Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) blasted President Donald Trump as a “weak leader” on Fox News Sunday, claiming the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been a “failure” — though she was unable to concoct an adequate on-the-fly response as to why she was still encouraging Californians to take part in holiday festivities in San Francisco even as travel and social distancing restrictions were in place.
Pelosi has been desperate to reclaim the high ground this week after meeting with a landslide of criticism for blocking an additional $250 billion in funding for small businesses, designed to replenish the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program, a forgivable loan program that ran out of money in just two weeks.
She’s also had difficult recovering from a series of television appearances defending the Democrats’ decision to block the funding, two of which took place in front of Pelosi’s pair of $10,000 SubZero refrigerators in her San Francisco mansion.
Sunday marked her first appearance on Fox News’ signature weekly news program since 2017, and she used it to trash the president and smear protesters who are demanding the country reopen in order to save a stagnant economy that has 22 million Americans out of work.
“Leaders — leaders take responsibility. So I said he’s a weak leader. He doesn’t take responsibility. He places blame — blame on others,” Pelosi told host Chris Wallace. “And that might have been OK before, but we cannot continue down a path that is, again I’ll come back to science, science, science, evidence, data on how we should go forward.”
President Trump announced a tentative plan to reopen the economy last week, with assurances that his top medical advisors, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, were both on board, provided there is sufficient availability of coronavirus tests.
Pelosi seized on the testing remark, however, to call Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic a “failure” — sort of.
“But we’re way late on it and that is a failure. The president gets an F, a failure on the testing,” Pelosi added. “But Fauci — Dr. Fauci’s right. If it is done properly, it hasn’t been and I — I think when he puts in the ‘if it’s done’ is an admission that it hasn’t been done.”
Governors, not the president, have been largely responsible for setting up testing sites and ensuring the availability of testing mechanisms, but there have been problems. Tests have been unreliable, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lost weeks in handling tests because of contamination, and the World Health Organization’s master test was a failure at identifying cases of coronavirus.
Now, however, states like Illinois do say they have the capacity to test any residents who request it (though most states are still requiring a doctor’s note).
It’s also not clear how testing would necessarily improve coronavirus response. Without mandatory, continual testing and tracking of test subjects using an information dragnet — neither of which the U.S. government could Constitutionally require — “availability” and not “completed tests” may become the benchmark.
Unfortunately for Pelosi, Chris Wallace was quick to point out that, even as the Trump administration moved to block travel to the United States from China, she was encouraging Californians to visit Chinatown in San Francisco and take part in Chinese New Year festivities — a party that defied social distancing suggestions in place at the time and could have put a number of California residents in danger.
That was different, Pelosi insisted. She was, she said, trying “to end the discrimination, the stigma, that was going out against the Asian-American community.”