Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

‘I Don’t Take Responsibility at All’

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James Fallows writes in the Atlantic:

This afternoon, on the heels of a widely panned formal Oval Office address, Donald Trump assembled a group of scientific and corporate leaders to talk about dealing with the coronavirus. You can watch the whole thing on the White House YouTube channel.

I suspect that we’ll see one line from this conference played frequently in the months ahead. You can watch it starting at around 1:22:00, when reporter Kristen Welker of NBC asks Trump whether he takes responsibility for the lag in making test kits available.

Trump’s reply:

No.

I don’t take responsibility at all.

Narrowly parsed, and in full context, Trump was referring only to the test kits — and was continuing his (fantasized) complaint that rules left over from 2016, under the Obama administration, are the real reason the U.S. has been so slow to respond to this pandemic.

But filmable moments in politics are not always taken in full context, and at their most narrowly parsed logical reading:

All of these—in full context, and most-sympathetically read—had a meaning you could understand and perhaps defend. None of that context or meaning survived, as those went from being phrases to weaponized symbols.

Will that happen to “I don’t take responsibility at all”? We will soon see.


Other stage business points:

  • A series of CEOs came to the microphone to describe what their companies were doing to speed testing or help out in other ways. Trump caught the first three or four of them unawares, by shaking their hands as they moved away from the podium. All seemed startled, as you can see in the video.

    Then the other CEOs began to catch on, and a following group of them scuttled away from the podium before Trump could grab them for a handshake, or held their own hands clenched together, in a protective prayer-style grasp.

    Finally, (at 1:06 in the video) you can see Bruce Greenstein, of the LHC group, surprise Trump with an elbow-bump rather than a hand shake. Trump himself seemed completely oblivious to the idea of social distancing. It was also notable that one speaker after another touched and moved around the same microphone, and put his her hands on the sides of the same podium.

  • I mentioned earlier today the uneasy and evolving position of Anthony Fauci, who has been the “voice of science” through this episode as he has during previous medical emergencies. The uneasiness lies in the tension between his decades as a respected scientist, and his current role as a prominent member of Team Trump. Can he retain his long reputation as a straight shooter? While maintaining any influence with Trump.

    Make what you will of his body language through the events today. (He is at far left in the picture below.) . . .

Continue reading. There’s more — including that picture.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 March 2020 at 7:58 pm

Posted in Daily life

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