Some corners of Liberal Twitter are raising a murmur for “Coronavirus Czar” Elizabeth Warren. Obviously, that’s not going to happen, but it’s important to point out why it shouldn’t happen either.
Jeet Heer, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation, made a big splash Thursday with the question:
If you could name one person to be a Coronavirus Czar — someone with broad powers — who would it be?
In a stunningly paradoxical answer to his own question, Heer nominated either “Bezos” (could he have meant MacKenzie?) or Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
If he meant Jeff Bezos, it’s hard to understand what Heer’s thinking. Elizabeth Warren and Jeff Bezos are about the most polar opposite people in America. No doubt they would also have entirely different approaches to coronavirus.
But here’s why I have reservations about Elizabeth Warren as Coronavirus Czar. (Aside from the fact that she doesn’t have a stellar record of interpreting the results of DNA tests.)
We’ve already exhausted too much energy politicizing coronavirus into a new front in the identity politics war. Journalists and politicians continue to attack President Trump for referring to the coronavirus as a “Chinese virus” or Wuhan coronavirus.” That is, for acknowledging that the virus indeed came from China.
Many have suggested this is a racist “dog whistle” from Trump to encourage racism against Asians. But nearly every major national news outlet has printed “Wuhan coronavirus.” And referring to pandemics by their geographic origin has been common parlance for a century. Saying “West Nile Virus” is not an attack on Egyptians. Nor is “Spanish Flu” an affront to Spain.
Elizabeth Warren wants to waste time on this futile exercise in petty race-baiting too. On Saint Patrick’s Day, she tweeted :
I’ve said it once & I’ll say it again loud enough for the @WhiteHouse, @FoxNews, & everyone else to hear: coronavirus does not discriminate. Bigotry against people of Asian descent is unacceptable, un-American, & harmful to our COVID-19 response efforts.
As North Korea historian and analyst Michael Malice joked in response:
But Elizabeth Warren’s pile-on to this silly fake controversy is not the chief reason she should not be in charge of the coronavirus response.
Most importantly, Elizabeth Warren shouldn’t be Coronavirus Czar because there shouldn’t be a Coronavirus Czar.
She ripped Trump for putting Mike Pence in charge of the effort. Ironically, her problem with Pence was exactly what she has done :
He paid more attention to politics than he did to science, and that really created a health crisis in his state of Indiana.
But I don’t think Mike Pence should have headed up the task force either. Not because of his qualifications, but because it’s constitutionally untenable. Executive branch czars are an unconstitutional breach of the Appointments Clause . They represent an unconstitutional power grab by the White House .
Responding to disease epidemics is already the job of the secretary of Health and Human Services. That’s what they get appointed by the president (and confirmed by the Senate) to do. And they oversee the CDC director, who’s specifically where he or she is to handle this kind of crisis.
This is America. No use for czars here.