'This is not a game': Columnist warns that Trump would rather New York 'drop dead'
US President Donald Trump has an unpredictable negotiating style and likes to break with precedent. (AFP/File / SAUL LOEB)

On Tuesday, writing for The New York Times, Jennifer Senior laid out how President Donald Trump has left New York to fend for itself in the midst of the coronavirus crisis — even as cases there explode to a level not seen anywhere else in the world.

"So it’s essentially come to this: President Trump is treating each of our 50 states as individual contestants on 'The Apprentice' — pitting them against one another for scarce resources, daring them to duke it out — rather than mobilizing a unified national response to a pandemic," wrote Senior. "If that’s the case, this is the episode where New York loses. The coronavirus is whipping through the state, especially New York City, at a terrifying rate. We need personnel, ventilators and personal protective equipment, stat."

"But Trump’s response has been the same as President Gerald Ford’s in 1975, when our city, faltering on the brink of insolvency, begged Washington for help and was brutally rebuffed, a moment forever enshrined in The Daily News’s headline 'FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD,'" Senior continued. "Now Trump is telling us the same. Literally."

"Our hospitals will soon be overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. The governor has already said that the state is 30,000 ventilators short," wrote Senior. "On Tuesday morning, Cuomo confirmed that FEMA would be sending the state only 400 ventilators ... What is the president waiting for, and why is he hoarding — or let’s be charitable and say husbanding — his resources? Must the death toll in New York prove so calamitous he needs no further proof? Is he trying to make an example of his former home?"

"It would be one thing if other states were in the same dire position as New York. But they aren’t," wrote Senior. "We have 10 times the number of cases as Washington and eight times that of California. New Yorkers are now locked in place, waiting for the wave to come. As of Tuesday night, Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, recommends that New Yorkers self-quarantine if they leave the state. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is ordering anyone flying in from New York to self-quarantine for 14 days upon landing. I guess Trump likes the numbers where they are. I have news for him: They won’t stay that way. The idea that New York is an exception rather than a harbinger is madness."

"The rest of the country may regard New York as a black hole of need. But in fact the opposite has always been true; we’re forever sweeping more into the federal till than we receive in services," wrote Senior. "In 2018, according to the state comptroller’s office, we gave $26.6 billion more to Washington than we got back, ranking us dead last for federal benefits."

"Part of me can’t help but wonder if Trump is just playing to his base, which views cities with suspicion, perhaps New York above all," wrote Senior. "We are multiculturalism personified — home of the United Nations, a place where 637 languages and dialects are spoken. A purée while the rest of the nation is vegetable soup, as Spalding Gray once lovingly said. Never mind that Trump is himself a creature of New York, just a different dimension of New York. Tabloid New York, real estate New York and (above all, and most ironically) global New York, which made possible his worldwide hotels, his construction projects made of Chinese steel, his loans from Deutsche Bank. It’s a New York he now disavows. A New York he now blames."

"But it was New York that made him a reality television star," wrote Senior. "And what reality television prizes more than anything, we’ve learned, is a Darwinian frame of mind. The contestants aren’t there to make friends. They’re there to destroy each other. They’re there to win. Only the best win."

"But this is not a game," senior concluded. "Trump has no clue how to marshal the forces of federal government, which he stripped down to the studs. He has no unifying instincts at all. New York will be gasping for breath, and the other states will soon follow. Unless he takes action, now."

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