‘Trump pandemic’ grips the US, no escaping accountability this time

By Li Haidong Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/21 21:48:40 Last Updated: 2020/3/21 23:20:20

File photo: Xinhua

Regardless of diplomatic etiquette and China's repeated objections, US President Donald Trump has repeatedly called the novel coronavirus "Chinese virus." New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, in an article published in the New York Times, coined the term "Trump pandemic," which has struck a chord among many American pundits.

The US political and media elites are clear that the virus onslaught in the US was caused by the Trump administration's lack of vigilance and dereliction of duty. The term "Trump pandemic" accurately conveys the idea that the Trump administration bears inescapable responsibility for the current coronavirus pandemic. For a long time, Trump took offense whenever US media criticized him and his administration. He conveniently brushed aside his accountability by calling their reports "fake news." At a time when Trump's advice to his country on COVID-19 has proven wrong, US media elites have directly pointed out these failings, showing that some US media are a balance against the powers of the president and his administration. 

The coronavirus outbreak is now befalling in the US. Back in January and February, when a similar outbreak gripped China and China put forth enormous efforts in fighting the epidemic, the US president had no sense about it, nor did he make any political preparation and resource reservation. The World Health Organization has repeatedly urged other countries to learn from China's experience, while Trump just turned a deaf ear and stressed that the risk in the US was "very low." However, the number of infected cases has surpassed 26,000 and the death toll has surged to at least 326 as of press time, which is a sheer tragedy.

There is also the question of transparency. It is reported that shortly after a January briefing in the Senate on the coronavirus outbreak, four US senators sold stocks while concealing information of the outbreak. The series of scandals show some US politicians eyed only for their self-interest and profited off non-public information, endangering the interests and lives of the American public. 

After the scandal came to light, the Americans and the US media lashed out at the Trump administration and it is quite reasonable that the media called it "Trump pandemic." While the Trump administration tried to pass the buck to China by coining the racial slur "Chinese virus," it is believed even American media and the people wouldn't buy such a fatuous remark. 

The Trump administration's focus on economic data and the 2020 presidential election is one of the main reasons for the global pandemic. At the moment, Trump's top priority is to win the presidential race, and sparkling economic data matters a lot. But the fact is, the US economy is embroiled in serious troubles. Whether Trump or the pandemic is to blame, or the economic woes are a natural result of the US economic circle, US political figures would interpret it based on their own political understandings. No matter what they would say, the US economy has spiraled downward to the state before Trump assumed power. The US has almost sat mired in a financial crisis hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has greatly underestimated the US domestic epidemic situation. This would deal a fatal blow to his reelection bid. 

Krugman in his column said, "Don't trust the president," rightly echoing the shattered confidence of many Americans' on Trump. Whatever Trump's political agenda might be, the reality is when he repeatedly and deliberately uses the racist slur "Chinese virus," most Americans aren't paying much attention to politics at this time. Decreasing income and increasing unemployment are what they do care about. When the lives of Americans are entangled in greater difficulty and transportation becomes more inconvenient, will the US public place the blame on China? The answer is no. Instead, they would accuse the Trump administration of being incompetent in dealing with the coronavirus crisis. They would think it is a "Trump pandemic," as is the truth. Quite a few US elites think Trump is a "barbarian." Their disdain for Trump will increase as the coronavirus pandemic rages. It is likely that more American people will think the same way.

The author is a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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