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Nikki Haley, Trump, Let the Govs. do It, and the Constitution, Part 2

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"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)

Prime Minister Modi meets South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in New York: What an Excellent Authoritarian Model for Her.
Prime Minister Modi meets South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in New York: What an Excellent Authoritarian Model for Her.
(Image by (From Wikimedia) Prime Minister's Office, Government of India, Author: Prime Minister's Office, Government of India)
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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President . . . is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else."

Theodore Roosevelt, Editorial in The Kansas City Star May 7, 1918



This is the second section of a column that might be better entitled "Gov. Haley: Let Me Introduce You to the Constitution," or "Gov. Haley Continues her Run for the Next Open Republican Nomination for President, Either in 2020 Should the Opportunity Magically [to use Trumps' favorite way of thinking] Present itself this Year, or in the Natural Course of Things in 2024, that is if Trump Loses this Time Around and There is an Election that Year." (That last clause? If Trump wins in 2020, he and his ruling class and political supporters and Evangelical Religious Right ERR, will establish a form of fascism in the U.S. If that happens it is highly unlikely that there will be another election in the U.S. for quite some time. That of course will be the theme of an upcoming column.) The first section of this set was published here on April 20, 2020. And so, to the matter at hand.

On Nikki Haley, "Let the Governors Do It," and the Constitution of the United Sates

In an Op-Ed Column in The New York Times on April 8, 2020, Ex-Governor/Ex-Ambassador/Future-Republican-Presidential-Candidate-Wanna-Be Nikki Haley had this to say about the discussion over whether the President of the United States should bear the primary responsibility for providing the leadership and the resources to develop and implement a national program to confront and overcome what is fast becoming a national disaster, affecting the whole of the United States, or the individual State Governors should:

"The coronavirus presents enormous national challenges that call for a strong federal response. But we should not lose sight of the essential role that states and governors must play. America is better served when presidents respect the diversity of states instead of dictating uniform solutions. . . .

"[Governors] have complicated and difficult jobs. In this crisis, as in any, some are showing their competence and leadership, while others are revealing their shortcomings. . . . Governors who complain about the Trump administration are, in some cases, attempting to distract from their own failures to plan and execute [emphasis added] . . . . [That of course why the state which is the worst hit so far, which has a Governor who Trump calls a "complainer,' has, as of this writing declining case and death rates. Of course, that's my very own New York.]

"Our Constitution has it right: Keep control and decision making close to the people. We are seeing that play out in every state today. We face a painful challenge, but we will get through it. When we do, we will look back and see that governors rose to meet the challenge, and they did it best when Washington did not impose too much on them."

Memo to Ex-Governor/Ex-Ambassador/Future-Republican-Presidential-Candidate-Wanna-Be Haley. In the 1780s, for the governing principles and procedures for our new nation, our Founding Fathers tried something called the Articles of Confederation. It gave broad powers to each of the 13 ex-colonies, very little to the central government that the ex-colonies desperately needed to get them to work together for the common good of themselves, their citizens, and the new nation. The structure established by the Articles didn't work. The same Founding Fathers then came up with a new plan. They called it the Constitution.

The Constitution is introduced by a paragraph that is rarely quoted, cited, or made reference to. But in fact, the Preamble is the most important component of the document. For it is the Statement of Purpose of the six Articles of Design for the Government that follow it. (For the edification of the President, who along with everything else he has never read, has likely never read the Constitution there is also an Article VII. It is the Ratification Article.) The Constitution is a document that for the first time in history anywhere in the world set forth a government structure that was not headed by a King or Queen or his/her equivalent, and one that divided the powers of control over the three main functions of any government --- executive, legislative, and judicial --- among three separate, co-equal (on paper at least) governmental branches.

The Preamble begins with the words: "We the People of the United States. . ." [emphasis added]. The COVID-19 pandemic is a national problem. The spread of the virus does not recognize state borders. As has been dealt with in a wide variety of previous writings (including three of my own), President Trump's response to the pandemic has been found to be extremely lacking (and that is putting it VERY mildly). The history to date (April 12, 2020, when the original version of this column was written, still most valid today, May 6, 2020) of Trump's denial/ignoring/ignorance (or whatever you want to call it) of what is now a national public health and medical, as well as an economic, disaster of increasing proportions has been detailed in an article in The New York Times entitled "He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump's Failure on the Virus." I published a column on a similar theme in March.

And so, this pandemic is a national problem. It is caused by a virus that does not recognize state lines. (And as it happens, because of the woeful state of testing, which requires a national solution to be effective, we still have only a very loose handle on it.) The problem is of course to be solved with the Governors, and indeed the local governments, of all the 50 states. But, again, because of the nature of the virus, it cannot be solved by each of those governors acting independently and, for example, as has been widely reported (and retold in The Times article cited just above), having to compete financially with other states, and in some cases with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, (which happens right now to have an acting secretary [so what else is new with the Trump Administration?]) to obtain very necessary, very basic, supplies and equipment.

So, this gave (and still gives) the lie to Ms. Haley's argument. That is, the principles of the Preamble stand, even in the face of Trump. But indeed, so does the rest of the text of the Preamble give the lie to Ms. Haley's argument. That text, to repeat, is the Statement of Purpose for the Constitution: "in order to form a more per fect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the com mon defence (sic), promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, [we] do ordain and establish this Consti tution for the United States of America."

Thus, in addition to focusing on the United States (not the 13 separate states), the Preamble prescribes the purpose of the Constitution as:

1. To form a more perfect the Union, that is not to split it up, hither and yon, to suit given purposes at given times.

2. To establish justice, that is for the "people of the United States." Why that might even include making sure that every inhabitant has access to quality health care, especially in a national health emergency.

3. To insure domestic tranquility might cover such matters as dealing with the national public health issues raised by the pandemic in a rational, national (and timely) manner.

4. To provide for the common defence, that is not the uncommon defence as having each state operate on its own in dealing with a highly infectious agent that doesn't recognize State borders.

5. To promote the general welfare might even include something like, dare I say it, a national health care cost-financing system that covers all citizens, that is actually run by the Federal government.

6. Finally, to secure the blessings of liberty by actually doing the very best job that could have been done, at the national/Federal level to have brought the potential pandemic under control before it could become what it has so tragically become for so many people in terms of their health and their economic status.

Yes, Gov./Amb. Haley, the COVID-19 pandemic is, by the nature of the virus, a national problem, not a 50-state problem. Continuing to hide behind "it's the Governors' problem" as an excuse for the many mistakes President Trump has made so far, may be good Trumpite "it's all their fault" politics for the Presidential campaign. But it's certainly not at all helpful for getting the nation on the path to first, stopping the pandemic in its tracks, and then starting the nation on the road to recovery.

We all know how much Trump likes enemies and how he is trying to set them up one-by-one, starting with the Governors. "China" is now definitely on the Trumpannity et al menu. See for example Hugh Hewitt, with Rev. Sharpton, April 11, 2020. But that turned out to be just the opening for the Hannity-Carlson tag team, every night on Fox. And of course, there is that poor old punching bag, the WHO.

But, and speaking here as a career public health physician, who knows how many more drastic errors the President will make in the future, like, for example, he is already doing by encouraging those Governors who are in his pocket politically to "open up," now, before anyone is ready. Indeed, as this is happening the disease will very likely be back in pandemic stage by June 1, that is if it had even left it, on Trump's say-so, by May 1. Which of course, it didn't. As of now we have the CDC/FEMA (you know, those two leftie organizations) projection of up to 3,000 deaths per day by June 1, 2020.

I wonder what Ms. Haley will be saying then. Oh I know, just like a good lock-step Trumpite, she will be blaming the Governors once again (as well as the Chinese, as well as the WHO, as well as Die Luegen Presse, as well as . . . Oh yes, I forgot. The Democrats.)


Post-script, for May 6, 2020: "Trump and His 'Warriors' "

In his visit to a mask-making facility in Arizona on May 5, at which he did not wear a mask despite signs saying that they were required, Five/Bone-spur/Deferments Trump famously said:

"I'm viewing our great citizens of this country, to a certain extent, and to a large extent, as warriors. They're warriors," Mr. Trump told reporters, adding: "We can't keep our country closed. We have to open our country."

So Trump views the U.S. people as [his] soldiers to be "sent into battle" against COVID-19. One hardly knows where to start on this one. First of all, as I have shown in my three previous columns on Trump's "Magical Thinking," having not the foggiest idea of what a virus is, what is the illness this one causes, and how it spreads (from person-to-person through the air), he has obviously anthropomorphized it, so that U.S. citizens can "go into battle against it" and somehow "win," in the sense of "opening up the country."

He does not distinguish between this battle and a conventional war in which one's armies are facing opposing armies, both of which are comprised of people. Trump just doesn't understand that his "warriors," who he is ready to send to their deaths, will be dying alight. But in a conventional war, so would troops on the other side. This is magical thinking.

Let me say, that I am hardly the only one to use the term to describe what goes one in Trump's brain. One hears it more-and-more from a variety of sources. Consider this in the lead story in the New York Times of May 6, 2020: "Any notion that the coronavirus threat is fading away appears to be magical thinking, at odds with what the latest numbers show."

Second of all, in this mythical "battle" he is ready to send who knows how many U.S. involuntarily to their deaths. (This from a man who skipped the draft for the War on Viet Nam.) Third of all, since the virus is a virus not a person, losing people on your side to death does not mean that the population of viruses is in any way diminished. Thus, he has absolutely no understanding that victory over the virus is not to be won by more people getting sick and dying but by fewer people doing so. Fourth of all, he has no understanding that the only way that victory can be won, without either an effective, safe treatment or an effective, safe vaccine, neither of which is on the horizon right now, is by the set of policies set forth in the Administration's own re-opening guidelines, which is now advocating be for the most part ignored. Fifth of all, and truly the most outrageous, why does Trump "want the economy to come back" regardless of how many people die in the process? Because, as he indirectly and his minions directly have let us know, he thinks that that is his only pathway to re-election (other than wide-spread cheating of many types, which of course the Trumpublicans are going to try to implement on a grand scale).

Of course, because this corona virus doesn't know from state boundaries, to make it possible to implement the Administration's formal guidelines nationally requires a national, Federally-run, uniform testing program, which he absolutely refuses to implement. As detailed in the series on his Magical Thinking, there are two primary reasons for this. First, Trump sees the virus solely as a number so the Magic Trick he has for it is to keep that number as low as he possibly can. The worse the counting, the lower the number. Second, the Chamber of Commerce has told him in no uncertain terms that he must not use the only tool he has at his disposal in order to do that, the Defense Production Act. Briefly, that is because for the Chamber and the major elements of the U.S. Ruling Class it represents two of the dirtiest words in the English language are "national" and "planning."

And so, what will happen? Under Trumpublican pressure, more states will "open up." More people will get sick and die. The economy will still be in terrible shape, because for a variety of reasons many folks will have little money to buy things. And, to come back to the beginning of this column, what will Trump and Haley and Hannity et al be doing then? Why, blaming it all on the Democrats, the Governors, the Chinese, and Die Luegen Presse, for openers.

(Article changed on May 7, 2020 at 02:08)

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY). As well as having been a regular political columnist on several national websites for over 20 years, he is the author/co-author/editor/co-editor of 37 books Currently, on the columns side, in addition to his position on OpEdNews as a Trusted Author, he is a regular contributor to From The G-Man.  In the past he has been a contributor to, among other publications, The Greanville PostThe Planetary Movement, and  He was also a triathlete for 37 seasons, doing over 250 multi-sport races.  Among his 37 books (from the late 1970s, mainly in the health, sports, and health care organization fields) are, on politics: The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022; A Futuristic Novel (originally published 1996; the 3rd version was published by Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, Brewster, NY, sadly beginning to come true, advertised on OpEdNews and available on  (more...)

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