During a White House press briefing last week, Donald Trump made headlines when he conceded the coronavirus crisis would likely "get worse before it gets better." But while that presidential acknowledgement was somewhat out of character for Trump, there was something he said moments earlier that struck me as even more striking.
Trying to sound an optimistic note about the federal response to the pandemic, the Republican, unprompted, declared, "We are in the process of developing a strategy that's going to be very, very powerful."
It was jarring in large part because of the timing: six months into a deadly crisis, the White House is just now "in the process of developing a strategy"? Shouldn't the president and his team have developed a strategy quite a while ago? Couldn't they have taken advantage of the game plan the Obama administration left for them to use in the event of an emergency?
Nevertheless, taken at face value, Trump said a "very, very powerful" strategy was in development. Yesterday, a reporter asked the president a good follow-up question: "Where is that strategy?" Trump replied:
"Well, I think you’re seeing it, and I think you will see it.... We are way ahead on vaccines, way ahead on therapeutics. And when we have it, we’re all set up with our platforms to deliver them very, very quickly. The vaccines are doing well, the therapeutics are doing well, and we’re all set to deliver them as soon as we have them, and that’s going to be very soon."
And with that, he ended the briefing.
In other words, when Trump boasted last week, "We are in the process of developing a strategy that's going to be very, very powerful," what he meant was, scientists are working on addressing the virus, and once they have medicines that will help, the administration will try to get the medicines the public.
That's it. That's the "very, very powerful" strategy.
Way back in March, we discussed the president's unfortunate habit of over-promising and under-delivering during a crisis. The problem clearly hasn't gone away.