Home/Daniel Larison/‘Every Lie We Tell Incurs a Debt to the Truth’

‘Every Lie We Tell Incurs a Debt to the Truth’

Vice President Mike Spence, speaking at the Southern Baptist Convention (Fox4 News DFW screen grab)

The government response to the coronavirus has been so lacking in part because they still don’t have enough tests available, so there is no way to tell how many people have already been infected. A related reason is that the CDC keeps refusing to approve testing for people who have potentially been exposed to the virus, and that even includes medical professionals that become sick. A quarantined nurse in northern California has written about her experience with this:

Jeremy Konyndyk comments on the nurse’s letter:

I said earlier this week that the government has been flying blind in its response to the outbreak, and this is one of the consequences of that. Incredibly, the HHS Secretary said just this week that there are only a little over 100 cases in the country, but this low number is a function of the woefully inadequate testing that has been done. Azar’s statement needs to be read in full to appreciate how ludicrous it was:

Remember, we only have over 100 cases so far in the United States. We are not South Korea. South Korea may be doing tens of thousands of tests because South Korea is in a very different epidemiological position. It is more like China’s situation than like the United States or Canada’s situation.

The president has been determined to minimize the seriousness of the outbreak, and his officials are falling in line behind his reckless lead. Azar’s statement shows how dishonest the Trump administration is being in its response. Trump wants to make it seem as if the virus has been contained, so his officials cite the smallest number possible to placate him. South Korea is conducting so many tests in order to discover how bad the outbreak there is. The U.S. is lagging far behind them, and top U.S. officials take this unacceptable tardiness and dereliction as proof that the outbreak isn’t that big of a problem. Here is Konyndyk again from yesterday:

The top officials that the president has put in charge of the coronavirus response are lying to the public about the severity of the problem to cover up for their own failures and to cater to the moods of the president. There is a quote from the miniseries Chernobyl that seems appropriate to cite here: “When the truth offends, we lie and lie until we can no longer remember that it is even there, but it is still there. Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is paid.” The debt incurred by the Trump administration’s lies and evasions about this health crisis will likely be paid by many of the most vulnerable and elderly Americans.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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