Social scientists engage in counterfactual reasoning all the time. This one is easy to envisage. After all, Clinton has not been shy about deriding president Trump’s response to the pandemic. I’m sure many opponents of President Trump have said that things would be better had Clinton won. I know I have. But to do this properly requires remembering that on Earth 2, they have not seen what life is like here. So how would things have played out?
Here’s my guess, in the form of what my Washington Post colleagues who are professional reporters might have reported as their story for today:
Capitol Hill was the scene of fiery confrontations between Republicans and Clinton administration officials about the controversial actions taken to combat the covid-19 infection. Republicans argued that the Clinton administration was overzealous in containing the threat, while Democrats argued in favor of measures now being litigated in the Supreme Court.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters that President Clinton had been “hysterical” to urge governors to quarantine the cities of Seattle, San Francisco and New Rochelle, N.Y. As the national number of new infections dropped to less than 100 yesterday, McConnell said: “The federal government has trampled on the liberty of Americans in the name of an overhyped threat. President Clinton is not thinking about this rationally.”
At the same time, Republicans also criticized the Clinton administration for not taking a more hawkish approach toward China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, blasted Clinton’s refusal to sanction China over a lack of transparency. He also urged the House to launch a third round of impeachment hearings. “The president is blind to how China will weaponize MS-13 gangs to infect our Southern states,” Sessions said.
In the House, GOP negotiators continued their seventh straight day of negotiations with the Clinton administration over a planned $50 billion emergency fund for the affected cities. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) continued to insist to Vice President Tim Kaine that any aid package had to be revenue-neutral, arguing that Medicaid benefits would need to be trimmed to compensate small businesses in the affected areas. He also urged Kaine to zero out emission standards for U.S.-based airlines, which have suffered tremendously from the reduction in international travel.
McCarthy also railed against Fed Chair Janet L. Yellen’s emergency swap lines to Europe, saying, “I don’t see why we should be debasing our currency to aid European socialism.”
Compared with other developed countries, the United States has done relatively well in flattening the infection rate. Nonetheless, coronavirus czar Ron Klain’s intrusions into interstate commerce have raised concerns. A lawsuit pending before the Supreme Court will determine whether Clinton had the authority to restrict domestic flights and car traffic on the western seaboard.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) demurred on whether he would support a third impeachment effort, suggesting that the 2020 rematch with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would supersede any impeachment effort. “With a tanking economy and completely inappropriate federal intrusions into state-level areas of governance, I am certain that voters will reject the president’s heavy hand of the state come November.”
Allegations that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mishandled initial coronavirus testing protocols continue to plague the administration, as have accusations that Clinton browbeat the Food and Drug Administration into approving testing kits using regulatory standards lower than standard FDA protocols.
Trump, who has essentially been campaigning since his surprisingly narrow loss in 2016, told his allies in Congress to demand an inspector general report from the Department of Health and Human Services for mistakes made in containing the spread of the coronavirus: “THE CDC WAS BAD AT EBOLA AND A DISASTER AT CORONAVIRUS!! WE NEED TO HEAR FROM THE IG!!!” he tweeted.
Trump also mocked a public service announcement by former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush advocating that those in the affected quarantine zones wear masks when they go outside. “Look at Tweedledum and Tweedledee — what a joke! None of this would have happened in a Trump administration. Sad!”
The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll of battleground states continues to show Trump ahead of Clinton by five points across the Midwest.
Testifying in front of the Senate, Defense Secretary Michèle Flournoy dismissed calls to militarize the nation’s southern border and defended sending the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers into Mexico to help erect quarantine facilities there, saying that all precautions had been taken. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), widely rumored to be Tump’s preferred vice presidential pick, thundered: “The greatest military in the world was not designed to help the sick and feed the poor.” He further decried Clinton’s offer of assistance to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, arguing that the sanctions were just about to cause the regime there to topple.
Meanwhile, both Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez expressed their appreciation to Clinton during a remote Group of 20 meeting. They thanked her for medical equipment shipments to the regions hit hardest by the pandemic.
Earth 2 would be many times better than Earth 1. But it would not feel that way.