Bob Franken




I t’s a sad commentary on the United States when you have to wonder if either side is telling the truth when you see a spat between our government and China.
China’s leaders cannot be trusted; we all know that. We’ve had that pounded into our heads as part of our indoctrination — er, education — from our first days of school. And we’ve had it reinforced watching TV, with its “Americans are always the good guys” presentations.
What we are not taught is that U.S. leaders engage in propaganda too, providing the straight scoop only when it’s convenient. That’s particularly the case with our president, Donald Trump, whose credibility is nonexistent after years of constantly lying through his teeth.
That has certainly been a major factor in his failure to get people to follow him as he tries to guide us through the twists and turns of the biggest crisis of all: the attack on the world by the vicious coronavirus. It’s that plus the pathetic performance of the administration he’s assembled. His every utterance bespeaks fact-challenged ignorance and reeks of self-serving politics, as opposed to effectively dealing with the “invisible enemy.”
He and his appointees have done such a poor job that his A-No. 1 priority has become the search for scapegoats. He’s settled on China, where the virus originated, and whose dismal job of informing the world wasted precious weeks, because their candor was clearly incomplete.
Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, is point man in the battle over blame-placing with China. Pompeo takes a shot, for instance, suggesting that COVID was the result of some embarrassing-to-China laboratory mishap in Wuhan. He presents not a shred of evidence to back up his version, knowingly inspiring conspiracy theorists that it was really a plot by Beijing’s leaders to spread the virus. China responds on state TV, that Pompeo is “spitting poison” and “telling lies,” with one commentator even ridiculing the United States as “narrow, self-interested, buck-passing; not the world’s No. 1.”

Certainly the U.S. is pathetically demonstrating a lack of tenacity as it abandons the strict restrictions that were the only approaches that made any headway against the coronavirus. With COVID spreading through many states that had avoided its devastation until now, even rural areas, with the disease killing upwards of 2,000 Americans every day, governors are buckling from the first rumblings of uncertainty and opening up businesses like hair salons and the like, which will only make the death toll increase. Apparently, the national political will has had enough of safety and has caved to minor pressure from some right-wing crazies, many of them carrying loaded weapons to their protest events.
Obviously many of the governors are intimidated by them and/or by Trump and are in various stages of removing the social distancing barriers to coronavirus, which were the only approach that worked at all in preventing thousands from getting the oftentimes lethal disease.
Meanwhile, the Trumpster and his cronies had made such a mess of the medical response that he was trying to change the subject. Now, he decreed, he would focus on the recovery of the devastated economy; never mind that it will never recover if we ignore the continuing carnage.
He even tried to disband the public health task force that had served as a backdrop for his damaging bloviating. Still, when it wasn’t distracted by his self-aggrandizement it did manage to eke out some constructive work.
So the president decided to shut down the task force focused on fighting the pandemic and surrender that battle in favor of an effort to rescue the economy with still another task force.
For all his bluster, President Trump is a frightened man. There was an uproar, so he backed down. There will be two task forces, or some combined hybrid that will focus on all the coronavirus stuff. Or at least that’s the Donald Trump spin on things. Do you believe him?
© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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