Trump fights former members of his own team in COVID blame game

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It’s an expression many have probably heard before: “Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan.” When things go right, people scramble in the hopes of claiming credit; when things go wrong, they scurry to avoid blame.

And right about now, as Americans continue to come to terms with Team Trump’s tragic handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the Republican administration’s failure is clearly lacking parents. The Washington Post reported yesterday:

Several top doctors in the Trump administration offered their most pointed and direct criticism of the government response to the coronavirus last year, with one of them arguing that hundreds of thousands of covid-19 deaths could have been prevented. They also admitted their own missteps as part of a CNN special that aired Sunday night, saying that some Trump administration statements the White House fiercely defended last year were misleading or outright falsehoods.

Not surprisingly, the latest reflections from administration insiders are multifaceted. Former HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir acknowledged the testing failures; White House COVID Response Coordinator Deborah Birx conceded she felt political pressure to undersell the severity of the crisis; former CDC Director Robert Redfield admitted that key reports were altered by political appointees; Dr. Anthony Fauci lamented the former president’s “Liberate Virginia, liberate Michigan” nonsense; and so on.

Right on cue, Donald Trump responded by lashing out with a written harangue last night. It began:

“Based on their interviews, I felt it was time to speak up about Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, two self-promoters trying to reinvent history to cover for their bad instincts and faulty recommendations, which I fortunately almost always overturned. They had bad policy decisions that would have left our country open to China and others, closed to reopening our economy, and years away from an approved vaccine — putting millions of lives at risk.”

The former president’s written tantrum went on for several additional paragraphs, whining about a “fake interview” on CNN, mocking Fauci’s ceremonial opening pitch at a baseball game last July, unironically condemning Birx as “a proven liar with very little credibility left,” and generally making an elaborate effort to blame everyone but himself for what went wrong.

Much of Trump’s hysterical message was incorrect, though the bigger picture is more important than the specific details: if the Trump administration had overseen an effective response to the COVID crisis, there wouldn’t be any need for finger-pointing or this elaborate effort to assign blame.

This new and pointless fight is itself emblematic of Team Trump’s failure to responsibly deal with the pandemic.