Do liberals want Trump to spark a panic?

There are thousands of valid grounds upon which Trump can be criticized. His administration's sober response to coronavirus is not one of them.

President Trump.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images, vitalik19111992/iStock)

I am old enough to remember a time when President Trump's response to coronavirus was decried as heavy handed and authoritarian by observers who thought that restricting air travel to and from China and the imposition of a quarantine were over-the-top responses to a disease that posed less of a threat to the health of the average American than seasonal influenza. These impressions were preceded by sweeping assurances that the assassination of Qassem Soleimani was about to spark war with Iran and that the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement quietly approved by Democratic leaders in the middle of the failed impeachment process would actually worsen our trade relations, to name only a handful of the alas so-far unrealized crises into which L’Éminence orange was confidently assumed to have plunged us in the first month and a half or so of the new year. Perhaps a national moment of silence in acknowledgement of the various dooms to which we have managed not to succumb individually or collectively in the ensuing days would be in order. We are certainly lucky.

As of this writing, roughly 60 Americans have been diagnosed with coronavirus, which is about the same as the number who own copies of Out of the Bachs, an obscure 1968 garage rock album often considered among the rarest and most valuable in the world. A whopping one of them appears to have contracted the disease on these shores. This seems to me about the best one could hope for given the reality of globalized commerce and the unwillingness of millions around the world to forego travel or subject themselves to inconvenient screening processes. (I for one would be happy to see far more stringent restrictions in place.)

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Matthew Walther

Matthew Walther is a national correspondent at The Week. His work has also appeared in First Things, The Spectator of London, The Catholic Herald, National Review, and other publications. He is currently writing a biography of the Rev. Montague Summers. He is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellow.