Slow COVID-19 Response Shows Incompetence of Leadership in White House: US Analyst
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An American political analyst said the slow response to the quickly worsening coronavirus crisis in the US is “primarily due to the incompetence of the leadership in the White House”.
“The slow response is primarily due to the incompetence of the leadership in the White House. As a national emergency, such as in wartime, direction and support needs to come from a single source, even though we have 50 independent states. President Trump has proven with this crisis that he is incapable of handling this crisis, as he had underplayed the severity of it in the beginning and provided false narratives and misleading information,” Myles Hoenig, who ran for the US Congress in 2016 as a Green Party candidate, told Tasnim in an interview.
Following is the full text of the interview.
Tasnim: There are reports that US hospitals are facing the kind of life-and-death decisions that industrialized countries typically encounter only in times of war and natural disasters. Frightening shortages have been reported across the country amid the outbreak of COVID-19. As of today, there are over 277,000 confirmed cases nationwide, with over 7,400 deaths. What is behind this slow response to the novel coronavirus?
Hoenig: The slow response is primarily due to the incompetence of the leadership in the White House. As a national emergency, such as in wartime, direction and support needs to come from a single source, even though we have 50 independent states. President Trump has proven with this crisis that he is incapable of handling this crisis, as he had underplayed the severity of it in the beginning and provided false narratives and misleading information. There are also many state governors who share the president’s inability to understand the problems facing them. Some states have not implemented safe distance protocols as to do so would have hurt major gathering events that bring in huge revenues for the state. For example, Florida waited until after Spring Break to call for it, with thousands of young people flocking to the beaches. Other states take absolutely ridiculous positions of exempting church services, saying they are essential. This brings together hundreds of people at a time who then disperse back into their communities.
Another response is that Congress is not acting on forcing the president to take a leadership role but instead, trying to reboot the economy. Their approach is to bail out the major industries with more than a trillion dollars, much like what they did with the 2008 crisis, by ignoring the very people most hurt by this present crisis. So many of these industries have enormous assets they could bank on but are more interested in giving bonuses to their highest ranking leaders as well as firing or laying off their workers, or denying them necessary medical insurance.
Another problem with Congress is that except for an extremely small number of individuals, to help those suffering medically and financially, Congress refuses to enact immediate Medicare for All legislation, universal national health care. Even the leading Democratic candidate Biden and the Democratic leadership refuses to do this, as it would hurt the profits of the health insurance industry.
Tasnim: In the past days, a number of US doctors and nurses have died due to a lack of medical equipment. The next coronavirus crisis is said to be a shortage of doctors and nurses. Why do you think the US health care system cannot protect its doctors and nurses?
Hoenig: Unlike other countries, Cuba for example, the US has no national plan to promote medical education for those qualified. It is enormously expensive and this restricts the most capable of young students from entering the field in large numbers. As for the nursing and other support staff, other issues are the salaries and the working conditions. Hospitals are mostly for profit and do all they can to limit labor costs.
Also considering that supplies are consumer items, those that produce them keep the numbers stable so as to control the prices and profit. Congress has called on President Trump to use the Defense Production Act, a wartime bill that forces companies to produce necessary equipment. He was reluctant but has since acted on it. The Federal government does have enormous supplies available but in this case, right now, the necessary equipment is being doled out based on whether or not the state governors ‘appreciate’ the work that President Trump is doing. He sees this as a personal issue and bases the allocation of resources on how the states react to him. States that have large electoral votes in November that are not likely to support Trump in his reelection are being treated very unfairly. This is not the only thing as the president’s inability to provide real leadership is the overall factor is why this world-wide pandemic has reached such proportions in the US.
Tasnim: The number of coronavirus cases in the West is skyrocketing and in fact, Western states have failed to respond properly to the crisis. Why do you think the West thinks it knows best and doesn't have anything to learn from the rest of the world?
Hoenig: Many Western countries, especially the US, have the attitude that allopathic medicine is superior to holistic medicine. For example, here in the US, it is almost impossible for health insurance to cover such tried and true methods like acupuncture and what is often referred to as Chinese medicine, natural medicine like plant-based remedies. A big reason for this is the enormous economic and political power of the pharmaceutical industry, which funds congressional races and nearly controls the FDA, the agency that regulates medicine. The last thing they would want is for the consumer to ask for a bag of teas that could support one’s immune system rather than expensive pills. We see this in how long it has taken for many states to enact more liberal laws regarding marijuana. The alternative medical community has long known of its palliative qualities as well as other illegal substances that actually deal with the cause of conditions.
Another reason for western thinking is simply based on racism. The idea that African, Asian, or indigenous medicine could be superior to their own is not something they wish to ponder.