The media are apparently determined to undermine President Trump's response to the Wuhan coronavirus. No matter what actions he takes, they somehow simultaneously consider his strategy both excessive and underwhelming.
The only consistent theme since this novel coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, China is that it’s all somehow Donald Trump’s fault.
Liberal journalists complained that the president wasn’t taking the situation seriously enough when he tried to tamp down panic early in the crisis, even though he was merely citing the assessments of world-class health experts when he reported that the risk to Americans remained relatively low and suggested that people follow best practices such as hand washing and social distancing.
At the same time, the media thought he was overreacting — in fact, they called him a xenophobic racist — when he cut off entry to foreigners who had recently been to China, which at the time was the only country with a large number of cases. Trump-haters, including the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, Joe Biden, eagerly echoed the Chinese government's talking point that travel restrictions were a xenophobic “overreaction.”
The same pattern is playing itself out once again. After complaining for weeks that the administration wasn’t taking the threat seriously enough, the president’s critics are now echoing the complaints of foreign governments about the measures he unveiled Wednesday night in his Oval Office address to the nation.
The situation report President Trump delivered to the nation was a somber and serious one. It outlined exactly how swiftly and proactively the government has acted to limit the risk to Americans, and made clear that the administration is prepared to ramp up its efforts as necessary. Several dozen Americans are already dead, and more will die in the coming weeks, regardless of what the president does or does not do. The name of the game now is limiting the damage and protecting the most vulnerable.
That’s precisely why President Trump declared a national emergency on Friday, freeing up more than $40 billion to ensure that coronavirus patients with the most severe symptoms have access to world-class medical care.
Following the same protocol that effectively limited our exposure in the early days of the outbreak, the United States has cut off travel from the European Union, where the pandemic is out of control in Spain, France, and especially Italy, and risks spreading to the rest of the EU due to open borders travel policies. On Thursday, President Trump acknowledged that conditions may eventually warrant more drastic measures in some cases, alluding to the full quarantine underway in New Rochelle, New York.
The president did not downplay the situation or sugarcoat the reality with euphemisms. He gave us the straight facts: more quarantines may be needed in the hardest-hit American communities, but together we will defeat this pandemic.
There is no panacea. No matter what steps the government takes, the Chinese coronavirus will inflict some degree of pain and suffering in the United States. President Trump has carefully calibrated his approach to balance the need for vigorous, robust action with the need for calm, sober thinking on the part of both public health experts and ordinary citizens. For that, his opponents in the mainstream media shamelessly attack him for being both too passive and too aggressive.
There’s no issue on which any president can make everyone happy, but this global pandemic, which threatens both lives and livelihoods, is a particularly hard needle to thread. President Trump is threading that needle, and he’s doing it even while contending with a biased press that has never been happy with any action he has ever taken on any issue.
Madison Gesiotto is an Ohio attorney, former Miss Ohio USA and an opinion contributor for The Hill