Editorial: A lack of true leaders

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As Americans all over the country grapple with the coronavirus pandemic continuing to unfurl, many are faced with anxiety as the virus gets personal — a first case in your town, a neighbor who was laid off, a child whose summer internship was rescinded or a shortage at your local grocery store. 

Under social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders, here we are yet again reminded in part by the daily White House briefings that in times of crisis, we look to our leaders to lead. 

If anything is clear, no matter where you may fall politically, it’s becoming glaringly obvious that it is precisely times like this that we need government. We need the government to effectively respond and coordinate said response between the city and state governments, the military and the private sector. 

And yet, as we, like you, have watched these briefings, read the latest news reports and followed the developments in this crisis — we have noticed a drastic contrast in leadership styles. While no one individual caused the crisis, or is at fault for the emergence of COVID-19, President Donald Trump is letting the country down when it comes to effectively mitigating the effects of the virus and combatting this health emergency. 

Trump constantly complains that he inherited a “broken system,” especially as it comes to testing. The claim is exhausting and falls on deaf ears. Trump has been in office for over three years now — this isn’t his first day. If the system truly was “broken,” he’s had over three years to fix it. And blaming the Obama administration is inexcusable and irresponsible — the coronavirus didn’t hit during the Obama presidency. It’s hit here, now, and it’s up to all of us to get it right. 

Trump continues to point to Obama’s efforts in combating the swine flu, which had a mortality rate of .02 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The coronavirus mortality rate is predicted to land somewhere around 1 percent: 50 times more deadly. 

Stop blaming others. There’s no time for that. Take responsibility and step up.

We don’t want this sugarcoated. We want to be safe, healthy and get our lives back. Floating even the idea of opening the country up by Easter is insulting. 

But the real problem with Trump’s Easter claim is his credibility. People were outraged at his dubious prediction, yes — but not at the rate it should’ve been. Trump has so compromised his credibility and reputation that we didn’t even blink an eye at this claim that even he had to walk back. We just knew it wasn’t true and moved on.

The fact that we aren’t outraged when a president lies in a time of crisis is alarming. 

And when journalists pressed Trump to explain the seeming lack of preparedness from the CDC in terms of testing capabilities, and asked him to explain his dismantling of the National Security Council’s pandemic unit in 2018, Trump berated reporters and offered a telling window into his mindset.

“I don’t take responsibility at all,” he said on March 13. 

Are you comfortable with that attitude from our president? We aren’t. 

Trump may not take responsibility, but what he will do, though, is quickly qualify anything negative he might say about China with an off-hand remark about how he had a wonderful conversation with Xi Jinping the other night or take an opportunity to self-congratulate on the recently signed trade deal. As if any of that makes the current situation any better.

Trump often says he doesn’t want to politicize this crisis. And we couldn’t agree more. 

And yet Trump is the one to frequently invoke the Obama administration, Democratic governors and other political opponents as a means to sow discord and point fingers. He’s talking out of both sides of his mouth, and meanwhile, people need ventilators, they need their jobs back, they need that stimulus money to come in their mailboxes. 

We can walk and chew gum.

We can call for unity and call on this country to band together — as so many have in their own small or not-so-small ways, including right here in the Lehigh Valley — and demand better from our leaders all at the same time.

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2 Comments

  1. charles whitfield clemens on

    Forget the blame game.Either help with the problem or get out of the way! You spoiled brats have obviously never been in combat. Chuck Clemens, Lehigh Class of 64

  2. Bruce Haines '67 on

    This editorial focuses on Trump personality versus his accomplishments. Other than the false start with CDC testing, he is the one that has provided Cuomo his ventilators, opened the Javitts Center hospital, put hospital ships in NYC and LA, and orchestrated the stimulus checks you referred to in addition to providing loans to keep small businesses and Universities like Lehigh alive during the draconian economic shutdowns.

    This pandemic is certainly much more aggressive than WHO or any other organization imagined but Trump shut down flights from China while liberal left democrats like you were berating him for being racist for doing so!! However, there will not be anywhere near a 1% death rate in the US except perhaps NYC where the Mayor was telling everybody that this is no problem in early March and come ride the subway.

    Trump is bombastic but he gets stuff done like no other President before him since Reagan. So relax and be thankful you don’t have “Sleepy Joe Biden” leading the nation talking nice but not knowing where he is half the time.

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