Juxtapose that with the bipartisan scene on Capitol Hill, where, after days of strife, senators neared a vote on a massive stimulus bill that spends more than Congress typically designates for domestic programs in a year.
On the Senate floor Wednesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said that the “Washington drama” acted out in the chamber in recent days “does not matter anymore. The Senate is going to stand together, act together and pass this historic relief package today.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), too, looked beyond the “bumps in the road.” Said the Democratic whip: “There are a lot of critics of the United States Congress, for good reason, but I think what we’ve demonstrated … is that there is a capacity for common sense, bipartisan work and timeliness that is essential.”
Meanwhile, as Trump pits states against each other and announces a reckless plan to reopen American workplaces by Easter with the virus still raging, Democratic and Republican governors, filling the leadership vacuum, have united in rejecting his ludicrous plan.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican and head of the National Governors Association, dismissed “this imaginary clock,” while Republican governors in Texas, Arizona, Ohio and South Dakota joined Democratic governors coast to coast in insisting that public health come first.
A better president could unify us in common purpose. But while Trump declares himself a “wartime president,” he seems most skilled at civil warfare. He contributes false assurances, disinformation and attacks on Democratic governors.
It’s a blessing, then, that, as The Post’s Philip Rucker reports, Trump has been playing “a back-seat role” in key areas that “belies his omnipresence in the national media.” The president largely left the stimulus bill to lawmakers and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
This suggests a welcome, if tacit, recognition that Trump doesn’t have what it takes to lead in crisis. His greatest service would be to get out of the way. While our head of state plays talking head, our headless state would carry on better without him.
On Wednesday, Trump governed by Twitter. In addition to messages about the virus, he tweeted or retweeted: a video purporting to show Biden coughing and “confused” (“The Democrat’s (sic) Best & Finest!” Trump wrote); a message calling Schiff a “moron” and a hypocrite”; one stating “There’s a lot of mud on Robert Muellers face” and mocking the “feeble” former special counsel’s “stammering”; a mock expression of relief that the “terrible” “RINO” Romney doesn’t have coronavirus; a boast about his poll numbers; and more.
This came after Trump’s false claim Tuesday on Fox News that New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) “had a chance to buy, in 2015, 16,000 ventilators at a very low price and he turned it down,” and instead “established death panels and lotteries.”
While Trump used the power of the presidency for self-aggrandizement and petty grievances, the governors governed. Cuomo, in his daily news conference, thanked Trump for his “cooperation” and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner for being “extraordinarily helpful” in their “common challenge.”
He proposed a nationwide plan to share scarce medical supplies, invoking the words of his late father, Mario Cuomo, on “what a proper government should be: the idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all.”
Other governors have likewise been the voices of responsibility in lieu of the president’s. As Trump moved recklessly toward reopening workplaces as the virus spreads, Ohio’s Mike DeWine, a Republican, said, “The fact is we save our economy by first saving lives, and we have to do it in that order.”
And while Trump salivates over the “Trumpbux” he’ll get to spend in the emergency legislation, lawmakers blocked him from spending the funds on his own business. While Trump lobs political grenades, senators are speaking like statesmen.
“Here in these mostly now empty corridors, we’ve shaped a bipartisan agreement on the largest rescue package in American history,” said Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate minority leader.
And Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), out of quarantine, said that “we as a country will rise together. We will do it united. We will do it because we in this country know how to overcome great challenges.”
Trump has not led. Probably, he can’t. It offers some reassurance to see that, in our national moment of need, others can.
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