Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Abby Zimet: A Very Good Job (At Slow-Rolling, Mass Negligent Homicide)

On a day the U.S. saw over 139,000 cases and at least 2,425 deaths, the ever-classy Trump boasted his briefings’ “ratings” reached “Bachelor Finale, Monday Night Football type numbers.” The photo of these bodybags was taken by an anonymous New York City hospital nurse who said he wanted to show “the ghastly reality” of COVID-19 deaths.

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Nigh on speechless: Thanks to months of criminal-level denial, delay, extortion, ineptitude, “hoax” bullshit and then the breezy claim a U.S. coronavirus death rate of 100,000-ish would show he’d done “a very good job,” Trump said Tuesday that the country could see up to 240,000 deaths – an obscenely preventable number that dwarfs the roughly 3,500 deaths in China, with over four times our population, as well as deaths in Italy and Spain. The scale of Trump’s governmental failure, “so complete and so sweeping it borders on the incomprehensible,” began as far back as January – or in truth three years ago – with a White House that was a “ghost town of scientific expertise…rudderless, blindsided, lethargic, and uncoordinated.” It remains on grotesque display every day as COVID-19 spreads and Trump has “chosen to stand down, do nothing, let people die and (let) it ravage America” – especially, grotesquely, its blue states. Left to their own devices by a leader who miraculously hasn’t heard about any problems with testing, states are struggling to get masks, beds, gloves, ventilators and other vital equipment from a narcissistic toddler-cum-mob-boss who’s repulsively playing politics with people’s lives by demanding fealty first.

In hard-hit New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has described an insane “eBay-style” bidding war for ventilators between all 50 states plus FEMA; the week before, he asked for two million masks, and got sent 78,000, all marked expired. California, which has seen their cases quickly double, was sent 170 ventilators that didn’t work. Illinois received 325,000 of a requested 7.4 million gloves, none of the requested 47,000 goggles and 4,000 respirators, and 247,000 of a needed 2.34 million masks – and they were the wrong kind. This, while a deranged lout posing as a leader floats incendiary conspiracy theories about health workers hoarding masks and respirators because…umm…Heroic, furious, overworked doctors and nurses have started speaking up, wondering if anyone in this feckless administration has been inside a hospital in the last few weeks (or in their lives), and posting evidence of the chaos. “I’m a physician at a hospital in NYC and THIS IS THE “PPE” I WAS JUST HANDED for my shift,” wrote one doctor on the furious new hashtag #TrumpGenocide, alongside a photo of a crappy rain poncho you can get for a buck on a street corner. “Our federal government has completely failed its health care workers. #GetUsPPE.” The feds  did, though, just add guns to “essential” items to have during a pandemic, so there’s that.

As Trump’s macabre rallies/briefings go on with their lies, boasts, threats, insults – “That woman in Michigan.” Really? – many are pushing back with increasingly brutal language. “The president’s denial at the beginning was deadly,” Nancy  Pelosi told CNNon Sunday. “As the president fiddles, people are dying.” CNN host Chris Cuomo, Andrew’s brother, slammed Trump’s traits of ignorance and arrogance for “literally making us sick” a few days before he himself tested positive for the virus, warning, “If the federal government and the states don’t get it together, you will see sickness and death in this country like you never have before.” Cuoma also ripped Trump for his vile Godfather-ish comments on governors – “I want them to be appreciative…If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.” Nope, said Cuomo: “Our money, our government, our power. We gave it to you. We don’t serve you. You serve us.” Trump’s incompetence and abuse of power, many commentators have argued, will be studied for generations as historic disasters. “What’s happened in Washington has been a fiasco of incredible proportions,” wrote one. “We are witnessing one of the greatest failures of governance and basic leadership in modern times.”

Rachel Maddow also didn’t hold back when, after she interviewed an Army Corps of Engineers general, a clueless Trump thanked her for “showing how GREAT a job the Federal Government is doing!” Not so fast, said Maddow, who proceeded to rip him a new one for “personally leading the worst national response of any industrialized nation.” “I say this without any malice at all, but please know that the US response is a catastrophe that is on track to cost hundreds of thousands of lives.” Sounding notably presidential and starting with “stop talking about yourself,” she laid out all the things he should have already done – nationalize supply chains for medical supplies, get rid of Pence and Jared so experts can lead, tell states to issue stay-home orders, get people out of prisons, mass test and isolate and contact trace, mobilize wartime-levels of health workers. “You’re failing to do any of that. Any of it. Any of it. You’re failing on every measure,” she wrote. “Please, sir, get out of the way.” In a searing editorial, The Boston Globe echoed her, but less politely. As a result of ceaseless blunders and cruelties by a sick man who “embodies callousness, self-concern, and a lack of compass,” it said, “The president has blood on his hands.” The pandemic has revealed his dismal failures “at the cost of lives, livelihoods, and our collective psyche…Come November, there must be a reckoning.” And then, the Hague.

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From the hashtag #GetUsPPE: “I’m a physician at a hospital in NYC and THIS IS THE “PPE” I WAS JUST HANDED for my shift. Our federal government has completely failed its health care workers.”


First published in Common Dreams.

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