During interviews earlier this month with the House select subcommittee on the pandemic, Dr. Deborah Birx conceded that the Trump administration was “distracted” from its work on COVID-19 because of the election, and that the administration’s early failures likely led to as many as 130,000 unnecessary deaths.
The best thing you can say about Birx is that she didn’t want to turn the entire country into a giant McDonald’s Playland ball pit slathered in goopy pestilence like “Dr.” Scott Atlas, the guy who mesmerized Donald Trump with his “let’s murder millions of Americans and just get it over with” pandemic strategy.
While Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator under Trump, appears to have shaded the truth at times last year, she’s now free from the fetters of Führer Fuckup and can tell the truth—and she’s taking advantage.
The Washington Post:
Birx, who sat for interviews with the subcommittee on Oct. 12 and 13, also detailed advice that she said the White House ignored late last year, including more aggressively testing younger Americans, expanding access to virus treatments and better distributing vaccines in long-term care facilities.
More than 130,000 American lives could have been saved with swifter action and better coordinated public health messages after the virus’ first wave, Birx told lawmakers.
“I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30-percent less, to 40-percent less range,” Birx said.
I have some sympathy for Birx. I’ve had bosses who thought they knew everything but actually knew bupkis—but nothing can possibly compare to the bumblefuck bomb cyclone of chickenshit and flop sweat that is Donald John Trump. So Birx was almost certainly lying last March when she said this of Trump: “He’s been so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data. I think his ability to analyze and integrate data that comes out of his long history in business has really been a real benefit during these discussions about medical issues.”
Uh, sure. The only time Trump is ever attentive to the “details and the data” is when he checks to make sure they didn’t short him on his McNugget order again. This is like hyping Mike Pence’s preternatural knack for scoring molly at Burning Man. Not believable, in other words.
So while Birx’s transparent “Trump-loves-the-details” bullshit undermined her credibility, at least she’s fessing up now that his capos can no longer get to her.
Birx also noted that Trump’s election-season push to pretend that he’d done a great job on the pandemic distracted him and his administration from actually addressing the crisis. “I felt like the White House had gotten somewhat complacent through the campaign season,” she told the subcommittee. She also stated that the election “just took people’s time away from and distracted them away from the pandemic, in my personal opinion.”
It’s nice to get confirmation on that from someone on the inside, but that was pretty fucking obvious when Trump said this during a campaign rally last October: “All you hear is COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID. That’s all they put on, because they want to scare the hell out of everyone.”
He also insisted that the media were going to stop covering COVID-19 after the election, too, because the only reason they ever mentioned it was to make Trump look bad. As if he needed help.
Birx was also asked directly if Trump “did everything he could to try to mitigate the spread of the virus and save lives during the pandemic.” Her answer? A blunt, “No.”
Though that’s a little unfair. Obviously Trump’s suggestions of universally injecting bleach and irradiating our assholes with UV lights would have ended the pandemic in no time—and Scott Atlas would have been tickled pink. And Birx knows this! She was sitting right there when Trump suggested it, looking like a general practitioner whose patient just told her he saves money by doing home colonoscopies with a Polaroid camera and selfie stick.
Of course, once again, a Democrat was tasked with stating the obvious. “The Trump White House’s prioritization of election year politics over the pandemic response—even as cases surged last fall—is among the worst failures of leadership in American history,” said South Carolina Rep. James E. Clyburn, chair of the subcommittee.
That’s pretty apparent, but stating the obvious is by no means a given in Congress these days.
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