New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) made this abundantly clear at his daily press conference on Monday. He said, “The frontline battle is in our health-care system. . . . The soldiers . . . are health-care professionals.” If Trump understood what this entails, his behavior would be quite different.
Imagine this as a shooting war. It would be unthinkable for the commander in chief to tell battlefield commanders that they really do not need all the equipment that they plainly do; that we should not stockpile bullets because we do not need them all today; or that he suspects with no basis in fact that life-saving supplies are “going out the back door.” This would be outrageous and grounds for questioning the commander in chief’s sanity. Why is this war and this wartime president any different?
Cuomo said, “There are no red casualties. There are no blue casualties.” He stressed that unity is essential, and he has no intention of engaging Trump in a partisan spat. Such action, Cuomo noted, would be counterproductive and even un-American. Yes, imagine a president in wartime saying he will not pick up the phone to talk to a general because the general has not been appreciative enough. That would be outrageous — just as it is when he threatens not to talk to “that woman,” namely Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).
Consider in a war if a president said losing 100,000 to 200,000 people (two to four times the U.S. deaths in Vietnam) would be grounds for celebration. Cuomo, in his press conference, correctly said the death toll in New York (more than 1,218) is already “staggering” because each human life has value. That is how a commander sounds in wartime.
Cuomo declared he will not allow interservice rivalry — not Army vs. Navy in this case, but public vs. private health-care systems. He wants them to share the burden, share supplies, share personnel and share patients if one hospital becomes overloaded. His job is to coordinate within his state, because that is what one must do in a war.
Trump? He says he’s not a “shipping clerk.” Therefore, there is no one at the national level doing for 50 states — coordinating burden-sharing — what Cuomo is doing for New York. We are in effect leaving troops on the battlefield because the commander in chief refuses to come up with an overarching battle plan that requires one state to help another when its neighbor is in dire straits but has not yet reached a crisis point.
Cuomo is also insistent that the home front help in this war. In the covid-19 era, that means staying at home and practicing social distancing. Cuomo does not give a phony end date,only to disappoint the public when that proves infeasible. He prepares them for the long haul. In wartime, Franklin D. Roosevelt did not pick an end date and tell Americans that rationing would be over then. His job was to engage the public for as long as necessary. This concept seems utterly foreign to Trump.
Finally, Cuomo said, in an emergency, one must “plan forward.” He has learned that “it’s too late to prepare when the storm hits.” Refusing to do so, he says, “defies the basic concept of planning.” It is a “fundamental blunder to plan only for today,” he observed.
Fortunately, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was in charge of D-Day. He had planned out all the troops, the equipment, the contingencies and much more weeks, months and even years in advance. He did not just wake up on June 5, 1944, to announce tomorrow would be the greatest land invasion in human history. Trump nevertheless cannot seem to understand why we must stockpile protective equipment for physicians.
This is a war we are losing because of an incompetent commander in chief. It is a great tragedy that we have to wait until November to relieve him of his duties. We will suffer unimaginable, unnecessary casualties so long as he is there.