On Tuesday, writing for the Louisville Courier-Journal, columnist Joseph Gerth unpacked the implications of the latest defense of President Donald Trump by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — and how it is actually damning for the president.
"U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a stunning admission Tuesday when he went on the "Hugh Hewitt Show" and acknowledged that President Donald Trump has botched the federal government's response to the coronavirus," wrote Gerth. Oh, he didn't come right out and say, "Trump has screwed this up." Oh heaven's no. He's much too wily for that. But here's what he said in explaining how Trump responded in the early days of the pandemic: 'It came up while we were tied down in the impeachment trial. And I think it diverted the attention of the government because everything every day was all about impeachment.'"
"Now, here's the question you need to ask yourself," wrote Gerth. "Why would McConnell be making excuses for Trump if in fact Trump's response had been 'perfect' or 'great' or '10 out of 10' or whatever superlative the self-promoter-in-chief has used to describe his administration's response? Answer: He wouldn't."
"People don't make excuses for their friends who have done nothing wrong," continued Gerth. "If, in fact, Trump's response had been 'perfect' or 'great' or '10 out of 10,' McConnell would have never, ever needed to cover for misstep after misstep that has led to a lack of sufficient testing, far too few masks, respirators, face shields and gowns to protect our doctors, nurses and first responders — and far too few ventilators as the pandemic rages."
The fact is, Gerth wrote, McConnell is ultimately confessing that "Trump's attention was not where it should have been. But the fact of it is, the impeachment process didn't divert Trump's attention from anything. He was too busy going to Mar-a-Lago, his south Florida escape, to have his attention diverted from a response to the coronavirus by his own impeachment." Indeed, Trump even had time to meet with the female fan club The Trumpettes during impeachment — his own personal diversions were what distracted him, not impeachment.
"McConnell isn't a fool. He sees what is going to happen as the cases of coronavirus mount and the deaths pile up," wrote Gerth. "There were 558 people who died of COVID-19 on Monday in the United States. Tuesday, it will likely be more. Wednesday more. Thursday more. With each and every day, people will see how badly Trump, who spent nearly two months downplaying the risk of the coronavirus, mishandled the pandemic."
"Trump, who only recently predicted there would soon be 'zero' cases in the United States, is now saying that if we hold deaths to 100,000 people, it will prove he did a 'very good job.' That's not what McConnell thinks," wrote Gerth. "He says the president and his administration weren't focused at a time when Trump was taking three trips to Florida and holding two Keep America Great rallies. But what's a little pandemic when you have golf and Trumpettes?"
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