Mr. Dan Bochsler has aptly called me out (“McFarlane COVID column a partisan rant,” June 13, Page A4.) for my COVID-for-lunch piece. He did so, however, without detailing one factual error in my column. In perpetuating misinformation, he has proven himself worthy of becoming a spokesman for President Donald Trump.
Let's begin with one point of agreement: Mr. Bochsler's concerns about China. As a lifelong Republican who put out yard signs for Barry Goldwater in 1964, I have never had any sympathies for “Red China.” We both believe China is run by a dictatorship that hermetically controls information and traffics in untruths. This in no way, however, excuses Trump's incompetence in dealing with the early days of the epidemic.
The United States previously had a health officer in Wuhan monitoring and helping with research on corona viruses. Trump's administration had that scientist recalled before the outbreak.
It was known by late January, at the latest, that this virus was capable of person-to-person transmission. Trump can't blame the World Health Organization for his inactions. The U.S. government had scientists and doctors working inside WHO. They knew and reported back in real time everything the organization knew, and when they knew it. Fake news, that is not.
By February, our government knew, indisputably, the potential for the virus to precipitate a disaster. Meanwhile, Trump just gaslighted: “It's gonna go away very soon. The virus is the Democrat's latest hoax. Totally under control.”
More recently, Vice President Mike Pence said in mid-May this pandemic will be in the rear-view mirror by Memorial Day. Instead, the number of new COVID cases are hitting new highs every day in Texas.
But let's be fair. We don't want to scare people. Mr. Bochsler states: "What he (McFarlane) calls minimizing danger was actually calculated to avoid mass panic in a free society that is not governed by a dictator."
What arrant nonsense! Our leader owes it to us to be on the level. You don't have to yell fire in a crowded building, but when the fire has started, it is best said that you people need to get out of here.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my 36-year practice of cardiology is discovering, up close and very personal, the resilience of the human spirit, a gift from my patients I shall cherish forever. It is difficult to tell people they have terminal cancer or are going to die of end-stage congestive heart failure, but universally – in every grim case – I have found they can handle bad news. And they deserve to know the truth. Once known, they deal with it and are able to make appropriate plans.
Likewise, our country deserves a leader we can trust, who can tell us what is coming, and help steel our resolve to make the sacrifices we will have to make to prevail.
Trump simply cannot do this. He has minimized the risk of the virus, failed to lead by example by refusing to wear a mask, and muzzled his scientific experts. As a result, people who believe in him, who take to heart his advice and example, are going to be enormously hurt by their careless behavior or lack of seriousness about the plague he has fomented.
But it gets worse: Trump's latest push for a Republican National Convention with a packed auditorium is nothing short of insanity. But it is more than that. The image of a packed auditorium conveys the message that this pandemic is not serious (but his reelection is), that it is fake news. If our President can proceed and create such a calamity, his actions would constitute not only malfeasance, but also treason.
Finally, to return the microphone Mr. Bochsler: "Balanced and truthful facts and discussion improve and benefit everyone. Unbalanced, and knowingly false information, attacks everyone."
What must really disturb Mr. Bochsler are inconvenient facts, worthy of the Grade A Bull issued from the presidential podium.
Dr. Robert McFarlane of Palestine is a nationally renowned cardiologist.