A physician friend recently asked me if I knew why Trump didn’t begin a Manhattan Project to speed development of a vaccine and therapeutics for COVID-19. It is a great question and another dramatic failure this administration will have to answer for. The Manhattan Project “was a research and development undertaken during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada.”
Instead, last week the Washington Post reported in a column titled “Chaotic search for virus treatments undermines effort” that “with more than 500 human clinical trials worldwide, the lack of coordination puts the world at risk of ending up with a raft of inconclusive and conflicting studies and little idea of what interventions work for the next wave of illness.”
They go on to write that finally “Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, the nation’s largest biomedical research agency, acknowledged researchers’ frustrations but said in an interview Wednesday he has been working behind the scenes to launch an unprecedented public-private partnership to address the problems. He said the framework involves top pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, domestic and international government agencies including the European Medicines Agency, and academic research centers.”
So why didn’t the president have a national strategy before this and why he didn’t start a Manhattan Project to coordinate all the research into finding both a therapeutic and a vaccine? Had this been done in February when the government knew what we were dealing with think how far ahead we would be at this time. Yet the president dithered and did nothing. Actually instead he kept claiming to have the constitutional authority to open the economy on his own and to close the Congress, both of which he has no ability to do. You have to wonder if Trump ever even read the Constitution.
This president is a moron and continues to prove it each day at the ridiculous press conference/political rally he holds each afternoon. He can also be considered a mass murderer. He has blood on his hands for how he has mishandled every aspect of this crisis.
We cannot blame him for COVID-19. He didn’t cause it. But we can and should blame him for his response — or egregious lack of one. He avoided using the full powers he has under the Defense Production Act, which “was enacted after the Korean War to ensure that the United States has enough supplies for its defense” early enough to make a real difference. We could have had more ventilators and enough PPE and swabs for testing, which would have saved lives including those of some of our dedicated healthcare workers. Instead we saw him play with business leaders, who he claimed as friends, and lacked the courage to act decisively. He plays at wielding power but won’t use it for the good of the people rather when he does use his power it redounds to his own good.
The bottom line for his every response to COVID-19 is whether it is useful as a marketing tool for Donald Trump. Even then he is proving his lack of smarts as his polling numbers are now dropping. He clearly doesn’t read anything and has no knowledge of the basic facts of the Constitution or other laws. He has surrounded himself with a cadre of sycophants who fear “telling truth to power” as they know if their truth doesn’t agree with his they will be out the door in a minute. What that has meant is experts like doctors Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx have to play to his ego simply to get him to listen to facts.
Despite Trump, we will survive this pandemic but we must vote to rid the nation and the world of scum like him on Nov. 3.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.