None of this should be a surprise. None of it.
That a president who readily lies, peddles in conspiracy theories, doesn’t prepare, doesn’t engage with complexity, is hostile to science and experts, sees the world in terms of his own narrow personal interests, prioritizes optics over policy, is reckless and careless with his public statements, sows confusion as he tackles talking points, promotes loyalty over competence, that such a man and the sycophants with whom he has entrenched his inner circle should struggle with a complicated public health crisis should be no surprise.
For years, reporters who have covered the administration closely have shared many inside anonymous sources who paint a picture of dysfunction emanating from the Oval Office at a level that is breathtaking, and chilling. Where are these voices now who can speak up on the record?
A crisis like this one would test the most competent administration. But all one needs to do is look at the responses of different countries, particularly the mobilization in South Korea which is being lauded by public health officials, to understand how lacking the response is in the United States so far.
At this point, the number of infections in the United States is low, and we have to hope it stays that way, but at the same time prepare for the worst. I know many Americans do not see this president as legitimate, but whether they like it or not he is in charge of the government. Our public health is largely in his hands, as well as state and local officials. We have to root for the success of our government, at all levels. But they must be held accountable, especially by the press. And as potential bad news mounts, expect more attacks on responsible journalism by the president.
This virus is a reminder that ultimately, we are all in this world together. As much as some might want to build walls, real or metaphorical, as much as some might want to stoke division or foment turmoil for their own political gain, they can’t undermine the fundamentals of nature and biology. We are far more alike than we are different. That’s why we can get the same diseases, but it’s also why we can make great progress if we work together. Hopefully, we can emerge from this current test more resolute and united, as a nation, and the broader world. I know at this point it might seem to be a faint hope, but I do believe most people in this world would rather live in a world that worked more for the common good.