Rex Huppke | Trump fearlessly surrenders to virus as cases surge

Rex Huppke Contributing Columnist

We now know, with certainty, that the Trump administration has bravely surrendered to the coronavirus pandemic and plans on doing nothing to slow the spread of a disease that has already claimed 225,000 American lives.

On Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said this during a CNN interview: “We are not going to control the pandemic.”

How valiant.

It reminded me of that time back in 1941 when President Franklin Roosevelt, in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, said to both houses of Congress: “As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that no measures whatsoever be taken for our defense. It would take us a really long time to overcome this premeditated invasion, and the American people in their righteous might will win by absolutely ignoring this stuff and moving on with their lives. Let’s all go grab some dinner.”

As another record-high number of coronavirus cases were reported — the highest since the pandemic began — CNN anchor Jake Tapper pressed Meadows on the administration’s apparent decision to sit back and wait for a vaccine and therapeutics rather than putting in the hard work necessary to contain the spread: “Why not get control of the pandemic?”

To which Meadows replied: “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”

It’s not at all like the flu — just ask all the dead people and the survivors who suffered permanent organ damage — but the Trump administration’s willingness to fearlessly stick to throwing in the towel and running away from the coronavirus disaster like a herd of pigeon-hearted weenies made me think of another famous quote from Roosevelt.

In a 1940 fireside chat, he told Americans they needed to definitely not do anything whatsoever to provide additional support to Great Britain as it battled Germany:

“We must for sure not become the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is a nonemergency. We must not apply ourselves to our task with any resolution, any sense of urgency, any spirit of patriotism and sacrifice. It’s just not worth it, to be honest. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m bored of all this ‘war talk.’ Let’s just let them sort it out.”

While Meadows was on CNN waving his white flag, we learned that five aides or advisers to Vice President Mike Pence had tested positive for the coronavirus. It might seem “bad” to have a COVID-19 outbreak around the man who chairs the White House’s coronavirus task force, but that doesn’t apply here, since the White House has now adopted a bold “surrender at all costs” footing.

It might also appear “not particularly good” that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who would have unflinchingly abandoned the Alamo, on Sunday requested the use of a military hospital because civilian hospitals in El Paso are being overwhelmed by new coronavirus patients.

But never fear. Help is not coming in any way, shape or form.

President Donald Trump, at a Sunday campaign rally in New Hampshire, declared the surging pandemic officially ignored.

“Even without the vaccines, we’re rounding the turn, it’s going to be over,” the president lied, intrepidly.

It hearkened back to that time in 1940 when Winston Churchill gave his first speech as prime minster to a nation at war with Germany:

“You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Defeat. Defeat at all costs. Defeat in spite of all terror. Defeat however easy and not-at-all stressful the road may be. For without defeat, we might actually have to do some stuff. And nobody wants to deal with that.”

The administration’s coronavirus approach also has echoes of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who after being forced to leave the island of Corregidor during World War II, famously told the troops he left behind: “I will not be back. See ya!”

And, going back to Churchill, we should always remember his bold words to the House of Commons in 1940, suggesting that England shouldn’t muck about with the Germans: “We shall not fight on the beaches, we shall not fight on the landing grounds, we shall not fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall not fight in the hills; we shall surrender. Because, man, there are a TON of Nazis out there. No way we’re going to be able to contain them. Let’s call it a day.”

Rex Huppke is a Chicago Tribune columnist. Readers may send him email at [email protected] Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.