Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s trusted senior adviser and son-in-law, pronounced the federal coronavirus response a “great success” last week.
Mission accomplished, he seemed to be saying. And there’s a good reason for Trump and Kushner to see things that way.
Kushner is right to the extent that the White House coronavirus task force’s goals were to consolidate Trump’s power and limit his accountability, and to thereby try to position him for re-election in the midst of a public health and economic emergency that has claimed the lives of more than 70,000 people in the U.S. so far.
Now, as more people die, he’ll try to pin shortcomings in the response to the crisis on 50 scapegoats — the nation’s governors. He will still have full control over the scarce goods those governors need to protect their residents, restricting their ability to attack him or even point out publicly any failure of the federal government to supply them.
But those weren’t the priorities of many of the federal health and emergency-response experts who worked on the task force or were familiar with its operations. Nor were they the first concern of many governors, mayors, lawmakers, hospital administrators, suppliers, distributors and front-line workers who believed that protecting the public from the pandemic should be Trump’s focus.