The original, devastating failure was refusal to prepare for the pandemic and scale up testing (as other countries have done). Here again Biden has a strong message:
The ad is stellar because the indictment of Trump’s incompetence and his dishonesty (in claiming anyone can get tested) comes from regular Americans. Moreover, it drives home the point that we do not have enough tests now — let alone the millions more we would need to safely reopen businesses and schools.
Biden is getting help from unexpected sources in delivering his message. Trump tried to get business leaders to hawk his May 1 deadline, but instead heard precisely the opposite: The key to restarting the economy is ramping up testing and contact tracing. The Post reports, “President Trump’s attempt to enlist corporate executives in a push to reopen parts of society amid the coronavirus pandemic got off to a rocky start Wednesday, with some business leaders complaining the effort was haphazard and warning that more testing needs to be in place before restrictions are lifted.” Oops. (This would fall under the category of never asking questions one does not know the answer to.)
Business leaders who face liability for operating dangerous workplaces and who know that employees will not return to work unless they feel safe are not about to play along with Trump’s May 1 deadline — nor are they willing to remain quiet about the central problem, namely lack of testing. (“Many of the chief executives urged the White House to focus more on mass testing, according to several participants on the calls. Public health experts have argued that widespread testing is a key prerequisite to reopening the economy because it would determine who is infected and needs to be isolated, giving Americans greater confidence that they can safely return to work and public life.”)
Even Trump’s appointed director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, has been saying that without robust testing, we cannot safely return to public life. Likewise, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Associated Press in a recent interview regarding testing, “We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet.”
In sum, Biden is on the mark when he treats Trump’s outbursts as emotional reactions to bad news. Rather than focus on Trump’s nonsensical threats and promises, Biden chooses to focus on his failures, the most serious of which is the failure to institute a full-fledged testing program. The good news is that business leaders, Fauci, Redfield and the governors agree with Biden. The lesson here is: Ignore the tantrums, focus on the incompetence.