Trump, McConnell hid the truth; FDR, Barkley told the truth

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

President Trump said he didn’t tell us how lethal Covid-19 was because he didn’t want to cause a "panic.”

“That’s pretty rich coming from the guy who began his presidency with warnings about ‘American carnage’ and who’s currently trying to terrify suburbanites with visions of rampaging Antifa hordes,” Paul Krugman wrote in The New York Times. “But what exactly were the dangers of panic that worried him?”

Added Krugman, “Of course, we all had a pretty good idea...All through this crisis credible sources have reported that he wanted to downplay the crisis out of fear that bad news might hurt his beloved stock market. That is, he felt that he needed to sacrifice thousands of American lives to prop up the Dow.”

Krugman confessed that he’d “thought that Donald Trump’s disastrous mishandling of Covid-19 was basically negligence, even if that negligence was willful — that is, that he failed to understand the gravity of the threat because he didn’t want to hear about it and refused to take actions that could have saved thousands of American lives because actually doing effective policy isn’t his kind of thing.

“But I was wrong. According to Bob Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” Trump wasn’t oblivious; he knew by early February that Covid-19 was both deadly and airborne. And this isn’t a case of conflicting recollections: Woodward has Trump on tape. Yet Trump continued to hold large indoor rallies, disparage precautionary measures and pressure states to reopen business despite the risk of infection.

“And he’s still doing the same things, even now.

“In other words, a large fraction of the more than 200,000 Americans who will surely die of Covid-19 by Election Day will have been victims of something much worse than mere negligence.”

It's the president who panicked when Woodward's tapes started rolling on the TV news. Scared stiff, he shifted, warp speed, into full CYA mode and did what he almost always does--lie.  

In his desperation to save himself and his beleaguered presidency, Trump also revealed a decided lack of faith in the intestinal fortitude of We The People. Did Trump really think if he told us the truth about the pandemic, we’d hide under our beds or run screaming into the streets?

Anyway, going on 79 years ago, America faced an even greater peril, one that threatened our very survival as a nation. But that earlier president in office was convinced that the American people were up to the crisis, and he leveled with them from the start.

“The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces," Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his war message to Congress on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

FDR outlined the full, frightening scope of Japan's aggression. Besides hitting Hawaii, the Japanese attacked British Malaya and Hong Kong and U.S. held Guam, Wake and Midway islands, and the Philippines.    

"No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory," he warned.

"I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

"Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

"With confidence in our armed forces ["losers" and "suckers," according to Trump], with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God."

America didn't panic when FDR told the truth, as sobering and unnerving it was to a nation that for more than two years had managed to stay out of World War II. 

Pearl Harbor propelled tens of thousands of volunteers into the armed forces. "Remember Pearl Harbor!" became a national war cry.

FDR had expressed the same openness and candor with the American people as he led the country through the Great Depression, our worst economic crisis. He had confidence in them, and they with him, electing him in 1932 and reelecting him in 1936 and 1940.

While Trump lied to us about the coronavirus pandemic, history instructs that FDR didn’t pull punches with John and Jane Q Citizen over Pearl Harbor.

While Trump refused -- and still refuses -- to take decisive presidential leadership to combat Covid-19, FDR lost no time using his office to unite the people and put the country on a war footing.  

Meanwhile, it’s hard to believe that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump’s chief enabler, didn’t know what the president knew about the coronavirus. But mum was the word from him, too.   

McConnell, a Republican like Trump, likes to compare himself to Democrat Alben Barkley, a fellow Kentuckian who was FDR’s majority leader. On Dec. 9, the day after Congress declared war on Japan, Sen. Barkley warned that it would be a big mistake “for the American people not to assume that this war with Japan will be a long war.”

“The bottom line is that it’s wrong to say that Trump mishandled Covid-19, that his response was incompetent,” Krugman concluded. “No it wasn’t; it was immoral, bordering on criminal.”

Ditto for McConnell's acquiescence in Trump's Covid-19 con--and his eager partnership in the rest of Trump's scam against workaday Americans that the president started the day he was sworn in.  

“I didn’t look at the Woodward book,” ABC News quoted McConnell's predictable cop-out after the you-know-what hit the fan. “I will later, but I haven’t seen what you’re referring to yet. Clearly, that’s a question for the White House."

And, Sen. McConnell, for the voters of Kentucky.