The Speech Trump Must but Cannot Give

By Ted Rall

April 4, 2020 8 min read

Some of my commentary about politics is presented in the form of "advice" to the ruling classes. Please understand: I don't really expect those in the ruling class to take my advice. My advice is not really directed toward them. It is a theoretical exercise.

I am really speaking to you, the people. My goal is to set a standard of behavior and policy to which we are entitled and ought to expect the ruling class to conform. I set a minimal bar. I know that the ruling class will not meet the minimum standard. I want our rulers' failures to be placed in the sharpest possible relief so we can judge them accordingly and take the next logical step, getting rid of them.

If I were a speechwriter, I would advise President Donald Trump to deliver something like the following from the Oval Office on national television. He will not. He cannot. The system won't allow it.

But he has to. And he won't. Which is why the regime is on the way out.

"My fellow Americans: I know you are scared. I'm scared, too. Anyone who is paying attention is frightened.

"We will lose some of our sons, our daughters, our spouses, our parents and our friends. Even after the coronavirus has been eradicated, it will take years to recover from the economic shock. Pain, suffering and death are inevitable. We will lose many of our best people.

"But I want you to know that we will get through this. America survived the Civil War, which killed 2% of the population at the time, the Spanish flu epidemic and the Great Depression. The COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered as a challenge on par with those horrors but not greater.

"Today I want to assure you that no American will come out of this economically ruined. It will be tough. But no one will lose their home to eviction or foreclosure. No one will go hungry. The United States government has ample resources to meet the basic needs of every American. This assurance goes beyond the end date of the present crisis. No one will be asked in six or 12 or 18 months, when we come out on the other side of this, to pay back rent or pay mortgage or pay giant medical bills.

"This assurance extends to noncitizens. The COVID-19 virus does not care if you are a native-born citizen, naturalized, a permanent resident or an undocumented worker, so neither do I. We are all in this together. COVID-19 is a lowest-common-denominator problem; neglect of the physical and medical needs of the most disadvantaged among us will increase the rate of transmission throughout the entire population. For the time being, there are no Americans; there are only people who happen to live in the United States.

"This and many other decisions I will be making in the coming days, weeks and months may be unpopular. I take full responsibility. If you disapprove of my policies, please vote against me in the coming election, which I personally guarantee will take place even if most votes are cast online.

"There are no Democrats or Republicans, only people of the United States. This is not a time to promote conservative, moderate or liberal values — only intelligent, fact-based decision-making. I am open to any and all suggestions and ideas for how to address the health care and economic challenges that lie ahead of us. For that reason, I am setting up a special White House telephone hotline and website to encourage academics, experts and ordinary citizens among our extraordinarily talented people to contact us.

"Because this is a global pandemic, I am asking leaders and top medical and economic experts from every country to join me via teleconference at the United Nations next week for an open-ended international discussion on what the world can do to slow and eventually stop the spread of COVID-19. To those countries with whom the United States does not have diplomatic relations such as Iran, North Korea and Cuba, we wish to restore full diplomatic relations now.

"It never hurts to talk. Nations with whom we have fallen out should know that our attitude has changed, that we want to engage with them on every level and help them as much as we can. I am personally reaching out to the leaders of countries that have been hit hardest by COVID-19 such as China, Iran and Italy. High-level liaisons will keep lines of communication open at all times.

"As you know, I have been personally criticized for failing to take the coronavirus threat seriously enough early enough, and for failing to order the manufacturing of testing kits. Former President Harry Truman, who sat at this desk 75 years ago, said that 'the buck stops here,' and he was right. I screwed up. I am sorry.

"As president I am powerful. But I can't make the clock run backward. All I can do now is learn from my mistakes, roll up my sleeves and give you my very best, as well as the very best leadership at all levels of government. Toward that end, I will provide you with daily press briefings during which I will accept many questions from journalists around the world and let you know what your government is doing on your behalf.

"My goal is to get every American tested for the novel coronavirus and for the antibodies that show whether you have ever had COVID-19. I will keep you informed about the development of the tests, their distribution, and where and how you will be able to get them.

"No one should suffer or die because they cannot receive medical care, whether for coronavirus or other afflictions, due to an overwhelmed health care system. We will create a state-of-the-art referral system to transport everyone who needs care to a facility where they can get it.

"The $2 trillion stimulus package that I signed into law after a bipartisan vote in both the House and the Senate is merely a start. We are going to issue regular payments to citizens and businesses to make sure they can meet their expenses as long as the crisis continues. Those payments will also be put into the hands of noncitizens including undocumented workers because, despite my belief that Americans should always come first, leaving out the undocumented means endangering Americans, too. Special outreach efforts will make sure that the homeless not only receive their payments but are also provided with proper long-term shelter.

"We will get through this. We will defeat the coronavirus. Then we can mourn our dead and resume — as we must — the vibrant political debate that makes our country great.

"Good night."

Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of the biography "Bernie." You can support Ted's hard-hitting political cartoons and columns by sponsoring his work on Patreon. To find out more about Ted Rall and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: hoekstrarogier at Pixabay

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