Fall From Grace …

Today, being hard-pressed for both time and energy, I share The Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson’s post from yesterday, for his views mirror my own …


The United States is a country to be pitied

Eugene-RobinsonBy Eugene Robinson, Columnist

May 14, 2020 at 5:37 p.m. EDT

Only a handful of nations on Earth have arguably done a worse job of handling the coronavirus pandemic than the United States. What has happened to us? How did we become so dysfunctional? When did we become so incompetent?

The shocking and deadly failures by President Trump and his administration have been well documented — we didn’t isolate, we didn’t test, we didn’t contact trace, we waited too long to lock down. But Trump’s gross unfitness is only part of the problem. The phrase “American exceptionalism” has always meant different things to different people — that this nation should be admired, or perhaps that it should be feared. Not until now, at least in my lifetime, has it suggested that the United States should be pitied.

No amount of patriotism or pride can change the appalling facts. The pandemic is acting as a stress test for societies around the world, and ours is in danger of failing.

I’m used to thinking of a nation such as South Korea as a kind of junior partner, a beneficiary of American expertise and aid. Yet the U.S. death toll from covid-19 exceeds 85,000 while South Korea’s fatalities total 260. That is not a typo. How could a nation with barely half our per capita income have done so much better? Washington has been Seoul’s patron and teacher for more than six decades, yet somehow we apparently have unlearned much of what we taught.

Much closer to home, Trump’s boasting about how his border wall is supposedly helping protect Americans against the virus is a joke. Mexico’s reported death rate from covid-19 is a small fraction of ours (though the numbers may be higher than the official count). In the border town of Nogales, Mexican authorities are using disinfectant spray to sanitize visitors arriving from Arizona.

How could it be that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which I always thought of as the premier public health agency in the world, so completely botched the development of a test for the novel coronavirus? We have by far the biggest economy in the world, and we believe we have the most advanced science. Yet for the first months of the pandemic, as the coronavirus silently spread, we were essentially blind. By the time we had eyes on the enemy, it was too late.

We have managed to slow the spread of the virus, but I worry we lack the social cohesion to stay the course. On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court invalidated Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) extension of his stay-at-home order. By evening, bars in some Wisconsin cities were packed — no social distancing, no masks. In Milwaukee and several other jurisdictions, however, orders by local officials kept the bars closed. What are the Wisconsin cities that remain closed supposed to do? Set up roadblocks to keep outsiders away?

The Florida Keys have done just that: Since March 27, checkpoints have been in place to keep visitors from entering the island chain — which has seen just 95 cases of covid-19 and only three deaths. The America I know, or thought I knew, is one of restlessness, free movement, open roads. Until there is a vaccine, post-covid America may be very different.

Thanks to Trump, we have no coherent national plan to survive the pandemic. But also thanks to the federal government — and I include Congress as well as the president — we lack the kind of sturdy economic safety net that protects unemployed workers and shut-down business owners in some of the hardest-hit European countries — nations that once looked up to the United States as a model. In the Netherlands, for example, the government is granting employers up to 90 percent of their payroll costs so they can keep paying their workers rather than resort to furloughs or layoffs. That kind of continuity ought to speed recovery when reopening becomes safe.

Here, nearly 40 million workers have filed for unemployment.

The European Union is working with the World Health Organization and other wealthy nations such as Japan and Saudi Arabia in a crash program to develop a covid-19 vaccine, with initial funding of $8 billion. The United States has decided to go it alone with its own vaccine program, “Operation Warp Speed.” In the past, one might have bet on U.S. ingenuity and drive to win the race. But given our failure in testing, would you still make that bet now? And why is there a race at all, rather than a U.S.-led global effort?

The covid-19 pandemic has exposed the depth of America’s fall from greatness. Ridding ourselves of Trump and his cronies in November will be just the beginning of our work to restore it.

9 thoughts on “Fall From Grace …

  1. We talk a lot about trump and how awhile is, which he is indeed, but it’s really his cult…that 40% who run this show.

    Think about it..the religious right wants to do away with separation of church and state and many believe god actually sent trump. So trump and the republicans pander to them….for the vote.

    The racists love trump for his racism and bigotry, misogyny and “they are very fine people” comments. So again trump and his cohorts pander to them…. for the vote.

    And many of this cult are of the “we love our freedoms” and no one can tell us what to do, so we go armed with AR-15s to some state capitols for so called protests (peaceful?), so trump panders to them …for the vote, because if businesses open up its good for him.

    The only place he does not pander is too the super wealthy with tax advantages for the wealthy because he is one of them. But he does pander to the working man, the retired veteran and small businessman and panderIng is all it is, as he couldn’t care less….for the vote.

    Pandering is not new, but when it’s to this large of a segment and they are true believers and hold the future of the country in their mindset, who really is running the show?

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  2. This article is so true, Jill. No country can be complacent, because the virus is out there and we have no defence except public health measures and massive testing. However, when I look at the figures for the States, I wonder how such a strong and vibrant country can be reduced to this. Trump and his cronies must play a big part, but do you also think that there are other underlying factors, such as lack of universal health care?

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  3. Jill, The Guardian ran a story today about how “horrified” folks around the globe are ar how badly America has handled COVID-19. And, “The Lancet,” the professional publications ripped the US lesdership’s handling of the COVID-19 response.

    In essence, the president swung and whiffed at a ball on the tee in January, when he could have been the president we needed. Instead, he resorted to misinformation, his modus operandi. Robinson is accurate in his assessment. Keith.

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  4. After the total mismanagement of Coronavirus I would think the Republicans might want to impeach Trump themselves before he gets into the swing of a campaign like the last one. A well run campaign and well behaved by Pence would surely be preferable. He might even get them the next four years. Ha, only joking. The whole lot of them have been disgusting in their following of Trump, they all deserve to go.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suspect some republican senators are kicking themselves in the patooties right about now for not getting rid of the problem in February when they had the chance! Think of the grief and the lives they could have saved. Sigh. I’ve heard that some republicans who DON’T support Trump are planning their own convention in the fall. It won’t matter, will only be for show, but it still speaks volumes. Hah … your joke was of the sick variety! I agree … the fewer of them there are, the better off we’ll all be. Now to make the voters see that!
      Cwtch

      Liked by 1 person

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