It was seven weeks ago yesterday when Donald Trump unveiled the White House's coronavirus guidelines, complete with social-distancing recommendations. The president and his team agreed soon after to extend the blueprint until the end of April.
But no further. As we discussed the other day, the White House's coronavirus guidelines quietly faded away late last week, without much notice or fanfare. The federal standards, which had served as a foundation of the federal response to the pandemic, effectively evaporated when April came to an end.
For Team Trump, the guidelines' demise was merely a step in a larger evolution. In fact, the White House said it was replacing those measures with a new multi-phase directive, laying out a series of benchmarks the administration wants states to meet when weighing how best to reopen.
There are, however, some rather striking problems with the policy, such as it is. For one thing, the new replacement guidelines create a patchwork system in the midst of a pandemic involving a virus that's indifferent to state boundaries. For another, the new White House directives are voluntary and, in several instances, vague.
But even putting those relevant details aside, more important still is the fact that the president and his team don't seem to care too much about their own replacement policy. The Washington Post reported overnight:
...Trump and some of his aides have backed away from their own guidelines, opting instead to hail the broad economic reopening that health experts say has started too quickly. The dichotomy comes as the White House also tried to distance itself from a draft federal government report predicting an explosion of new coronavirus cases and 3,000 daily deaths by June 1.
Common sense would seem to suggest that the White House would, at a minimum, be disappointed to see several states moving forward with reopening plans despite failing to achieve the administration's benchmarks. Except, it's not working out that way.
On the contrary, the more states ignore Trump's policy, the more Trump celebrates.
In fact, the president doesn't even appear to be keeping up especially well with current events in his own country. He declared during his latest Fox News event on Friday night, "[T]here's not too many states that I know of that are going up. Almost everybody is headed in the right direction."
The Post's report added, "In reality, new coronavirus cases are increasing in about a third of states, compared with just a few where there has been a sustained decline. A plurality of states are hovering around the same level, with neither a significant uptick nor decrease in daily cases. That mirrors the national trend, as the rate of new cases has leveled off in recent weeks but not declined."
According to the White House's latest guidelines, states should be looking for such a decline as part of "Phase One." According to Trump, it doesn't much matter, so states ignoring the latest guidelines deserve a pat on the back.
A variety of words and phrases come to mind to describe such a scenario. "Responsible governing" isn't among them.