Leaks from John Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened” have given the media lots of material. It’s hard to escape headlines trumpeting the “eight most stunning” revelations (or whatever number of “stunning revelations” has been chosen by the person writing that particular book review).
Most of the commentary has accompanied the disclosures with the (obligatory and undeniable) observation that Bolton’s refusal to share what he knew with the House impeachment managers was despicable–undoubtedly motivated by choosing anticipated profit from book sales over an opportunity to rid the country of a clear and present danger.
But it took Heather Cox Richardson to point out the single most horrifying disclosure, worse even than Trump’s encouragement of Chinese concentration camps.
Richardson points out that Trump’s desperate desire to protect the trade deal with China–a deal that he thought would would “smooth the way” for his reelection– delayed the administration’s response to the coronavirus and the pandemic that has now claimed the lives of more Americans than died in WWI.
She reminds us of the timeline: on January 15, Trump and Xi inked a trade deal that required China to increase purchases of U.S. products by at least $200 billion over 2017 levels. January, as we now know, was when the first signs of the pandemic arose.
At the same time, news of the coronavirus was spreading. Trump praised Xi’s handling of the virus and claimed it had been contained. On January 22, he tweeted: “One of the many great things about our just signed giant Trade Deal with China is that it will bring both the USA & China closer together in so many other ways. Terrific working with President Xi, a man who truly loves his country. Much more to come!” And on January 24, as the devastation of the novel coronavirus came clearer, he wrote: “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!”
When the pandemic tanked the U.S. economy, the trade deal made less of a difference, and Trump’s close engagement with China just as the pandemic was breaking out suddenly became a liability that Biden was quick to hit. Trump turned on China, blaming it for the virus, and then took the US out of the World Health Organization, saying the WHO was responsible for the pandemic because it had been too willing to trust the Chinese.
Bottom line: Trump’s responsibility for the pandemic goes well beyond his (and, remember, Bolton’s) knee-jerk decision to eliminate the pandemic task force that had been established by Obama. It goes beyond Trump’s lies about the federal “cupboard” being “bare,” beyond the administration’s incredible mismanagement of the resources that remained at the federal government’s disposal, and even beyond the lies about phony “cures” and the likely, warm-weather disappearance of the virus.
Think about this: In order to protect his chances of re-election, Donald Trump was perfectly willing to ignore a deadly threat to the lives of American citizens.
If people had to die in order to ensure his re-election, well, so be it. The other revelations pale in comparison.
This shouldn’t come as a shock, of course. Trump’s insistence on holding a rally in Tulsa–without masks and social distancing–confirms everything we suspected about Trump’s concern for the life and health of American citizens–even those who support him.