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Somebody loan me a dime

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I want to highlight a couple of comments from the thread below about Trump undermining his own CDC by sniping about the recommendations the agency has made for how to handle school reopenings in the fall:

Murc:

It’s such a small thing, but… the fact that that tweet exists, at all, is very stark proof of the incompetence at work in the current administration.

Hear me out.

Even in our least competent modern presidencies (JFK when he was out of his mind on drugs, Dubya, Nixon when in cornered rat mode, etc.) something like that could not have happened in the situation we are in. We’re in the midst of a pandemic, and the CDC is attempting to formulate policy for, you know, the entire primary and secondary education system, LITERALLY dealing with the future of our children.

That would never, EVER be allowed to issue guidelines without the Secretary of HHS (or the equivalent before it existed) and the President all signing off on them and being on the same page. There’d be coordination, an implementation and support plan. Even Dubya would have managed to hit that extremely low bar.

Some of our worst administrations might have cooked the guidelines; demanded that they be adjusted for political rather than public health ends, twisted arms, fired doctors, threatened careers, etc.

But what NONE of them would have done would have been to just… let the CDC issue policy guidelines without input, consultation, or development, and then when they got around to noticing them and deciding they didn’t like them, have the President just fire off the first response that comes into his head about how they’re inadequate. It’s like… if these guidelines aren’t good, how the fuck did they get issued? It means you aren’t paying attention! These aren’t, say, obscure drayage regulations. It’s a pandemic!

The mere fact that Trump is grousing about it on twitter is evidence of a huge, rotting edifice.

To which Unemployed Northeastern replies:

Here’s the secret: Trump doesn’t work. Never has. Never will. Work is for underlings. Yelling and abusive behavior is for bigly man-hand-having men. Trump signing off on CDC guidelines would require such non-boss activities as reading, listening, understanding, and participation. That sh*t is for losers. So it’s a non-starter for Trump.

Trump is notoriously lazy, notoriously stupid, and notoriously arrogant, so in a sense it’s in no way surprising that he doesn’t do the most basic aspects of his job, despite the fact that he happens to hold the most important job in the world (sucks to be us!).

But all this reminds me of something that’s been bugging me ever since Tom Cotton op-ed debacle at the New York Times.

James Bennet — the man then responsible for deciding, ultimately, what does and doesn’t get published on the nation’s most prominent op-ed page — didn’t read Cotton’s little fascistic effusion before the Times ran it!

Think about this: Cotton — a well-known reactionary bomb thrower, and aspiring GOP presidential candidate, was asked by Bennet to share his thoughts on the protests inspired by George Floyd’s murder. Let me repeat that: Bennet solicited Cotton’s piece, even though Cotton’s views turned out to be, predictably, that the violence of the state should be used to crush dissent and restore “law and order,” and, just as predictably, a lot of people thought it was outrageous that Bennet decided to run such a piece.

Bennet then didn’t read what Cotton submitted. Doing so would have taken approximately three minutes of James Bennet’s apparently incalculably valuable time.

All this raises a question that troubles me more and more in these confused and challenging era. To put it as delicately as possible: What exactly do people like Bennet think is their fucking job? And what exactly do these people do all day? (Do not ask this question if you look at the pay scale of the upper administrators at a university and wish to retain your sanity). How is this not like the radiologist just not looking at the film before signing off on the diagnosis? How is this not the partner running the case not even glancing at the brief before signing it? Again, what exactly is your job?

I mean Donald Trump — I get it. He’s a complete joke of human being, and expecting him to do his job is like expecting him to tell a funny joke or display empathy or broad jump the English Channel.

But it’s not just Donald Trump. It’s a lot of people in the highest status positions in our society, who apparently can’t be bothered to do the most basic aspects of their jobs — and then are treated like martyrs by other people in high status positions, because they got fired for failing to do the most basic aspects of their jobs, in a country in which every single goddamned day of the year a single mother gets fired from her minimum wage job for showing up seven minutes late for work because the bus got stuck in traffic.

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