One of Donald Trump’s most important missteps in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak happened before anyone had even heard of COVID-19. In fact, the president’s first error came back in 2018.
It was two years ago when Trump ordered the shutdown of the White House National Security Council’s entire global health security unit. NBC News had a good report on this recently, noting that the president’s decision “to downsize the White House national security staff — and eliminate jobs addressing global pandemics — is likely to hamper the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus.”
It was against this backdrop that a reporter asked Trump late last week about whether he was prepared to “rethink having an Office of Pandemic Preparation in the White House.” The president replied:
“I just think this is something, Peter, that you can never really think is going to happen. You know, who — I’ve heard all about, ‘This could be…’ — you know, ‘This could be a big deal,’ from before it happened. You know, this — something like this could happen…. Who would have thought? Look, how long ago is it? Six, seven, eight weeks ago — who would have thought we would even be having the subject? … You never really know when something like this is going to strike and what it’s going to be.”
Which is exactly why reasonable, thoughtful people plan ahead for potential disasters. Especially if that’s part of your job description.