White House pandemic team: Labradoodle breeder, internet thug, college senior (opinion)
While Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator, did shoot down Trump’s bizarre ideas during the news conference, other members of the Trump team have not inspired much confidence.
Brian Harrison, who serves as the chief of staff to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, was tasked with handling the department’s virus response in January.
There’s also Michael Caputo, who is the new spokesman at the Department of Health and Human Services. No one familiar with Caputo would say he has trouble getting his point across. That’s not in doubt. What is troubling is the character, temperament and judgment revealed in what he says.
On March 12, Caputo responded to a baseless conspiracy theory making the rounds that the United States brought the coronavirus to China. He retorted by tweeting that “millions of Chinese suck the blood out of rabid bats as an appetizer and eat the ass out of anteaters.”
He responded to CNN’s request for comment by saying, “fair game, dude. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me at all.” Caputo went on to say that he regularly deletes his tweets “because it drives people mad” and defended his past Twitter behavior by saying he was a “defender of the President.”
In addition to the gross factual distortions and derogatory comments, Caputo’s tweets reveal a mind that produces vile content. This is not a one-off mistake.
Add to that Caputo’s postings that include anti-Semitic tropes, and you get the sense that someone would have to make a real effort to be less qualified for the task of providing trustworthy information to a country in crisis than Caputo.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration has proved again and again that qualifications are not an essential consideration when it comes to hiring.
That college senior mentioned in my opening paragraph?
When I interviewed Trump at length for a biography about five years ago, he explained that he wants to be surrounded by people who put their relationship with him first.
Whatever one might think of their policy positions, these people had serious and relevant experience and would’ve likely served the country better than those who came after them.
He and Birx demonstrate, in their public appearances, the heroic effort that must be made by competent experts to appease the ego of the President so they can keep serving the American people.
Those who work for the President are subject to his loyalty code.
He comes first, no matter the crisis affecting the nation, and the federal team fighting this deadly threat is forced, in many cases, to prioritize loyalty to the President above science.