WASHINGTON: Deaths from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States is poised to tick over 100,000 on Tuesday even as President Donald Trump congratulated himself for “great reviews on our handling of Covid-19” amid a bitter partisan political battle over his administration’s approach to the crisis and rising tensions with China.
The US President has literally obliterated the manual laid out by pandemic and healthcare experts recommending shutdowns and social distancing, and is now aggressively pushing for complete re-opening of the country, claiming he has controlled the pandemic and infections and death rates are falling. He also resumed calling the pathogen a “China virus.”
“For all of the political hacks out there, if I hadn’t done my job well, & early, we would have lost 1 1/2 to 2 Million People, as opposed to the 100,000 plus that looks like will be the number. That’s 15 to 20 times more than we will lose. I shut down entry from China very early!” Trump said on Tuesday. Fatalities from the pandemic in the U.S stood at 99,950 as if noon Tuesday and is expected to cross 100,000 later in the day despite a slowdown in infections and deaths.
“One person lost to this invisible virus is too much, it should have been stopped at its source, China, but I acted very quickly, and made the right decisions. Many of the current political complainers thought, at the time, that I was moving far to fast, like Crazy Nancy!” Trump said, illustrating that the pandemic has mutated into a virulent political and geo-strategic scrap involving the Republican President, opposition Democrats, and China.
Trump acolytes are pressing the President to take more aggressive action on China, including reneging on US debt and imposing sanctions and travel restrictions on China.
“We’re not on the brink of war. We are at war!” former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, who still has the President’s ear, said in an interview to the TheWireChina website, adding that “when people understand the full nature of this (China’s predatory behavior), whether it’s in Italy, France, South Africa, India, or the United States, people are going to demand retribution.”
Trump has started to pay heed. After praising Beijing more than two dozen times between January and March as the coronavirus was spreading far and wide, he has pivoted dramatically to cast China as the enemy, with the added tactic of casting Democrats as its ally.
“Nobody in 50 years has been WEAKER on China than Sleepy Joe Biden. He was asleep at the wheel. He gave them EVERYTHING they wanted, including rip-off Trade Deals. I am getting it all back!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday, even as Republican operatives rolled out $10 million worth of attack ads in the battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, against “Beijing Biden” in an effort to paint former Vice President, Trump’s opponent in the November Presidential election, as soft on China.
Democrats in turn attacked Trump for his repeated praise for China and his cozy interactions with its leader Xi Jinping, their attack ad demonstrating how US President “rolled over for the Chinese” and “let in 40,000 from China into America” during the pandemic.
Eager to demonstrate their nationalist credentials, Trump loyalists have unleashed a raft of punitive legislation aimed at, among other things, freezing assets, imposing sanctions and travel restrictions, and seeking restitution from China for COVID-19 losses.
The nearly 100,000 people the U.S has lost to Covid-19 is less than 1/20th of the 4634 dead declared by China, where the virus is widely believed to have originated. Republican hawks now consider the pandemic to be a virtual act of war by China, and are pressing Trump for revenge.
“They’re in for world domination. … Understand you have an enemy. They’re an adversary. It’s called communist China,” Florida Senator Rick Scott said in a radio interview, following up Bannon’s recommendation to Trump to go “as hard core as possible against Beijing.