Temporarily consigned to their homes, liberal commentators and politicians have fallen back on a favorite time-wasting activity: America bashing.
Rachel Maddow eagerly tracks America's lead in infections. The Center for American Progress blithely accepts the claims of dictatorships in order to diss the president. When the United States acknowledged more COVID-19 cases than any other country, Hillary Clinton remarked with barely restrained glee, "He did promise ‘America First.'" Or, as one journalist put it: "Who's the shithole country now?"
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These people and others are excited to use the coronavirus as a cudgel against President Donald Trump. Democratic groups have dropped $20 million on campaign ads to do so already.
To be fair, the Trump administration was slow to respond. Bureaucratic sclerosis at the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set testing back by weeks, and the president's early statements downplaying the disease were irresponsible at best.
But the excitement that greets each dire chart from the Financial Times shows that for many on the left, the virus confirms what they always believed: that the only way America is exceptional is in its incompetence and viciousness. To that crowing monologue from The Newsroom about how America leads the world only in incarceration, belief in angels, and military spending, liberals can now add: "And coronavirus cases!"
Forget that the United States is about the same size as Europe, meaning country-scale comparisons are meaningless. Forget also that China and Iran are almost certainly lying about their tallies—lies the media often repeat unquestioningly. The problem with the new liberal view, we believe, is that it disregards the distinctly American resolve that now fuels our response, and that has always made America exceptional.
On the eve of World War II, the United States was ill-prepared, with an army smaller than Portugal's. Then too we were slow to respond, and France fell before we stepped up. But after Pearl Harbor, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto wrote in his diary, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." He was right: Twelve million men enlisted, factories churned out over 300,000 aircraft, and in a few short years America built the mightiest military in the history of the world.
Today, we are facing a different enemy, but all signs point to a similar awakening.
We once built planes; now we make tests. In just a month, America has gone from a few thousand tested to over 2.2 million. We are on pace to do a million more every week. Germany is testing about a third as many people; South Korea, 10 times fewer. The United States is larger, and so has further to go, but the growth of its testing regime is breathtaking.
American ingenuity, meanwhile, lifts the world on its shoulders. The most promising antiviral treatment, remdesivir, is made by Gilead Sciences, the American firm whose groundbreaking HIV and Hepatitis C treatments already help millions. Vaccines, too, are American-made, with half of the 78 in development being produced in North American laboratories. When a vaccine comes, America will be ready to churn it out. Thank Bill Gates and his seven vaccine factories.
The military is fighting this war, too, though you might not know it. The China-friendly media cooed when the People's Liberation Army built a 1,000-bed hospital in Wuhan in 10 days—something our democracy could never manage, they claimed. When the Army Corps of Engineers assembled a 2,000-bed hospital in New York's Jacob Javits Center in the same amount of time, it was either taken as a sign of tremendous failure or went totally unremarked.
In short, the coronavirus has prompted an all-of-America response. Instead of planting victory gardens, families are sewing surgical masks. Distilleries bottle hand sanitizer, pillow makers churn out masks, and 3D printers pour out face shields. Even hurting businesses are stepping up, like the Massachusetts restaurateur who is now providing free meals to local nursing homes.
Some would prefer to say that the coronavirus crisis has shown America at its worst. We should be more like China, they argue, welding sick people into their own homes. Despite the long road ahead, however, we think the coronavirus reveals America at its best: bloody but unbowed, facing this fearsome new enemy with overwhelming might.