Many Americans are wondering why the federal government – the president, in particular – was so slow in responding to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
During an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Monday, Washington Post national security reporter Greg Miller explained one reason why Donald Trump didn’t take the threat seriously: He doesn’t read his daily intelligence briefings.
“Unlike his predecessors, he does not sit down each day to digest this product,” Miller said. “He doesn’t read it, doesn’t skim it.”
“He relies almost exclusively on an oral briefing that he has curtailed to roughly two or three times a week,” he added.
Washington Post reporter Greg Miller says Trump doesn’t read or even skim the presidential daily briefing, which is likely one reason he didn’t take the coronavirus threat seriously. #ctl #p2 pic.twitter.com/Soi2913B4S
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) April 28, 2020
How much of this material registered with the president because one, he doesn’t read the [President’s Daily Brief]. Unlike his predecessors, he does not sit down each day to digest this product. He doesn’t read it, doesn’t skim it. He relies almost exclusively on an oral briefing that he has curtailed to roughly two or three times a week. So he’s getting an oral briefing from an intelligence analyst, but he skips the reading of the PDB. So it’s hard to know how much of this material actually made its way to him. We know that it’s included in the brief and that brief is delivered to the White House each and every day. We don’t know how much it registers to him. Across this stretch of time, of course, he is in January and February – the period of time we’re writing about – he is very dismissive of the threat of this virus. As late as late February, he is still saying it’s going to go away, it’s going to magically disappear. There is no big deal. It’s going to go down to zero, things like this.
Having a boring, competent president can save lives
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton wasn’t considered the most flashy political candidate. By her own admission, she didn’t have the same political presence that Barack Obama or Bill Clinton have always had.
What Hillary Clinton did demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt was that she knew the issues inside and out. She built her campaign upon a series of detailed policy proposals, while Trump built his on bumper sticker slogans and racist dog whistles.
While Trump ended up winning* that election more than three years ago, his presidency has made the strongest case yet that it’s probably a better idea to elect the boring, competent candidate – one who will, I don’t know, read the daily briefings – over the reality TV game show host.
In this case, it would have saved actual American lives.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.