Littwin: Polis would trade Trump a cool mask for ventilators, but Trump wouldn’t wear it

Gov. Jared Polis shows off his new face mask on April 3, 2020. He is encouraging Coloradans to wear masks when out going grocery shopping or on other essential business. (Screenshot from @jaredpolis)
Gov. Jared Polis shows off his new face mask on April 3, 2020. He is encouraging Coloradans to wear masks when out going grocery shopping or on other essential business. (Screenshot from @jaredpolis)

On a normal day, in normal times, I’d be writing about our governor’s press briefing Friday and his demonstration of how to make your own anti-coronavirus mask, along with his forever-to-be-mocked suggestion that “Let’s make it cool. Show everyone what you’re going to be clever and cool about wearing masks.”

I would then, um, borrow my friend Alex Burness’s tweeted line that we’re now being asked to take fashion advice from “one of America’s least fashionable public officials.” And then I’d note that I, of course, am almost certainly Colorado’s least fashionable journalist and the last person to criticize anyone’s fashion choices.

You can see where I’d be headed. The column writes itself. Later in the day, Donald Trump would reveal that the CDC has recommended that everyone wear masks in public. And in introducing that new recommendation, Trump would immediately say that, yeah, maybe, it’s just a recommendation, but it’s not for him.

Of course, it’s not for him. And he might as well have said that we should all just ignore the experts once again.

Actually, he basically did say that: “You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it. It’s only a recommendation.”

But this is not a normal day, of course, or a normal time or a normal anything. So instead, I’ll go to Cory Gardner, who did the abnormal thing — for him, anyway — of criticizing the Trump administration’s mishandling of the ventilator crisis.

My first thought was to resist making too much of it. I mean, it was a pretty obvious call. We’re running dangerously low on ventilators — not to mention hospital masks and other protective gear — in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, only to learn that thousands of ventilators in the Strategic National Stockpile (who came up with that name?) were actually broken. 

But then I thought, what the hell. Let’s do go there.

So, Gardner wrote a letter to the Health and Human Services inspector general Thursday asking him to investigate the maintenance issues and the problems of providing ventilators to the states. He told Politico that “any kind of mismanagement or abuse needs to be rooted out and those responsible held accountable.”

What made it interesting is that on the same day — although Gardner said he had written his letter earlier — Jared Kushner, the Son in Law in Chief, made his debut at the daily coronavirus press briefing/Trump rally in order to admonish all those whiny governors and desperate hospital workers begging for help from the federal government that “the notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”

The obvious question is who exactly is the “our” in “our” stockpile. I’m pretty sure the “our” is like, you know, all of us.

In fact, all you had to do was to look at the HHS web site, which stated that the stockpile was created for states to use in times of emergency — like, say, this one. Well, actually, you had to look pretty quickly, because by Friday morning, the web site had been changed to say the stockpile’s role was to “supplement” state and local supplies. If only someone had thought of that during Katrina.

When Politico asked Gardner about Kushner’s statement, he replied, “I don’t know what Kushner was talking about, what he meant. But the stockpile is for the country. And the country is made up of states in the federal government.”

You’d like to think that this was Gardner showing, at last, some real separation from Trump — or, to put it another way, a sign of rats jumping off the sinking ship. I doubt that. I’m not even sure the ship is sinking. But it shows the tightrope that Gardner is walking. Inside Elections just moved the Colorado Senate race to from toss-up to “Tilt Democratic.”

Trump got a slight polling bump as the pandemic grew worse, but my guess is that the bump will disappear over time, as the pandemic grows worse and the economy continues to falter. If you look closely into this issue, Trump was warned of the need for more ventilators and masks in late January. Some senators met with him in early February when, according to Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), everything was under control.

Ah, those were the days when you could pretend everything was OK and the market wasn’t cratering and millions weren’t out of work and the acting Secretary of the Navy didn’t just dismiss an aircraft carrier commander for going public with his demand for more help as coronavirus sweeps through his ship. Hundreds of sailors cheered Capt. Brett E. Crozier as he left the ship.

But in these days, we have Kushner now apparently in charge of handling the supply chain of medical needs during the crisis, which, according to Trump and assorted sycophants, is now being laid at the feet of governors and mayors who weren’t sufficiently prepared. Or so the story goes. As Trump put it, the federal government is just the “backup” team and the governors were never satisfied.

Kushner would add that many governors are bad managers, adding: “What a lot of the voters are seeing now is that when you elect somebody … you’re trying think about who will be a competent manager during the time of crisis.”

I swear he said it. Here’s the clip. He’s standing next to Trump. You’d almost laugh if it weren’t so tragic. As I may have said before, the Trump years have put an end to irony, but this is proof.

It was Kushner, who has no expertise in medical supply chains or in Mideast policy or whatever he’s supposed to be in charge of, who told “Dad” that Andrew Cuomo didn’t need all those ventilators he was asking for.

Trump was clearly annoyed Friday in having to defend Kushner’s indefensible statement. He went to his A material, saying a reporter’s question (a female reporter, of course) had a “nasty tone.” And he said this about New York’s desperate situation: “They should have had more ventilators….we have a lot of states that have to be taken care of.”

It wasn’t the only time it got heated. It may be too late for Trump to happy talk his way out of this crisis, but he keeps trying. As he said Friday in yet another round of self-congratulation, “We have done a job like no one has never done a job.”

That’s only a recommendation. You don’t have to agree.


  1. Thanks Mike. “Bizarre” isn’t even adequate anymore.

    Cherryl (Chateau Liquors back in the day).

    PS. Like you, my husband passed nearly 1 year ago.

  2. Thanks for focusing attention on Gardners’ odd letter.

    If the ventilators are broken, the masks out of date, and other PPE materials are insufficient, shouldn’t that have been noticed in January? And should we worry about other items in the stockpile (which I never heard of before) being minimal, inadequate for a significant incident, and possibly not effective?

  3. Mike don’t sell yourself short, you’re a tremendous slouch. The hipsters are paying big bucks for your white New Balance kicks.

    Bubbles is officially underwater as several polls show him in negative territory in response to the pandemic.

    It’s sad irony that it is the budget slashing Obama era Tea Party obstructionists who are now counting the chickens roosting in the white house.

    After asking to fund the restocking of the very things we’re now short on, the Republicans told him to pound sand. Obama has too much class to say I told you so…me not so much.

    This is yet another example that you can really only count on the federal government to do the right things when Dems are in the WH….and even then it’s obviously a tough sell to the conservative extremists in Congress.

    Unfortunately many Conservatives have been convinced to believe that only they have the right to govern (without majority consent laughably), and thus the unprecedented Republican obstruction of government when they aren’t in charge is fully justified in their eyes. Adversarial politics at work. Been that way for decades.

    Unfortunately, this behavior isn’t good for the American people.

    I’d say that those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it, but then the majority of us didn’t forget, did we? The majority of voters learned the lessons during the Conservative Incompetency during the Bush years.

    Yet here we are…all on the Uber ride from hell, only most of us didn’t want to get in.

    Thanks so much.

  4. “The evidence of China’s deliberate cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan is a matter of public record. In suppressing information about the virus, doing little to contain it, and allowing it to spread unchecked in the crucial early days and weeks, the regime imperiled not only its own country and its own citizens but also the more than 100 nations now facing their own potentially devastating outbreaks. More perniciously, the Chinese government censored and detained those brave doctors and whistleblowers who attempted to sound the alarm and warn their fellow citizens when they understood the gravity of what was to come.”

    “Some American commentators and Democratic politicians are aghast at Donald Trump and Republicans for referring to the pandemic as the “Wuhan virus” and repeatedly pointing to China as the source of the pandemic. In naming the disease COVID-19, the World Health Organization specifically avoided mentioning Wuhan. Yet in de-emphasizing where the epidemic began (something China has been aggressively pushing for), we run the risk of obscuring Beijing’s role in letting the disease spread beyond its borders.”
    The Atlantic


    It was Christmas 2013, there was peace on earth and good will toward men but Mr. Littwin wasn’t feeling it. Any of it.

    Chicago had just lost its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics despite the efforts of Barack Obama and—-at least according to Mr. Littwin—-“there were those who literally cheered….Americans rooting against America because Obama was the president.”

    Now, over six years later, there are still Americans rooting against America because of who the president is and if you tilt your head to the left you can hear the cheering. Those who root for the pandemic or who take joy in a faltering economy or who gleefully point to a collapsing stock market or a rising unemployment rate. But Mr. Littwin doesn’t seem to hear those voices. Is it a hearing problem or is it something else?

    Once again Mr. Littwin’s parochial view of the coronavirus pandemic has allowed him to avoid mentioning those things he can’t hold President Trump responsible for like the worldwide death toll caused by the COVID-19 (Wuhan) virus: 78,000 and rising. And, of course, deliberately ignoring the pandemic’s origin: China.

    These are not accidental oversights, they are intentional distortions designed to create a faux narrative by eliminating China entirely from the COVID-19 discussion and blaming the whole global pandemic—-from Wuhan to the world—-on our president and in the process maybe benefiting Joe Biden in November. Challenging? Yes, but for Mr. Littwin doable.

    Mr. Littwin concedes that in January many of those with insight into the situation in China were quite concerned where the virus would lead.

    Evidently neither New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio nor New York’s Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot were among those insightful few. As reported by de Blasio was not especially worried about coronavirus. “I’m encouraging New Yorkers to go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus,” he tweeted on March 2. There was an Italian film playing at Lincoln Center. He urged people to see it.”

    “On February 7th, Commissioner Barbot offered New Yorkers the same bad advice, telling NY1: “The important thing for New Yorkers to know is that in the city currently their risk is low and our city preparedness is high. And so we know that this virus can be transmitted from one individual to another, but that it’s typically people who live together. That there’s no risk at this point in time — we’re always learning more — about having it be transmitted in casual contact, right?” reports, “As of Monday, the coronavirus had killed 4,758 people in New York state, most of them in (New York) city.” Yet, amazingly, Mr. Littwin apparently doesn’t hold Mayor de Blasio culpable, at least in part, for any of those 4,758 deaths. Where’s the anger? Where’s the outrage? Oh, that’s right, de Blasio’s a Democrat.

    Commissioner Barbot said “attending the Chinese Lunar New Year parade in Chinatown, were not just responsible behaviors, but would additionally help defeat anti-Asian prejudices.” 

    But Barbot reached a brand new level of woke-ness and introduced a whole new twist on the ever evolving use of the race card when she suggested on Twitter “it would be racist not to attend the Chinatown parade.”

    Of course, that does provide a easy way to determine how many New Yorkers are racists.


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    Tina Griego, managing editor Colorado Independent

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    Holly Armstrong, board chair Colorado Independent

    “Thank you for your readership and encouragement. Please take good care of yourselves and each other.” 
    Susan Greene, Editor and executive director

  5. Don, I’m not sure you’re making the case you think you are by pointing out that we’ve gone from Truman’s “the buck stops here” to Trump’s “not my problem”.

  6. “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!”
    –Baby Huey, January 24, 2020.

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