Editor’s Note: David Axelrod, a CNN political commentator and host of “The Ax Files,” was a senior adviser to President Barack Obama and chief strategist on Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012. The views expressed in this comment are his. See more opinion articles on CNNe.com/opinion
(CNN) – It was going to come to this.
From the time the coronavirus emerged in this country, it was clear that it could take a brutal toll on illness and death and that, in the absence of a vaccine or treatments, managing it would require Americans to make heartbreaking sacrifices on a large scale.RELATED
Bringing the country together to do what was needed in response would require our leaders to tell us hard truths and demand painful steps, actions that are as natural to politicians as pants are to a giraffe.
When the terrible economic impact came, and the leaders had to choose between those harsh truths and complacency, you knew that the weak would cut and flee.
After six weeks of costly Coronavirus denial, President Donald Trump endorsed the steps necessary to curb the spread of covid-19.
Until he didn’t.
Things got difficult, as they predictably would. And the president has turned away from his scientists and health experts and has run, even suppressing advice from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. on how to safely reopen communities, putting governors and mayors responsible for dealing with the deadliest pandemic in a century.
More concerned with surviving the fall fall election than with the survival of his citizens, the president turned to resentment and hopes to bring that old annoyance to victory in November, as he has done before.
Yes, Trump is right when he says that the economic cost of working to control the virus has already been catastrophic. Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs or businesses almost overnight. People are desperate to return to their tasks and normalcy.
But the idea that this race to reopen is fostering is based on his politics, not on the request for suffering and certainly not on science. Health experts, including yours, couldn’t be clearer: open the country prematurely and carelessly, and we risk getting back to where we were in March, with increasing infections and deaths threatening to overwhelm our healthcare system. medical attention.
If we go there, the economy will have to close again or it will simply collapse.
The President has made a cold and hard political calculation and decided to take the path of selfish convenience. He will be on the side of the opening at all costs. He plays his favorite red state versus blue state card. He blames doctors for being too cautious and Democrats for valuing science over American jobs. It forces governors to make difficult and agonizing decisions and make them walk the plank. He uses China as a shield against his own inexcusable failure to act earlier.
Rather than unify the country, Trump hopes to open up and deepen the divisions that have been so central to his political project. You can already see the polarizing effect: in polls, on social media, and on Fox News. While most Americans still prefer a cautious approach, family cracks are beginning to form.
A responsible leader would have behaved differently; he would have followed science and told the country that leaving the unpleasant recipe halfway through would only prolong misery.
In 1942, when the Allies won a decisive and hard-fought victory over the Nazis in North Africa, Winston Churchill tempered the welcome good news with this warning:
“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the final war. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning ”.
That is where we are in the battle against the covid-19. That is what an honest and courageous leader would tell us now, as many of our governors and mayors have done.
But if you were waiting for a moment of leadership from this successful and Churchillian president, you have not been paying attention. Trump is Trump, first, last and always.
He is what he is, which is sad for our seriously wounded country in this moment of appalling judgment.