the American virus.” Even though it was first identified here. I wonder how the President would feel if all the other countries called H1N1 “the American virus.” Can you imagine him remaining calm? I can’t.

But here we are, facing a deadly pandemic with our national response depending on the moods of a paranoid narcissist. Who seems comfortable with a little racism, to boot.

So, what’s really happening here? Let’s look at the timeline.

Donald Trump vs. COVID-19

When asked how he’d rate his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Trump was quick to respond.

“I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job…” was his immediate response.

But here’s how Trump’s darling – Fox News – described it…

“President Trump on Monday gave his administration high marks for its response to the coronavirus,” Fox wrote, “despite criticisms for a shortage of testing kits and for his downplaying the severity of the pandemic.”

Even Trump’s most ardent cheer squad had to hedge its comments. Because – let’s face it – the White House response hasn’t been stellar.

In fact, the President tried to downplay the severity of the pandemic for weeks. And thus delayed our nation’s response. In the end, this could cost thousands of lives.

Most of Trump’s moves since then have followed suit: Delaying action that could slow the spread and save lives.

And making Trump’s response of “I’d rate it a 10” accurate only if it were on a scale of 1 – 100.

Trump Did Something Right… Almost. Then…

On Jan 31, Trump blocked entrance to the U.S. for most people who’d traveled to most of China in the last 14 days. But this didn’t apply to Macau or Hong Kong… or to U.S. citizens or lawful residents.

With these gaping exceptions, Trump made the only smart move he’d make for weeks. Weeks? His comments to downplay the severity date back to at least Jan 22.

On Feb 2 – in spite of a quiet move by HHS Secretary Alex Azar to declare the novel coronavirus a public health emergency – Trump tells Fox’s Sean Hannity, “Well, we pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

On Feb 24, Trump asked for more than $1.75 billion in new and moved funding to fight the coronavirus threat. At the same time, Trump tweeted, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

By Feb 25, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) was saying a coronavirus pandemic wasn’t a matter of if, but of when. At the same time, Mitt Romney – a Republican – said he was disappointed the administration wasn’t doing more to prepare.

On the same day, Trump tweeted, “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus…” On the 28th, he blamed the spread of coronavirus on the Democrats.

On March 5, Trump claimed partial victory. He compared U.S. numbers to those of other countries. And blamed “MSNDC” for publishing fake news.

On March 9, Trump tried to compare seasonal flu with COVID-19. We don’t shut down over the seasonal flu, he argued… so why should we over this novel coronavirus?

On March 10, Trump promised tests people couldn’t get. On the same day, he demanded more work on the wall to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The only problem? Cases were far more widespread in the U.S. than in Mexico.

On the 11th, he announced “payroll tax relief” and blamed the Democrats for slowing response. (In spite of the fact that payroll tax relief largely benefits employers.)

March 12 found Trump boasting about 4 million test kits soon to be available. “If you go to the right agency,” he claimed, “if you go to the right area, you get the test.”

On March 13 – more than seven weeks after COVID-19 arrived in the U.S.  – Trump declared a public health emergency. Meanwhile, the disease had spread widely.

March 17: Trump called for people to work at home, limit travel, and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

On March 23, Trump tweeted, “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself…” Breitbart News said Trump was ready to start relaxing coronavirus restrictions.

On the 24th, he told America he’d “… love to have the country opened up, and just raring to go by Easter.”

Of course, Trump has since reversed himself on this… along with pretty much everything else he’s said about the COVID-19 virus.

But that’s the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Trump Ignored Specific Warnings

Trump claims nobody could have known such a pandemic could arise. But the Obama administration warned him of just such a threat during the transition.

In those days, the outgoing president’s team walked Trump’s incoming team through exactly the situation we face now. Along with all the necessary steps to take to defeat it.

Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, downplayed the exercise. “There’s no briefing,” Spicer said, “that can prepare you for a worldwide pandemic.” At least two Trump cabinet members – Wilber Ross and Rick Perry – attended the exercise.

Yup. Nobody could have foreseen exactly what you were warned about.

Then in January and February of 2020, the Trump administration was warned of the severity – and potential – of the coronavirus pandemic. By their own national security team. They chose to ignore those warnings.

Trump’s own intelligence agencies were warning of the severity of COVID-19. And Trump chose to ignore the warnings.

According to one Trump administration official, “Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were – they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it.”

Could the U.S. have reacted more quickly? It’s clear the answer is yes. Could we have saved lives? Unquestionably. Was the Trump administration part of the problem? That’s pretty hard to deny.

Should we give a second term to a man who deliberately and actively led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds – if not thousands – of Americans?

Not in our wildest dreams.

Donald Trump’s actions – or lack thereof – clearly led to many deaths. He should not be rewarded for this travesty. He should be relegated to the dumpster of history… A fate he richly deserves.

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Sources:

Casiano, L., “Trump, asked about coronavirus response, gives himself a 10 out of 10,” Fox News. Mar 16, 2020.

Dilanian, K., et al, “Timeline: Trump administration’s response to coronavirus,” NBC News. March 17, 2020.

Spiering, C., “Donald Trump on Coronavirus Restrictions: ‘We Cannot Let the Cure Be Worse than the Problem’,” Breitbart News. Mar 23, 2020.

Greenberg, J., “President Donald Trump delivers a prime-time address to the nation about the coronavirus from the Oval Office on March 11,” Politifact(dot)com. March 20, 2020.

Toosi, N., et. Al., “Before Trump’s inauguration, a warning: ‘The worst influenza pandemic since 1918’,” Politico(dot)com. Mar 16, 2020.

Harris, S., et al, “U.S. intelligence reports from January and February warned about a likely pandemic,” MSN(dot)com. Mar 22, 2020.

Where the H*ll Are the Democrats?

The GOP tweets propaganda several times a day. Their chairwoman also tweets propaganda on a daily basis. The President tweets propaganda almost non-stop. Fox News issues pro-Trump tweets. And various members of Congress tweet their support for the President regularly.

An endless stream of pro-Trump B.S. floods the Twitterverse non-stop.

Meanwhile, the Democratic leadership seems to tweet almost never. There’s a steady stream of unanswered GOP lies and deceptions. All being sucked up by voters. But virtually no opposition from official Democratic sources.

Here’s the thing: If you repeat a lie often enough, people begin to believe it. The GOP lies just become part of the national narrative.

In other words, Trump is winning – at least in part – because the Democrats can’t seem to post more often on Twitter.

So how can we fix this problem? The answer is depressingly simple.

The Truth Is Powerful… But Only if You Use It

I’ve seen dozens of GOP claims on Twitter that the impeachment inquiry is a “witch hunt.” It’s the same claim they made throughout the Mueller inquiry.

But this so-called “witch-hunt” has snared an awful lot of witches. Where are the Dems’ posts pointing out how many Trump operatives have pled guilty – or been convicted? Or how many Russian operatives have been indicted?

The Dems seem to leave their defense to individual posters. The party has no clear response. So, the GOP’s message takes the forefront in voters’ minds. Even though it’s usually untrue.

The Dems’ lack of a clear response gives the GOP’s point credibility. Faced with an unbroken onslaught of GOP propaganda, reasonable voters will go with the flow.

The Dems have seemingly ceded the Twitterverse to the GOP. Is it any wonder Donald Trump is still in the White House?

Reclaiming Barak Obama’s Turf

It wasn’t that long ago an Internet-savvy candidate used the online world to pull off an “impossible” victory. An unlikely candidate turned, “Yes, we can,” into “Yes, we did.” And Barack Obama became the first African-American president of the U.S.

The GOP may have learned from Obama’s victory, but the Dems apparently didn’t. And pro-Trump tweets, on the party level, outnumber anti-Trump tweets by a wide margin.

Why is this important? For one thing, widely distributed tweets are far more likely to be featured on the platform.

As of this writing, Donald Trump has 67 million followers on Twitter. Newsweek reports almost a third of them – 29% – are fake accounts. Still, that’s nearly 41 million real people following Trump.

Twitter is more likely to feature a tweet from a celebrity with 41 million followers than someone with 41… or 41,000… or even 4.1 million. Especially when that celebrity is the President. When he tweets 130 times over a single weekend… well, that’s a heck of a lot of impressions.

Add in multiple daily tweets from his allies – many with millions of followers of their own – and, Houston, we have a problem.

Obama may have held the high ground early on… but the rest of his party seems to have missed the memo. The GOP has broken the code, and they’re flooding Twitter with propaganda. Virtually unchallenged by their opponents.

It’s Not Too Late… But We’re Getting Close

You know who has more Twitter followers than Donald Trump, by a wide margin? Barack Obama. He proves an intelligent and measured voice can even command more attention than a raging nut job.

Party stand-outs, like AOC, are building solid followings. But Trump has a years-long jump on these rising stars. Still, if the Dems built a real social media strategy, they could at least be competitive.

Today, the GOP posted a clip from Fox News, featuring Devin Nunes declaring the impeachment hearings a “disaster” for the Dems. Really? Maybe Nunes didn’t see his own face after Gordon Sondland’s testimony. “Deer in the headlights” doesn’t do it justice.

Witnesses swore under oath Trump was only interested in getting dirt on the Bidens. That most of his top aides were in the loop on this. That he had no real interest in corruption. And that it was made clear to the Ukraine government the military aide and a Trump/White House visit hinged on a Biden investigation.

This is what Nunes calls a “disaster” for the Dems? Clearly this is a joke ripe for a sarcastic reply. Nope. Cue the crickets. I follow the Dems on Twitter, and there was nothing in my feed. Zero. Zip. Nada. Nothing!

It appears the Dems have either the laziest, or the dumbest, social media team on Earth. Twitter should be awash in impeachment hearing news from the Dems.

Where’s the outrage over Lindsay Graham’s “investigation” of the Bidens? Can you say “Benghazi”? I can. In fact, I’ve covered that charade at least twice.

GOP conspiracy theories? Pizzgate isn’t whacko enough for you? Trump’s links to birtherism? Deep state sabotage? Come on! What are you waiting for? Those naked pics of Trump Nunes said you were after?

The GOP and its allies have made a mockery of our political system. Up is down. Black is white. In is out. And the Dems are tweeting about tech giants and Black Friday deals. Geez! You can’t leave allthe hard work to CNN.

It’s not too late to fight back. But we’re getting uncomfortably close. You need someone tweeting 20, 30, 50 times a day. Not just in response to the GOP propaganda… but getting your story out in advance of their B.S.

If you don’t fight back now, you’ll lose more than the 2020 election. You’ll lose much of the brittle support your party has left.

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Cole, B., “Trump Has 15 Million Fake Twitter Followers,” newsweek(dot)com. May 22, 2018.

Time to Wake Up! The Republicans Are Gaslighting America.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R – LA) just appeared on Fox News. One of his talking points? The so-called “Green New Deal.”

“The Green New Deal,” he said. “Just think about how laughable… cows are banned… planes are banned…”

Of course, this is pure B.S. But it’s a common GOP talking point. And, as they continue to hammer on this fantasy, their core supporters eat it up.

Scalise’s idiotic depiction of the Green New Deal came on the heels of a comment on how much Trump has done “to get this economy moving again.”

Which, in reality is almost nothing. The economy crashed under our last Republican president – George W. Bush. The economy got moving again under President Obama. Under Obama…

  • Unemployment dropped significantly
  • The stock market came roaring back
  • The avalanche of home foreclosures slowed to a trickle.

But Trump and the Republicans are taking credit for it all.

They’re Gaslighting America… and we have to call them on it every time.

The Republican Assault on Truth Rules the Twitterverse

My Twitter feed this morning included these pro-Trump posts…

  • The GOP quoted chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, saying “… the Democrat Party wants to take away Pretty much everything from the American people… to fund a health care plan.” This, of course, is blatantly false.
  • A GOP re-tweet of a McDaniel post claiming, “[Democrats]want the government to take over every aspect of our lives from education to health care.” Again, completely false.
  • A misleading post from Rep. Jim Jordan doing a hatched job on Jim Comey.
  • A post from Sarah Huckabee Sanders mis-stating the Democratic position on firearms.
  • A wildly spun post from the “Trump War Room” saying Pete Buttigieg accused Trump voters in his state of “supporting racism.” He didn’t. He said, at best, Trump voters are “looking the other way” on the issue. And the comment wasn’t aimed at Hoosiers.
  • Another GOP retweet – this one from Elizabeth Harrington – implying Beto O’Rourke was in favor of ignoring the 2ndAmendment, and wanted to take away everyone’s guns. O’Rourke actually said he was in favor of ending private ownership of assault weapons.

And on and on it went. Every single Republican tweet I read was either misleading or out-and-out false.

Luckily for us, the Democrats have an active well-orchestrated truth machine countering this onslaught on reality.

Just kidding. For the most part, the Dems seem to ignore the GOP gaslighting campaign… with just a few notable exceptions.

The Democratic Party Is Wimping Out

This morning’s tweet from the Dems? An offer to win two tickets to the next candidates’ debate. I kid you not.

The GOP flooded Twitter with misinformation – or massive “spin,” if you prefer. The Dems respond by offering two tickets to a snooze-fest. Really? Have they learned nothing from The Squad? Apparently so.

Meanwhile, a Republican PAC ran an ad during the Democratic debate depicting an image of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) going up in flames. That’s a violent act that encourages more acts of violence.

AOC responded by calling out Republican “hysteria” and laying out her party’s goals. Fellow Rep. Rashida Tlaib backed her up.

But the Democratic Party? Crickets.

I follow the Dems on Twitter, and they post far less than the GOP. The opposition is pumping out an endless stream of mis-information… and the Dems remain virtually silent.

For a growing number of voters, social media is a key source of information… and the Dems are blowing it. Who could have imagined a bunch of old white guys could out-gun the diverse Democratic Party on social media?

But it sure seems to be happening.

Guess what, Dems. If you don’t wise up, democracy as we know it will be at an end. So enough with the snooze-fest tickets already!

You have to fight back.

And that means more of your team has to spend a lot more time at their keyboards.

Demographics Are on Our Side

The GOP is the party of old white men. The party of religious conservatives. The party of white nationalists.

Democrats tend to be younger, more diverse, and technologically savvier. Better educated. So why isn’t the party reaching out more effectively on social media? Lord only knows.

The Dems lost state houses because the party focused on the big picture. And all but ignored local races. Now they seem to be losing the social media battle because…

Because… Well, nobody has a good idea why. Lack of trying, maybe? Did the party learn nothing from Obama’s online success? Apparently so.

The GOP is blanketing social media with misinformation. The longer the Dems ignore it, the stronger the grip these lies will have.

Look… Dems have the demographic advantage. They need to use it. They need to get more active online. To broadcast the truth on social media. To fight fear-mongering with facts. To call out the GOP’s lies and mis-representations.

To flood social media with the truth.

The Squad can’t do it for you. But they canset an example. Yes; they’re younger and more progressive. But – in the final analysis – their goals are the same as yours: An America that’s just. That shining light on the hill.

2020 is fast approaching. Our democracy may not withstand 4 more years of Trump. But it’s not too late.

President Obama showed how powerful social media can be. The Squad has shown how easily it can be turned to your cause.

The truth is a powerful ally. Use it to counter the GOP’s Gaslight campaign online. Because the alternative is unthinkable.