The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Hansen: Give credit where due, event to Trump


March 8, 2020

Well, President Trump’s first reaction to the Center for Disease Control’s announcement two weeks ago that a coronavirus epidemic was nearly inevitable was his usual stamping of feet. He denied facts that disagreed with his gut, which is motivated by what favors his immediate political needs.

His lackeys moved in. They said nefarious, insidious, crafty, sinister Democrats had infiltrated the CDC to make it say horrible things about a major outbreak of corona virus’ COVID-19 with the sole purpose of scoring political points against their fantastic, tremendous, greatest president ever.

Then, it seems, an amazing thing happened.

Trump started responding to the COVID-19 threat like an adult.

He asked Congress for $2.5 billion to help address the situation flanked by Vice President Pence and even some CDC experts.

The Democrats, of course, responded by asking for more, seeking $8 billion. It’s kind of their job, I guess. Trump surprisingly responded, “OK, if you need more I can live with that,” or words to that effect.

Then he put Pence in charge of dealing with the issue.

Those of us who are not hard-line fundamentalist Christians (there are other valid belief systems, you know), rolled our eyes a bit, expecting him to reject science and ordering prayer.

To those to whom science is a process, not a belief system, science is the action that makes prayer effective.

So far, Pence has responded as if COVID-19 were a serious threat. His first step was picking Debbie Birx, who has guided AIDS and HIV efforts, to guide the process.

He has a record of at least some common sense on health issues.

As the governor of Indiana, Pence, like Republican Gov. Susana Martinez in New Mexico, had the good sense to enact the Medicaid provisions of Obamacare in his state, instead of denying people benefits because — Obama, that’s why.

Pence did impose a catch: If you smoked, your premium rose. He was criticized because poor people would be affected more. What critics ignored was that if you quit smoking you could afford the premiums. And maybe you’d be less poor. Plus, you’d need less medical care.

Pence also stemmed a panic over a patient treated for a contagious Middle Eastern disease, who was effectively isolated and treated. Pence conducted a news conference in front of the hospital where the patient was being treated to show that it was safe to use that hospital.

Pence’s record of imposing his religious beliefs on health programs, however, is disturbing.

He caused delays in needle-exchange programs for drug users as a means of curbing AIDS and HIV, because he thought such exchanges encouraged immoral behavior.

Eventually, faced with evidence that needle exchanges work, he relented.

Overall, I am so far encouraged by the president’s adult response to COVID-19, and putting Pence in charge shows that Trump considers this problem worthy of highest-level attention.

This is an exception to Trump’s rule of self-indulgent, impulsive chaos, so I’m still voting against him in November. In the meantime, I’ll give credit where it is due, even to Trump.

Steve Hansen writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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