President Donald Trump has largely struggled to implement an effective large-scale response to the Coronavirus outbreak in the United States. This Saturday on the White House lawn, he resorted to referring to some of his opponents as “little problem children” amidst the turmoil. It’s unclear who exactly he was referring to in that clip — Trump tends to mask ineptitude by talking in vague circles — but the commentary came amidst his ongoing public belittling of concerned governors across the country who have requested the material support that he was discussing.
Referring to the implementation of the Defense Production Act to order the production of necessary medical equipment, Trump said:
‘I would say we’ll use it again once or twice. We have a couple of little problem children, and we’ll use it where we have to. But overall, I tell you, the private, free enterprise system is at work like nobody’s seen in a long time. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.’
As the reporter tried to ask Trump what exact supplies he might have in mind to assist with the production of, he walked away.
President Trump: "We'll use [the Defense Production Act] again maybe once of twice, we have a couple of little problem children." pic.twitter.com/mJrxRkgRwf
— The Hill (@thehill) March 28, 2020
In fact, local authorities have been struggling to obtain supplies like tens of thousands of ventilators that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has been after as confirmed Coronavirus cases in his state have skyrocketed. State authorities there have also estimated that they’ll end up needing a total of 140,000 hospital beds across the state, which is vastly more than the total of about 53,000 beds that they currently have. To assist with that need, a Navy hospital ship is departing for the NYC-area this weekend. Trump was going to see it off on Saturday when heading out of the White House.
Trump is leaving the WH for the first time in over a week today, to see off the USNS Comfort, even as travel is still discouraged. Trump said it was patriotic. Terry McAuliffe dismissed it as a "re-election photo op" that was a "total waste of time."
— Annie Karni (@anniekarni) March 28, 2020
Nevertheless, in other situations, Trump has specifically derided New York state’s requests. During a recent appearance on Fox News with host Sean Hannity, he said that he flatly did not believe that the state needed the tens of thousands of ventilators that they’ve said they’re after.
As he put it:
“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go into major hospitals sometimes and they’ll have two ventilators. Now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?'”
New York authorities have flatly contradicted him. Cuomo called Trump’s take “incorrect and grossly uninformed.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo tells CNN’s @ShimonPro that President Trump’s tweet about ventilators being found in storage in New York is “incorrect and grossly uninformed.” https://t.co/YClh0TI2eN pic.twitter.com/YVsRwYwEs0
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) March 27, 2020
Trump has also lashed out at companies, which could be among the “little problem children” that he had in mind when talking with reporters at the White House. No matter which way you cut it, the situation with the president’s incessant belligerence is not great.
On Friday, he turned his ire against General Motors chief Mary Barra, tweeting:
‘As usual with “this” General Motors, things just never seem to work out. They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, “very quickly”. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary B. Invoke “P”.’
That last part, he clarified in a follow-up tweet, referred to the invocation of the Defense Production Act.
As usual with “this” General Motors, things just never seem to work out. They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, “very quickly”. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary B. Invoke “P”.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020