'Extreme weakness': Conservative slams Trump's rhetorical pivot on coronavirus after spending 2 months believing ‘every line the Chinese government was selling’
President Donald Trump has recently made a point of using rhetoric like “Chinese virus” and “Wuhan virus” to describe the deadly coronavirus pandemic, and a White House official has been drawing criticism for calling it the “kung flu.” But conservative journalist Jim Swift, in The Bulwark, finds it hypocritical that Trump is now being critical of the government in Mainland China — as back in January, he was praising that government for its efforts to contain the outbreak.
Swift writes that earlier this year, Trump “repeatedly downplayed the severity of the virus” — and he did so despite warnings from intelligence officials that COVID-19 had the potential to become a serious pandemic and kill people all over the world.
“Now that President Trump has been forced to acknowledge reality, he has made a rhetorical pivot in order to make it seem as though he has been the one who was tough on China all along,” Swift asserts. “This ‘tough on China’ pivot is premised mainly on his willingness to troll the (Communist Party of China) by calling it the ‘China virus’ — something he began on March 16 after a month of calling it the ‘coronavirus.’”
Swift adds that in January, Trump was speaking favorably of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s efforts to contain coronavirus.
“If you look at what President Trump actually told the public about China — and consider reports about how he handled the virus internally — you understand that this ‘China virus’ pivot comes from a place of extreme weakness and vulnerability,” Swift emphasizes. “Because for two critical months as the crisis unfolded, nobody was a bigger Xi leader than Donald J. Trump.”
On January 24, for example, Trump applauded Jinping for his “transparency” with coronavirus.
China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts an… https://t.co/Gv3NQQlQCh— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1579900695.0
“For the next 50 days,” Swift explains, “Trump proceeded to publicly praise Xi for his work on containing the coronavirus over a dozen times while privately insisting to his hollowed out national security team that drastic actions were not needed to contain the virus because he trusted the information out of China.”
On February 7, Swift notes, Trump insisted, “Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation. We are working closely with China to help.”
Just had a long and very good conversation by phone with President Xi of China. He is strong, sharp and powerfully… https://t.co/U1HdLglu4p— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1581071482.0
In January and February, Swift asserts, Trump was still acting like Jinping’s very own “Beijing Bob.”
“Trump’s obsequious treatment of Xi continued until March 16 in spite of the video evidence coming out of Wuhan, the expert advice being provided by his intelligence teams and the virus’ spread on American shores,” Swift emphasizes.
Swift is critical of the Chinese government’s initial response to coronavirus, asserting that it was “at best flawed and at worst criminal.”
“Models suggest that had the Chinese government reacted just three weeks earlier, the spread of the virus might have been vastly reduced,” Swift asserts. “The problem isn’t that Trump is now trying to blame China — it’s that he spent nearly two months lapping up every line the Chinese government was selling.”