In a convention where a genuine fact might die of loneliness, the biggest lies are all about COVID-19. That’s quite a claim at an event where a parade of wealthy Republicans is taking the stand to claim different varieties of victimhood, and where speakers are painting a vision of what will happen when Trump departs the White House that would make Hieronymus Bosch run screaming. However, while lying about the economy is bad, and lying about Donald Trump being a “uniter” is simply ridiculous, lying about how we ended up as the worst of the worst when it comes to reacting to COVID-19 is dangerous.
It’s dangerous not just because Trump continues to promote quack “cures,” continues to override experts on both policy and treatment, and continues to undercut the need for action. It’s dangerous because the way the RNC is presenting Trump as someone who “understood the threat” while Democrats and the media “downplayed the danger” is such an obvious 180-degree inversion of reality that just presenting it displays an amazing contempt for facts, science, and history that isn’t even history yet. It’s not just that Donald Trump is covering up failure. He’s covering up genocide.
The chart at the top of this article hasn’t been updated in weeks, but it’s still a guide to some of the statements that Trump was making even as COVID-19 marched across the nation. Far from taking COVID-19 seriously, Trump was playing golf, making flu jokes with Sean Hannity, and generally basking in the warm afterglow of Republicans handing him a free pass by not calling so much as a single witness to his impeachment hearing.
It wasn’t until the near end of this chart that Trump showed up in the (then unmutilated) Rose Garden with an array of Big-Box CEOs to announce a national testing strategy that would involve tens of thousands of parking lot testing centers coordinated by a website to route patients and provide results. The website was a lie. Those centers never appeared. And it wasn’t until July that we learned that Trump killed the whole idea of having coordinated testing as attempted genocide against states governed by Democrats. Trump’s “political instincts” were that it was better to continue downplaying concerns about COVID-19, keep the federal government out of the testing business, and let citizens of Blue states simply die. Trump dumped the whole idea of launching a testing plan.
It wasn’t difficult to see the impact that a national program of testing and case tracing could have. Not only did South Korea use that strategy to wrangle an early epidemic there into one of the great success stories of the pandemic, but even nations as hard hit as Italy were able to use testing in conjunction with a tough national lockdown to stop the virus in its tracks. At one point, Italy had far more cases and far more deaths than the United States. Now it has a fraction of either, and the rate of new cases there is lower than many individual states.
Donald Trump’s response to COVID-19 wasn’t just the worst on the planet. It wasn’t just malignant incompetence. It was intentionally bad. Trump did less than he could have done on purpose, in the hopes that he could make political gains by pointing fingers at Democratic governors as Americans died. And he did. Trump went to war with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, refused to talk to him, failed to provide requested assistance, and saying “I want them to be appreciative” before providing any help. He did the same with attacks on Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. And on other Democratic governors who were complaining as Trump refused to start a testing program, refused to support a national lockdown, refused to centralize purchases of protective gear and medications, and actually confiscated materials purchased by blue states to send to his favored red states.
Trump’s handling of COVID-19 hasn’t been bungled or mishandled or poor. It’s been murder. It’s been deliberate. It’s been death-as-a-political-strategy. And now the Trump convention is running film clips from Thailand as part of a propaganda piece claiming it was Trump who took the virus seriously, Trump who took action, and Trump who whatever.
This level of propaganda might not quite match that of the Nazis … but it’s getting damn close. Not only should Trump’s actions in canceling a national testing strategy be the subject of a second impeachment, they are crimes against humanity deserving of a trial before the world. That the media is sitting quietly by as Trump claims to be the hero of the crisis he created, should be the focus of outrage.