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“Obamagate” – Why Trump Shouldn’t Go There.

Posted on | May 18, 2020 | No Comments

Mike Magee

President Trump’s latest ploy to distract us from his remarkable covid-19 failure, as American deaths approach 100,000, is tossing out the vague term “Obamagate.”  He presents the term in the same conspiratorial whisper voice he once used to launch and sustain the “birther campaign.”

It is a mark of understandable desperation that he would mine past territory. Yet, he will likely live to regret drawing attention to this very popular and very competent past-president. The facts are especially damning. If there was ever a pro-science president, it was Barack Obama.

In June of 2009, President Obama first convened his President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST), and offered this challenge, “So if you guys are so smart, how come you’re still making this (vaccines) with eggs?” At meetings end, the council had its first assignment – Answer this question: “What does the president need to do to prepare for an influenza pandemic?”

5 weeks later, on August 7, 2009, the council delivered a detailed plan. That plan became a 69-page roadmap titled, “Playbook for early response to high-consequence emerging infectious disease threats and biological incidents.”

The new President’s support for science and scientists was given full voice on his 100th day in office. He said, “Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment, and our quality of life than it has ever been before. I want to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions — and not the other way around.”

The President provided both time and access to his top science leader. John Holden, a plasma physicist, headed up the committee and carried a title of Assistant to the President that gave him the privilege of direct access and communication. It was not unusual for them to meet several times a week.

The council’s recommendation that a single individual with security experience be assigned to take the lead during a pandemic led to the president’s appointment of John Brennan in 2009. In 2014, Ron Klain, former chief of staff for VP Joe Biden, took over. During this period, Ebola, Swine Flu, and H1N1 were managed without incident.

As the president’s 2nd term drew to an end, Ron Klain wrote, “The next president should put a coordinating unit together before an outbreak begins.” The 69-page playbook was handed over to Trump’s transition team. It went point by point, including:

“Determine whether to implement screening and monitoring measures, or other travel measures within the U.S. or press for measures globally.”

“What are the key services and critical infrastructure that need to come back on line for society to return to normal?”

On January 21, 2017, Trump was inaugurated.

On January 22, 2017, the PCAST website was erased, including all reports.

Over the next two years, no new director of PCAST was appointed, and two-thirds of the staff was let go.

The new PCAST director, appointed in November of 2019, was a professor of meteorology from Oklahoma. Committee members are now primarily from industry.

In December 2019, the Trump administration was informed that covid-19 was breaking out of China.

The committee met on February 3 and 4, 2020. There was no discussion of covid-19.

On March 10, 2020, President Trump remarked, “Just stay calm. It will go away.”

On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

On May, 11, 2020, Washington Post reporter Phil Rucker asked, “In one of your Mother’s Day tweets, you appeared to accuse President Obama of ‘the biggest political crime in American history, by far’ — those were your words. What crime exactly are you accusing President Obama of committing, and do you believe the Justice Department should prosecute him?”  The president stuttered this response, “Uh, Obamagate. It’s been going on for a long time,…some terrible things happened, and it should never be allowed to happen in our country again…You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.”

By June 1, 2020, over 100,000 Americans will have officially died from covid-19.

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