In an abrupt about-face, Donald Trump rage-tweeted at General Motors with a desperate plea for ventilators on Friday.
Hours earlier, the president was sticking to his assertion that hospitals’ pleas for more ventilators were dramatic and overdone.
But Mr. Trump was clearly rattled when he called out both GM and Ford for not making ventilators to aid in the country’s battle against coronavirus.
As the number of known coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed that of any other nation, Donald Trump appeared unfazed.
He balked at health advisors’ warnings and even teased a plan that would evaluate the coronavirus risk level on a county-by-county basis.
When asked about the mounting crisis in New York, where the healthcare system is overwhelmed, Trump argued that the hospitals were overstating their needs.
I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be. I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, “Can we order 30,000 ventilators?”
He initially pushed the blame onto local lawmakers, saying the U.S. federal government isn’t responsible for states’ failure to cope with rising coronavirus cases.
We’re really a second line of attack. The first line of attack is supposed to be the hospitals and the local government and the states themselves.
Now he’s shifting the blame onto corporate America, calling GM stupid for not making ventilators sooner.
But GM, Ford, and other U.S. businesses could be forgiven for not understanding the severity of the coronavirus crisis. After all, the president at the nation’s helm long dismissed the whole thing as a media ploy to damage him.
Trump compared the virus to the flu, and Republicans even suggested the elderly suck it up and die for the U.S. economy.
And yet the president is demanding U.S. automakers produce more ventilators (in all caps, no less). His tweet reeks of desperation, something the rest of the world might pity if it weren’t so clear how shortsighted he’s been all along.
It was only a matter of time before Trump turned on U.S. corporations.
Unfortunately, his panic is misdirected. Demanding that Ford and GM help out may get a few thousand much-needed ventilators to New York and New Jersey. It may even save a few lives.
But as long as the U.S. carries on with unrestricted movement and a hodgepodge of social distancing measures that differ from state to state, the U.S. will continue to suffer the brunt of the coronavirus. And Trump will have no one left to blame but himself.
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