A Deaf Ear to Empathy
Terry H. Schwadron
Nov. 16, 2020
I gave in to momentary curiosity that Donald Trump was finally going to speak about our raging new winter wave coronavirus, only to learn anew that Dear Leader remains without empathy for anyone but himself — in fact to claim credit for Pfizer’s announced vaccine that specifically had been done independently of Operation Warp Speed.
Trump never even mentioned that 1,000 are now dying each day — a rate that may mean another 60,000 during the remainder of his watch, never mind doing the right thing in asking for people to adhere to even normal precautions during what is an obvious national emergency.
He only said that he’s done a great job — skipping over the obvious.
What I did hear was that, as someone living in New York, he wants to deny me any corona vaccine that emerges in his last two months as president just because he has a personal pique with the governor here.
This was no surprise, of course, since if you look up personal politics and ego-centrism, you’ll see a picture of Donald Trump. But since he is relentlessly trying to drum up support for overturning the results of a “fraudulent” election, it seemed a pretty dumb thing on which to focus. And it does nothing to change the alarming contagion trends.
I was willing to hear that the next period might be complicated, getting this promising vaccine approach through the shoals of final clinical review and approvals, to set up what seems a daunting logistical maze for distribution and to seek public calm through a request for general acceptance of masks and physical distancing as a better alternative than shutdowns.
But there was none of that. I found myself angry all over again that this is someone who wants to be president without doing the job, as well as an individual with a tin ear for caring. Other than for self-affirmation, why does he want the job, especially when a majority of Americans have shown him the door.
That the current wave of COVID is the worst that it has been since last February seems without question. The open question is why the federal government seems to be doing less than ever to stop its spread.
The idea that this new wave has resulted from increased testing is ludicrous. Hospitalizations are through the roof in states across the country, and the rate of case growth is nearly vertical on graphs. Trump gatherings, in particular, and Republican states in general have been resistant to cheap, easy adherence to use of masks. Trump’s acceptance of a herd-immunity approach that guarantees massive death is the reigning policy.
This should not be about personal politics. We did not pursue aggressive preparation programs because Trump saw coronavirus as a political liability. Trump has pushed responsibility to the states while not providing financial assistance — and then criticizing states that have moved in ways to stop spread. His protestations aside, Trump has proved inconsistent in backing aid packages that would have helped restaurants, small businesses and schools properly outfit themselves.
The feds did take a lot of steps, of course, but they were uncoordinated across the country and did not lead to any shared acceptance of responsibility or commitment to stop disease spread.
What We Hear
I don’t offer Trump advice. But I will say that what I and my masked neighbors in Harlem and in upstate New York do not want to hear is now that vaccines are starting to come to market, I still have to hear that because I live in New York, this president thinks I don’t deserve to participate, that he will not authorize vaccines for an entire state that votes Democratic, that may prosecute him, that has a governor who stands up to him.
It is attempted blackmail for adulation. I won’t be a hostage to Trump’s incendiary deafness to an emergency.
Apart from all else, what New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and seven others have said is that they will be monitoring the FDA approval process to ensure that Trump just doesn’t skip the science — an necessary effort to build public confidence in vaccines at a time when Trump is trashing it.
In a Washington Post op-ed, two political scientists studying the issue concluded that it was politics, not contagion spread, that dictated the school districts across the country that decided whether schools would be closed.
“A new study we conducted, examining some 10,000 school districts across the country — some 75 percent of the total — remarkably finds essentially no connection between COVID-19 case rates and decisions regarding schools. Rather, politics is shaping the decisions: The two main factors that determined whether a school district opened in-person were the level of support in the district for Donald Trump in 2016 and the strength of teachers’ unions,” the pair reported.
We all know people who’ve gotten sick from coronavirus and those who have died. By what self-serving right does Trump, who himself was treated successfully, ignore the effects on health, jobs, home schooling pressures and the elimination of concerts and culture?
Living with the bizarre and awful effects of global pandemic is bad enough. What we don’t need is a Donald Trump continuing to make this about his political fate — the election is over, even if he doesn’t like the results.