The saga of “Smart,” “Dumb,” “Dumber” and “Dumbest”


As federal and state leadership work on plans to combat the coronavirus pandemic, a “hierarchal” trend is clearly developing


California Governor Gavin Newsom’s “Roadmap”

California Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday laid out a “roadmap to recovery” with six factors that he said must be met before restrictions on going to school, doing business and gathering in public can be lifted. They include starting widespread testing that would allow the state to isolate people exposed to the virus and trace people with whom they have come in contact.

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Newsom warned that even when the lockdown measures are modified, life will be “anything but” normal. People might need to wear face coverings in public for months, he said, and mass gatherings could be canceled for the foreseeable future, until the state reaches “herd immunity” — the point at which enough people have been exposed to the virus to prevent its transmission — and scientists develop a vaccine.


South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem

CNN reported that South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem is facing increased scrutiny over her refusal to issue a stay-at-home order as a coronavirus outbreat at a major pork processing plant in her state raises new concerns about the nation’s food supply.

Noem is one of seven governors — all Republicans — who so far have not issued statewide stay-at-home orders. “South Dakota is not New York City,” she said in early April. Her denial comes as fellow Republican officials in her state, including Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender, call on the governor to take more sweeping action.

Instead, Noem has touted her state’s role in evaluating hydroxychloroquine — an antimalarial drug that is unproven to treat coronavirus and might not be safe or effective. President Donald Trump, citing anecdotes of those who have taken it seeing their condition improve, last week said “it could be a game-changer.”

Noem said Monday that South Dakota is working with Sanford Health to conduct the nation’s first statewide hydroxychloroquine trial.

“We’re going on offense to help every single person deal with this virus and be willing to fight it and get better and go home to their families,” Noem said.


Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper

According to CNN, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is one of seven governors — all Republicans (yes, I know I said that already…but it does bear repeating) — who have yet to issue a stay-at-home order to his citizens as a way to limit the spread of coronavirus nationwide.”We want to take the long-term approach to this and you’re not going to win simply by a lockdown,” Hutchinson explained to CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, adding: “There’s a lot of hope and optimism this Easter that our tough time is behind and we’re going to be getting better.”

Now, you might say that relying on “hope and optimism” might qualify for “Dumbest,” but…


President Donald John Trump

The Washington Post reported today that President Trump said during Tuesday night’s briefing that “plans to reopen the country are close to being finalized,” but he has not committed to following these or other recommendations. Others involved in the administration’s response are apparently drafting their own plans, part of the patchwork of groups and task forces tackling what’s undeniably the biggest challenge facing the country right now*.

*Editor’s note: I guess this is OK to say since the President has said we’re fighting the “Chinese virus,” but is this what a “Chinese fire-drill” looks like?

In any event, whatever is finally decided, or decided and then taken back, or not decided at all, it will be “powerful, the most powerful plan ever planned.”

“The day will be very close because certain states as you know are in a much different condition and are in a much different place than other states. It’s going to be very very close. Maybe even before the date of May 1st,” Trump said.

As he left the briefing in the Rose Garden, Trump said that if the governors “don’t do a good job, we’re going to come down on them very hard.”

Expanding on his statement about governors, particularly Democratic ones, Trump tweeted:

“Tell the Democrat Governors that “Mutiny On The Bounty” was one of my all time favorite movies. A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!”

At about the same time Trump was discussing his “very powerful reopening plan,” The Washington Post obtained an internal draft of a national strategy to reopen the country in stages. The plan, developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes that even a cautious and phased approach “will entail a significant risk of resurgence of the virus.” 

The internal document, echoing Governor Newsom’s “smart” approach, warns of a “large rebound curve” of novel coronavirus cases if mitigation efforts are relaxed too quickly before vaccines are developed and distributed or broad community immunity is achieved.

Despite all this, and in keeping with Trump’s “dumbest” instincts, his impatience to open the economy is being fueled by a handful of powerful conservative advocacy groups uniting to push the president to reopen the economy, despite months of warnings from top public health experts that people need to continue to stay home to combat the coronavirus, according to The Post.

Their mission is to lobby the White House and Republican lawmakers to push back against the restrictions recommended by health experts who have warned about the need for mitigation efforts. Some of these lobbying efforts have already begun.

On Tuesday, the White House unveiled a new “Opening Our Country Council,” a list of 100 businesspeople who could advise the president on how to guide the economy through the coronavirus crisis. It is not known how Trump will balance the conflicting views of his business council and his medical and scientific advisors. But, in keeping with his new persona as “King Donald,” perhaps a jousting tournament is in order.

“Smart,” “Dumb,” “Dumber” and “Dumbest”…God Bless America, the country that has it all, from sea to shining sea!

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

2 thoughts on “The saga of “Smart,” “Dumb,” “Dumber” and “Dumbest”

  1. I usually refrain from commenting on my own posts, but tonight I couldn’t help myself after I heard Donald Trump once again say something that solidifies his position as not dumb, not dumber, but dumbest.

    At the daily Coronavirus Task Force campaign rally, and following a rousing presentation from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue (can you really make up a better name for the Ag secretary than “Sonny Perdue?) on the robustness of our “food chain” (Perdue did not get into the millions of dollars worth of crops that are being trashed because there’s no market for those crops with the collapse of the restaurant/food service business…but I digress), the President of the United States said,

    “China has paid us billions of dollars, many, many billions of dollars in tariffs which we’ve distributed some to the farmers because they were targeted. We have many billions of dollars being held by Sonny and I’ve told him to distribute much of that money to the farmers…We have a lot of money that we’ve taken in from China and we’re going to be distributing that money to the farmers and there’s plenty of money over and above that was paid directly into the Treasury of the United States. This has never happened to China before; they never gave us 10 cents. Now they’re paying us billions of dollars and we appreciate it.”

    OK, I thought maybe he learned when he talked about the tariffs last year that that’s not how tariffs work. China’s government and companies in China do not pay U.S. tariffs directly. Tariffs are a tax on imported products and are paid by U.S.-registered firms to U.S. customs when goods enter the United States.

    Importers often pass the costs of tariffs on to customers – manufacturers and consumers in the United States – by raising their prices. U.S. business executives and economists say U.S. consumers foot much of the tariff bill.

    Peter Navarro? Larry Kudlow? Steve Mnuchin? Ben Stein? Anyone want to help? Anyone? Anyone?

    Or is it that you guys are giving me a break. You know, as well as I do that Donald Trump is the dumbest of the dumb and because Around the Block said it, you’re off the hook and don’t have to.

    Whatever. I rest my case.


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