Happy Monday, everyone! We have a big week coming up with the Republican National Convention starting tonight. But Trump got the festivities rolling Sunday evening, with a breakthrough, historic, cataclysmic, monumental announcement that the FDA was authorizing expanded use of experimental blood plasma treatments for COVID-19 patients. Trump wins again!
Or, unlike many Republicans, maybe we should take a closer look at this news to understand things like facts and truth.
Convalescent plasma is contained in the blood of those who have already survived COVID-19. It has antibodies, which SHOULD help wipe out the disease. That means that this special plasma could lead to treatments and maybe even a vaccine. That’s why it has been used in tests and trials already as part of the fight against the coronavirus.
Trump is desperate to get a win on the pandemic going into the convention. The DNC was all about what a terrible job Trump and his administration have done, and Republicans properly feel a need to reverse that narrative.
At this point in the story we allude to what Trump does well: apply pressure. The more I study this part of his personality, the more I believe he could have been an effective leader, if he were also intelligent and empathetic. But, alas…
So, on Saturday, Trump, potentially having been told about the reasonable promise of convalescent plasma, and, more importantly, desperate for a COVID-19 victory, tweets that the FDA is part of the deep state for allegedly slow-walking therapeutics and vaccines.
OK – so Trump wants to cancel the FDA because they are out to get him, even though he appointed the people running that department. Amazingly, twenty-four hours later, the head of the FDA is in the briefing room with Trump to announce expanded use authorization of convalescent plasma.
Let’s recap – on Friday convalescent plasma was undergoing testing to see if it could be more widely used. On Saturday Trump said the FDA was part of the deep state. On Sunday, the FDA updated its position on convalescent plasma.
Time to poll the audience. The FDA changed it’s positions because:
- Additional scientific data became available which conclusively established that decrease in mortality resulted from the use of convalescent plasma; or
- Members of the FDA deep state got busted; or
- Trump applied pressure and threats in order to have the expanded use authorization (EUA) issued for political reasons.
We may never know the true answer, but there has certainly been no additional data released that would account for the change in position.
I remember reading stories about LBJ in the Senate, how he would use his size and authority to lean on his peers in order to push his agenda. The ‘Johnson Treatment’ may not have been the most touchy-feely way to get things done in Washington, but it was, to some extent, successful.
Fast forward to the Trump era and we see a ‘leader’ who’s is legitimately gifted in his ability to apply pressure to leverage his position and agenda. Trump has so many failings, but this is not necessarily one of them. This could be a strength. For someone else, it could even be a super-power.
But, as with all of Trump’s other gifts and privilege, it has been squandered and perverted in the service of greed and crippling insecurity. Another wasted opportunity.