Back on March 12, I noted in this space that one of the most potent effects of our latest Chinese import would be as a weapon of political propaganda — a new club, that is to say, which the Dems would wield to beat President Trump.
It has taken a while for the Hephaestus of the Left to fashion the appropriate weapon. Back at the end of January, there was a brief moment where a stiletto was thought to be the weapon of choice. Trump suspended air travel from China of January 31: stab him with the charge of xenophobia, slice him with slur of racism, carve him up with the charge of overreacting.
Towards the end of February, however, there was a sudden shift in sentiment. There were hardly any cases, even fewer fatalities, but the public-health tea kettles were screaming panic. The market drove off a cliff and the order of the day changed from ‘Trump is overreacting’ to ‘Trump isn’t doing enough.’
The stiletto didn’t work. Time for the mace and battle ax.
In my view, the president’s first instinct was the correct one. ‘The public,’ I wrote on February 28, commenting on his first presser about the subject, ‘saw a president who, in his concern for the welfare of the American people, communicated sober competence and steady confidence. They also saw a press swept away by extraordinary delusions and partisan madness.’ I have always thought that shutting down the country in response to a pathogen which harmfully affects only a tiny part of the population — a part, moreover, that can be kept safe by less extreme measures — was madness. But the response to coronavirus cannot be understood in isolation from the part it has played in the larger anti-Trump melodrama.
Back in November 2016, there were lamentations throughout the Left and the NeverTrump former Right: how could this beast not from our tribe have snatched the great prize from our grasp? How could the ‘deplorable’ American public have failed to heed our wishes? Our orders were clear. And yet they disobeyed.
I thought the hysteria, and the blind hatred for Trump, would abate as the pussy-hats grew tired of screaming about the president’s crudity, and got back to their pilates and complaining about how unfair life in modern America was for women.
I was wrong; Jim Acosta and the other hysterics were in it for the long haul. They would never give up, never surrender. The Deep State went into overdrive, an immune system on red alert to expel the foreign invader. White cells from the FBI, the CIA, the State Department, and the Executive Branch were secreted into the system to destroy the pathogen that was Donald Trump.
First, there was the Russian Collusion Delusion — it mesmerized the country and obsessed the press for two years. The awesome police power of the state was brought down like a hammer on innocent people, destroying their careers. Despite their best efforts; a $35 million investigation; the howdy-doody public face of doddery G-Man Robert S. Mueller III, played by marionette master Andrew Weismann, a despicable specimen disgorged by the rotting corpse of the American legal system — despite all this, the multiagency conspiracy to prove that Donald Trump was part of a Russian conspiracy failed miserably. Indeed, it is still failing, and those mesmerized by the non-stop coverage of coronavirus might wish to pause to ponder the names John Durham and William Barr. That train has taken the long way around, but it is due in any moment and it will be loaded with freight.
The Russian Collusion Delusion had barely run out of steam when the insane ‘Ukraine Blame Game’ got underway. It was always a total sham and fizzled out, not with the bang of removing the president from office, but with the whimper of a totally partisan bit of grandstanding melodrama.
But as I say, they never stop. Someone woke up and said: ‘Let’s make up a story about how Trump colluded with the Russians to steal the election and then we can get rid of him.’ They gave it their best shot, but it didn’t work. Then someone said, ‘Trump talked to the president of Ukraine and mentioned Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Let’s try to impeach him over it!’ That didn’t work either.
So now they’ve gotten a nasty virus. The public panicked, the market crashed, millions are out of work. And some said, ‘Let’s blame Trump for the virus and do everything we can to prolong the lockdown, which will keep the economy, one of Trump’s greatest boasts, in shambles.’
We don’t yet know how this new assault will play out, but we can see the order of battle and discern the major troop movements. Jonathan Chait, writing in New York magazine, arrived on cue with ‘Trump’s Entire Coronavirus Response Is Massive Political Corruption’, his usual sort of inconsequential light artillery, a congeries of tendentious anti-Trump assertions backed up with links that supported each assertion with more assertions and no evidence. You come away knowing that Jonathan Chait doesn’t like Donald Trump, but then you could have guessed that anyway.
The New York Times, our old paper of record, began wheeling in the heavy artillery about a week ago and has fired one barrage after the next. Bang: ‘He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus’. Crash: ‘Trump’s Slow Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic’. Kaboom: ‘Criticized for Pandemic Response, Trump Tries Shifting Blame to the WHO’. Yesterday, we had Thomas ‘I-like-China’ Friedman warning that ‘Trump Is Asking Us to Play Russian Roulette With Our Lives’. I admired the way he got ‘Russia’ into the story, hoping, no doubt, that the echo of investigations past would count against the president. The Times followed up that pathetic column with ‘The Coronavirus in America: The Year Ahead’, an interminable ‘1619-Project’-style spread in which multiple ‘experts’ shouted that Trump had done too little too late, and that any attempt to open up the country would be tantamount to murder. I particularly liked the scary Diane Arbus-like black-and-white photographs, especially the one of huge refrigerator trucks being used as a makeshift morgue to store bodies. Nice touch, boys.
Will the corona cavalcade be any more effective as an anti-Trump assault weapon than the Russian Collusion Delusion or the lame Ukraine blame game? I doubt it. But the Dems do have one big advantage this time around. The hysteria that they help fan and spread has taken a woeful toll on the economy; people are suffering. One of Donald Trump’s biggest achievements was to have fostered an America-first spirit which saw rising wages, especially at the bottom, and culminated in historically low unemployment. That has all been crushed, much to the evident delight of Nancy ‘I-have-two-refrigerators-full-of-exotic-ice-cream’ Pelosi.
If, when November comes around, we are facing double digit unemployment and a marcescent stock market, Trump will face an uphill battle, even against a senile political relic like Joe Biden.
But we really do not know what things will look like come the fall. It is a good sign that the market has gained back more than half of its losses in just a couple of weeks. We’ll see what the situation for jobs looks like when the country reopens for business. Overseeing the safe progress of that economic apocatastasis is Trump’s primary focus now — there are some good preliminary glimmers. But the road ahead will be long and arduous. You can be sure that the left will greet every success with dire imprecations. The Babylon Bee, our new paper of record, had a good preview of coming attractions in a story from last week: ‘Vicious Tyrant Trump Wants To Let People Leave Their Homes’. Expect to see that picked up and recycled in the New York Times and other sources of rabid anti-Trump sentiment.