— Kyle Morse (@Kyle_A_Morse) March 13, 2020
Donald Trump just held a press conference to declare a national emergency to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus, but the main takeaway for many people may wind up being something he said in the Q&A afterward.
After Trump gave his characteristic rambling, self-aggrandizing speech—in which he, of course, seemed more interested in claiming he’s the victim of unfairly bad press rather than actually helping anyone—a reporter asked if he takes responsibility for the ongoing lack of adequate testing for the virus. His response was something you don’t often expect to hear from presidents—well, except this one. He replied, “I don’t take any responsibility at all.”
Of course, he also went with his favorite tactic of “shift the blame to Barack Obama” by talking about the H1N1 “Swine Flu” response, but as RawStory points out, “The Obama administration declared an emergency about a week after the problem was discovered and by this time in the process they had tested 1 million people. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the mortality rate for the disease in the United States was 0.002 percent.”
Meanwhile, the whole thing appeared to just be a stock market-reassuring parade (coincidentally presented riiiight before the closing bell), as Trump trotted out representatives from major U.S. corporations to talk about their role in helping the government with its response. He also hit his familiar xenophobia by claiming that an important step in the response has been shutting down borders, despite the fact that cases of the disease coming from abroad are most likely coming from air travel that hasn’t been shut down in any sense, and inbound passengers have, so far, been subjected to little screening.
But all of that is beside the point to Donald Trump, for whom this is, as everything else, an exercise in public relations. It’s been clear the entire time that the government’s delayed response has been due to his hopes that the disease would just pass by—something he still seems insistent is possible—with no one being the wiser as long as additional cases weren’t verified by testing. As usual, he’s more concerned with trying to control how the story reflects on him than he is with actually helping anyone else.
And of course, as always, there’s a tweet for everything. Here is the very same man, in 2013, claiming that leadership is about taking responsibility, whatever happens or doesn’t happen:
Leadership: Whatever happens, you’re responsible. If it doesn’t happen, you’re responsible.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2013
If Donald Trump is trying to tell us he’s not a leader, at least he’s gotten something right.
(image: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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