Reacting to Rep. Jim Clyburn's statement that US COVID-19 cases are soaring while Europe's cases are way down, President Trump fell back on his repeatedly debunked assertion that the explanation for the difference lies in the US conducting more testing than any other nation.
Earlier this week, in his interview with Jonathan Swan, Trump again stated that you can do too much testing for the virus, absurdly justifying his claim by telling Swan to read the "manuals" and "books."
Here is the exchange with Swan:
"You know there are those that say you can test too much," Trump told "Axios on HBO" host Jonathan Swan in an interview set to air on Monday night. "You do know that?"
"Who says that?" Swan asked.
"Oh, just read the manuals," the president replied. "Read the books."
"Manuals?" Swan pressed. "What manuals."
"Read the books, read the books," Trump repeated.
Really? There are manuals and books on viral transmission that say there can be too much testing? What manuals? What books?
Let me be blunt: That is the kind of vague argument that only a liar or an uninformed idiot would float.
Trump has a long history of stating that "people" or some vague "they" are saying this or that whenever he floats conspiracy theories or false claims without evidence.
On an even more sinister note, this week it emerged that Trump's let-the-governors-handle-it-alone approach may have been due to political considerations. Jared Kushner, who was put in charge of the national effort to control the spread of the virus, proposed a comprehensive national plan that included rapidly ramping up testing. But when the virus was surging in Democratic-controlled states, the plan was rejected because the White House felt they could blame Democrats for failing to control the virus:
Trusting his vaunted political instincts, President Trump had been downplaying concerns about the virus and spreading misinformation about it—efforts that were soon amplified by Republican elected officials and right-wing media figures. Worried about the stock market and his reelection prospects, Trump also feared that more testing would only lead to higher case counts and more bad publicity. Meanwhile, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, was reportedly sharing models with senior staff that optimistically—and erroneously, it would turn out—predicted the virus would soon fade away.
Against that background, the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force.
Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.
And as if to underscore his continuing reckless indifference to the dangers of the virus, Trump held a mini-rally at a Florida airport, yesterday, before a maskless crowd of supporters who were not social distancing. This in a state in the throes of a massive COVID-19 outbreak.