Letter: Clouded Judgment

Letter to the Editor

In response to the letter “The wartime president,” published on April 2.

Burt Ross is entitled to his views regarding the President of the United States. I enjoy his writing, humorous views and opinions on life, generally, but I reject several points in his essay that underpin his arguments. In fact, I am surprised such a distinguished and grounded writer could be so cavalier with opinions baseless in fact and fueled instead by partisan propaganda.

First of all, he repeats and even doubles down on the completely inaccurate and untrue assertion that the president said the virus was a hoax. Even Snopes.com confirms Trump didn’t refer to the virus itself as a hoax. He instead said that Democrats’ criticism of his administration’s response to it was a hoax. (snopes.com/fact-check/trump-coronavirus-rally-remark/) So, let’s stop pretending he said otherwise.

While Mr. Hannity is a hammer of the right and sees every negative issue around Trump as a nail, it appears Mr. Ross prefers the tried and true technique of “The Big Lie,” where you repeat an untruth loud enough and long enough until it becomes true to your like-minded followers.  

Mr. Ross criticizes the president for deferring to the states in terms of responding to the crisis based on their local knowledge of the facts. While Mr. Trump’s characterization of his status as a “wartime president” may be an overstatement, his interpretation of The Constitution and the 10th Amendment is spot on. The 10th Amendment is pretty clear: The powers of the state include the “police powers” of health, education and welfare. Source: Bill of Rights, 1791. Federal powers or delegated powers (sometimes called enumerated or expressed powers) are specifically granted to the federal government. Source: Article I, Section 8 of The Constitution. This includes the power to coin money, to regulate commerce, to declare war, to raise and maintain armed forces and to establish a post office. 

The states have both the power and authority to exercise executive authority to compel local companies in a state to support the public good in an emergency. It is not the federal government’s duty to ensure there are enough ventilators or N95 masks for the states. It’s the responsibility of the governors and states’ legislatures. For Mr. Ross to imply otherwise is simply wrong. The federal government is the backstop. In this case, the emergency was so rapid and overwhelming, governors of the hardest hit states of New York, California and Washington asked for federal help to galvanize a response and the president responded. Gavin Newsom, who is at political odds with Trump on most issues, even acknowledges that Trump came through when he asked for support and took every one of his calls. Trump, in reply, complimented Newsom on his work in the state for the people of California.

If Mr. Ross researched the testing issue more thoroughly, he would have moderated his harsh opinion on that issue. I think. CDC obtained samples of the novel coronavirus on January14 and began developing their own test kit. WHO offered the US a test kit on January 15th but CDC decided to continue the development of their own test kit, a routine practice followed in the past. In retrospect, that was a bad call. While the test itself worked, one of the reagents used in the test created too many false positives. CDC then partnered with the private sector to create a more reliable test. While the ramp up in testing is now adequate, to imply people were sitting around doing nothing is simply not true. The real reason the virus took off was that persons without symptoms were walking around infectious, didn’t know it and spread the virus through social contact. Modeling predicted that only persons with fever were infectious. We were only testing people with fevers who came in from China. No symptoms, no testing. It’s an overstatement to lay the whole issue on available testing. It was also an error in protocol as well based on inadequate experience and knowledge of the method of spread and the affect of this novel virus on different individuals.

The first “official” coronavirus case came into the US on January 21st and the first Corona Virus Task Force met less than a week later on January 27th. The President banned entry to persons who came in from Mainland China on 4 days later on January 31st. After the CDC test was determined to be inadequate, February 12th, much of what was done by governments in general was deliberate and as effective as it could be. I am not saying that everything that Trump did or said was without fault or fully effective. But to denigrate and ridicule all he and our leaders have done is simply searching for fault for personal efficacy. This virus has confounded every health model presented and the changes in mitigation directions demonstrate it. Every day we pick up a news story in contradiction to one done the day before on nearly the same subject, many tweaked with a political bent one way or another. To paraphrase Harry Truman, if you put all the experts back to back they’d point in all directions. Is their fault? There will be postmortems on this experience for years. For now, let’s proceed with the obvious: if the virus can’t find a host, it can’t spread. Stay separated so we can get it under control, develop therapeutics to manage it and a vaccine to increase our immunity and reduce our vulnerability to it.

Mr. Ross’ stripes are obvious. Four democratic debates were held on January 14th, February 7th, 19th and 25th. Not one mention of the pending Corona Virus emergency was mentioned in the debates. Not until the March 15th debate, 4 days after WHO finally declared the CoVid-19 a pandemic, was it mentioned. Until then, the democrats were monopolizing all of congress’ (and the mainstream media’s) time with impeachment hearings and votes on the Russia probe and paying scant attention to the novel corona virus other than as a political cudgel to wield against Trump. Democrats later delayed the CoVid-19 Stimulus Package to stuff it with pork aimed at special interest groups and initiatives that had no real benefit to the American public and the CoVid-19 crisis. Sounds like a pot and kettle problem to me.

I am not saying that everything that Trump did or said is without fault or fully effective. Trump and his clumsy and inarticulate ways of delivery leave him open to ridicule. But to denigrate all he and our leaders have done well is simply searching for fault for personal efficacy. The audience that Mr. Ross would speak to would never be convinced of that any deed of the President was worthy of praise so why not pander to their interests. If Trump came up with the cure for cancer, the media would criticize him for choosing cancer over heart disease and Mr. Ross would write a letter to this paper agreeing with them and say that Trump even cured the wrong cancer.

James Ferrier