U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a stunning admission Tuesday when he went on the “Hugh Hewitt Show” and acknowledged that President Donald Trump has botched the federal government’s response to the coronavirus.
Oh, he didn’t come right out and say, “Trump has screwed this up.” Oh heavens no. He’s much too wily for that. But here’s what he said in explaining how Trump responded in the early days of the pandemic:
“It came up while we were tied down in the impeachment trial. And I think it diverted the attention of the government because everything every day was all about impeachment,” McConnell said.
Now, here’s the question you need to ask yourself.
Why would McConnell be making excuses for Trump if in fact Trump’s response had been “perfect” or “great” or “10 out of 10” or whatever superlative the self-promoter-in-chief has used to describe his administration’s response?
People don’t make excuses for their friends who have done nothing wrong.
If, in fact, Trump’s response had been “perfect” or “great” or “10 out of 10,” McConnell would have never, ever needed to cover for misstep after misstep that has led to a lack of sufficient testing, far too few masks, respirators, face shields and gowns to protect our doctors, nurses and first responders — and far too few ventilators as the pandemic rages.
The nine most important words in that quote from McConnell — “I think it diverted the attention of the government.”
Trump’s attention was not where it should have been.
But the fact of it is, the impeachment process didn’t divert Trump’s attention from anything.
He was too busy going to Mar-a-Lago, his south Florida escape, to have his attention diverted from a response to the coronavirus by his own impeachment.
Two days after the articles of impeachment were delivered to the Senate, the same day the United States began screening international travelers coming into major airports and four days before the U.S. announced the first case of coronavirus here, Trump hopped aboard Air Force One for a weekend trip to his seaside resort, where he attended the Policeman’s and Fireman’s Ball that weekend.
Over the next couple of weeks, he held two Keep America Great Rallies and spoke at a Republican meeting at another one of his Florida golf clubs.
Then, on Jan. 31, five days before the Senate impeachment vote, he jumped aboard Air Force One again for a trip back to Mar-a-Lago for The Trumpettes Red, White and Blue Celebration and for his annual Super Bowl bash. He also played a couple rounds of golf, according to reports.
His attention was diverted from planning for a global pandemic by the impeachment, but he had plenty of time for the Trumpettes, his corps of high-society female uber-supporters, evidently.
He was back in Mar-a-Lago in the middle of February for a couple rounds of golf and then off to the Daytona 500, and then returned again the first week of March for more golf.
McConnell isn’t a fool.
He sees what is going to happen as the cases of coronavirus mount and the deaths pile up. There were 558 people who died of COVID-19 on Monday in the United States. Tuesday, it will likely be more. Wednesday more. Thursday more.
With each and every day, people will see how badly Trump, who spent nearly two months downplaying the risk of the coronavirus, mishandled the pandemic.
We’re not expected to hit our peak in deaths for another two weeks. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, at the University of Washington, predicts we’ll top out on deaths on April 15 when it estimates 2,214 people will die.
Trump, who only recently predicted there would soon be “zero” cases in the United States, is now saying that if we hold deaths to 100,000 people, it will prove he did a “very good job.”
That’s not what McConnell thinks.
He says the president and his administration weren’t focused at a time when Trump was taking three trips to Florida and holding two Keep America Great rallies.
But what’s a little pandemic when you have golf and Trumpettes?