Opinion: Pelosi is wrong on Trump

Jay Ambrose

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called the coronavirus “the Trump virus,” explaining that the president has caused deaths with his initial, ho-hum reaction to it. The verbal assault should be no surprise. After all, she said Republicans “were trying to get away with murder” on a police reform bill, and that Attorney General William Barr was a criminal. Please, do not suppose she is a shallow, divisive politician just because she also ripped a Trump speech in half on TV.

No, she is wisdom personified, according to Democratic colleagues, although she happens to be wrong about President Donald Trump’s service to the coronavirus, perhaps because some news reports were unappreciative of facts or context. For an answer, please first understand that until the end of January, nobody much was saying publicly that the virus was a big deal, certainly not China, the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control.

Then, after playing hide and seek with China and letting the virus spread pretty much everywhere, WHO admitted it was a global emergency, CDC said it was transmitted by human beings and Trump, who had already begun airport screenings for the virus, expanded them, making sure of quarantines if needed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., pulls down her mask to speak at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 16, 2020.

The Federalist notes a biggie, namely that Trump immediately suspended travel back and forth to China, causing Joe Biden to identify the move as “hysteria and xenophobia.” No, we were seeing caution that paid dividends, something missing in Biden’s rhetoric that was politically advantageous until truth got in the way, making it worthy of a Trump TV ad someday.

One more late January accomplishment was assembling a $105 million special task force to guide the anti-virus crusade. Then came February, a month of administrative actions demanding salutes. The list: developing a virus test; signing up a company to work on a vaccine and asking an informed Congress for $2.2 trillion to help stop this threat. The CDC also was working with a bunch of labs to keep tabs on what the virus was up to.

That’s not twiddling thumbs, Speaker Pelosi, although maybe you want to bring up the question of ventilators and Trump telling states to get them on their own, a media slip-up leading to public anger. What Trump actually said, according to a transcript supplied by the Federalist, was that the federal government would establish a means of helping the states but they could avoid the red-tape delays if they acted on their own. It was up to them, he said, and it’s up to the public to figure out why the press didn’t get it right.

Trump has certainly said foolish things and should have left more of the discussion up to Dr. Anthony Fauci, a superb aide who did not invite the press to sensationalize the trivial.

One Trump bumble was his saying he had the authority to tell governors what they had to do on reopening, an assertion rightly leading to critical bombardment, especially since he made it sound as if he had authority over everything. What’s amazing is that he was equally bombarded for letting the states pretty much figure out their own plans, which makes sense because every state is different and public health is their responsibility. There were still guidelines and Trump has fought for the reopening of schools. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees it can be safe, as do professors in programs at Harvard and Portland State University and Fauci, for instance, but Trump has come around to the Fauci view of not doing it in hot spots and all agree it must be done very carefully. Other analyses say a failure to act will do significant educational and other harm to children.

Trump didn’t like masks for a spell but has gotten over it and is once again more sensible than Biden. The ex-VP’s team put together a TV ad in which he calls for masks and social-distancing and then, at the end, is shown without a mask hugging and rubbing faces with people in a crowd without masks. Where’s Pelosi when you need her?

Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.