The Politics of Coronavirus

The Democratic Party press is openly trying to turn coronavirus into President Trump’s Hurricane Katrina. In that context, much of what reporters say is too stupid to be worth rebutting. For example, when the Dow dropped 1,000 points after Trump gave a coronavirus speech a few days ago, the echo chamber told us that Wall Street has no faith in the incompetent Trump. Then, when Trump began to deliver this afternoon’s speech that declared a national emergency and announced various anti-virus measures, there was a brief drop in the Dow, about which many liberals tweeted, blaming Trump. But then the Dow soared 2,000 points, and lots of those tweets were deleted.

That is the world we live in: the press vs. the Republican Party. But let’s step back from hourly swings in the stock market and take a broader look at coronavirus and how it is likely to impact our politics going forward. I suggest several propositions:

1) The Democrats’ effort to blame coronavirus on Trump is doomed to fail. Most people simply aren’t that dumb. The virus came from China. Its origin may have been a market where freshly-slaughtered bats and such animals were sold, or possibly a nearby government laboratory. No one who isn’t already a fanatical Trump hater thinks that the global spread of the virus is somehow his fault.

2) On the contrary, the pandemic shows that Trump was right all along about China. While low wages are superficially attractive, there are many disadvantages to doing business there. In the medium and long terms, coronavirus will boost the American economy. There is already a trend toward abandoning China and bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. Coronavirus will accelerate that trend, and will contribute to the ongoing renaissance of American manufacturing. Does anyone think that a few years from now, 97% of our antibiotics and most of our generic pharmaceuticals will still be produced in China?

3) So far, voters are entirely indifferent to the Democrats’ attempts to gain political advantage from coronavirus. The Rasmussen Survey hasn’t budged, one way or the other. Today Trump stands at 49%/50% in the rolling approval poll.

4) One of the Democrats’ problems with coronavirus is that it isn’t a very threatening disease. The press would have you believe that it is the 21st Century version of the Black Death, but it is actually more like a bad cold. I have a couple of friends who think they probably have already had it, following trips to Europe. Soon–Two months? Three?–it will be obvious that the hysteria has been vastly overblown. This will make the Democrats, not President Trump, look silly.

5) The stock market has taken a hit, but it is certain to rebound, and soon. There is no realistic scenario on which the virus, which is fatal overwhelmingly to elderly and unhealthy people, adversely impacts our economy to a significant extent. It is the panic which now affects our economy, not the disease. By November that will be obvious.

6) Early on, President Trump did the right thing: he tried to damp down the panic, while at the same time taking the measures that would have practical effect, in particular, banning China travel. As press hysteria mounted, he shifted toward visible activism. Today, he declared a national emergency and announced a broad range of anti-virus initiatives, including regulatory waivers that enable a prompt approval of corona test kits and procedures, thereby overcoming (one hopes) the slow pace of the federal bureaucracy. How much this will matter, I don’t know. But it creates the impression of action, which is mostly what matters for political purposes.

7) Long before November, it will be obvious to everyone that fear of coronavirus was vastly overblown. That is my opinion, anyway. In that scenario, Democratic attacks on Trump’s handling of a “crisis” that fizzled will be ineffective at best. Trump, meanwhile, will claim credit for neutralizing the greatest epidemic (supposedly) of our age. Once again, I think the Democrats have bet on a losing horse, like the Russia collusion scam and the Ukraine nothing-burger. Trump will get credit for defeating a virus that was never much of a threat.

8) Then again, maybe I am wrong. Maybe by November coronavirus hasn’t dissipated and people are worried about it. What then? In a crisis of any kind–war, depression, epidemic–most people want a strong executive. This is an instinctive preference. If we are under a serious threat, we want a strong, effective person to lead us. That impulse has been consistent for thousands of years.

So, if coronavirus is seen as a serious problem in November, who will voters see as the strong executive? President Trump? Or the doddering Joe Biden, who has to be led down the sidewalk by his handlers, who is so far gone that his campaign team limits campaign appearances to a few minutes, and who generally comes across as an old man who used to be of marginal intelligence, and is now senile?

I think the Democrats’ attempt to make political hay out of coronavirus will–best case–go nowhere, and likely will rebound against them in November.

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