President Trump’s critics often accuse him of wanting to rule like a king.
But all too often it seems that only confusion reigns in his administration.
Politico reported on Wednesday that Vice President Mike Pence — Trump’s designated commander in the war to stop the rapidly spreading Covid-19 coronavirus — has put U.S. virus aid on hold following a bizarre debacle:
“Last week, a Trump administration official working to secure much-needed protective gear for doctors and nurses in the United States had a startling encounter with counterparts in Thailand.
“The official asked the Thais for help—only to be informed by the puzzled voices on the other side of the line that a U.S. shipment of the same supplies, the second of two so far, was already on its way to Bangkok.”
Alarmed by the apparent crossed wires, Trump aides put the shipment on hold for a review of virus-related aid procedures. They worried that such a snafu would confuse and offend U.S. allies and outrage Americans facing a ballooning death toll from the pandemic.
Pence’s task force was forced examine all aid deliveries to countries requesting personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to fight the outbreak, Politico says, citing “people directly involved in the discussions.”
All this disorder is unfolding against the backdrop of frantic efforts by officials of both parties to obtain equipment like ventilators for patients — and masks and gloves for health care workers, police, firefighters and others who come in direct contact with infected people.
The situation has provoked venomous reaction among Trump’s most vocal critics in Congress.
“Trump, you incompetent idiot! You sent 18 tons of PPE to China early but ignored warnings & called COVID19 concerns a hoax,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) wrote on Twitter on Monday, referring to aid the U.S. sent China in February.
The overall issue is — once again — disorganization and a failure of leadership.
“The problem is, there’s not one person who’s in charge of this,” a source “directly involved” in the Pence task force review told Politico.
“Officials close to USAID say the ongoing review is more akin to a hold, as the task force examines the aid agency’s procurement of supplies,” the political website says, “and asks aid officials to alert them if there are other such shipments [like the one to Thailand] in the works.”