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Kennedy: Why does it have to be us vs. them?

Each day, as this COVID-19 situation continues, there seem to be more questions than answers. Many come from the actions and words of President Donald Trump and his minions, who are fearful of crossing the boss and becoming the target of his nasty tweets.

One of the biggest and most important of these questions is, why in the world does nearly every statement from Trump or the White House have to be constructed in a “us vs. them, left vs. right, or Democrats vs. Republicans” fashion. The virus knows no party, no geographic boundaries, or conflicting idealisms. This thing is an equal opportunity life destroyer, but Trump and his loyal followers don't seem to understand that simple fact.

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In a Baltimore Sun article, Calvin Woodward, of the Associated Press, put on paper what I and quite a few of my friends had been saying for some time. The headline read, “Empathy outside president’s orbit.” The article chronicled Trump’s responses to the various unforeseen events that have occurred during his term, such as the hurricanes, where he cavalierly tossed out rolls of paper towels to folks whose homes had washed away, and more importantly the current pandemic, where his public statements seem to always be confrontational rather than reassuring.

In comparing Trump to former presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama during trying times, Woodward quotes Andrew Polsky, a political science professor at Hunter College, “I’ve never seen a president with less capacity for empathy. He doesn’t even try. It’s way outside his comfort zone.”

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In times of trouble, presidents usually recall words spoken in reassurance by their predecessors, Trump, instead, attacks Obama and, as Woodward put it, “snorts at Bush’s appeal ... for empathy and unity at a time of national emergency.”  Henry Cisneros, Clinton’s housing secretary, recalled Clinton’s response after the Oklahoma City bombing and Bush’s at ground zero after 9/11 and remarked: “There are moments when you realize this is not about politics and this is not about momentary victories and this is not about your own legacy, it’s about the burden you’re carrying for the people.” Does the man have no heart?

Another question without an answer is, Why do the protesters against the continuing shutdowns in some states have to bring their AK-47s and AR-15s? Are they truly planning an armed attack on the governor’s mansions or Capitol buildings? Are those who are pushing for the immediate re-opening of all portions of the economy that clueless about how the virus is spread and the danger of a widespread restart of the pandemic if their wishes are granted?

Along those same lines, what is the big deal about wearing a mask while in stores or when you’re going to be around a group of people? Dr. Fauci has explained, at almost every press conference that wearing a covering of some kind over your mouth and nose is a simple act of respect for your fellow man or woman. The fact that Trump eschews the mask at every turn, especially when he visits facilities with prominent signs requiring masks, and with his hosts dutifully following their own rules, shows dramatically that he doesn’t respect anyone. The fact that he gets a daily virus check is of no consequence. Vice President Pence is equally as clueless when it comes to masking where it might be required of visitors as well as workers.

Another big question is about the availability of medical supplies for our states and individual hospitals. Why is the White House, and by extension the U.S. government, forcing individual states, cities, and in many cases individual medical facilities, to source and purchase necessary supplies to deal with those infected with COVID-19 and the testing supplies, often in competition with the federal government and each other, which drives up the cost for all? The feds should be doing the purchasing and distribution of all virus-related supplies.

On a subject dear to my heart and somewhat connected to the ongoing pandemic, I’m wondering, why is it mostly the players with the largest contracts who are doing the loudest complaining about what they should be paid if the Major League Baseball season ever begins? One doesn’t hear from those whose contracts call for the minimum salary or just slightly above and who really need their pay, even for a partial season, to adequately support their families. May cooler heads prevail.

Stay safe and enjoy our slowly increasing freedoms.

Bill Kennedy writes every other Monday from Taneytown. You may contact him at wlkennedyiii@verizon.net

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