A lot has been said about President Trump’s reluctance to concede the election. It’s certainly dominated my posts over the last couple of weeks and it has dominated the news cycle. However, it is fair to ask what it matters at this point. Even many Trump insiders admit there is no real path to 270 electoral votes for him even if all of his legal challenges were upheld. Currently, he is batting 1 for 25 in court There is no sport where a four percent success rate would get you anywhere.
So, why does it matter? Joe Biden is going to be the president on January 20th. There is nothing Trump can legally do to stop that and in order to stop it illegally he would need the support for the armed forces. Based on exit polls I don’t think he’s getting that either. So again, what is the real cost here?
Moderna and Pfizer are both reporting that they have vaccines ready that are more than 90 percent effective. However, as most people know, it is a far cry to go from one effective vaccine (or two) to over 300 million doses in the United States alone. The Pfizer vaccine is a partnership with Germany and that brings with it even more challenges.
In other words, even if we assume the vaccine is good enough as it stands, it will take months to ramp up the production enough to distribute it to the general public. What’s the plan? Ah, now therein lies the rub. In every single other instance in United States history, the outgoing administration would coordinate with the incoming administration or they would allow them direct access to the agencies that would be in charge of said distribution.
Heather Cox Richardson writes a nice little daily blog that’s more popular than mine, but is fairly similar in tone. She is reporting that Iran has a lot more enriched uranium than it would have had had we not dropped out of the Iran deal. Normally, an outgoing administration wouldn’t act without consulting the incoming administration. At least they wouldn’t make any major strategic shifts unless they absolutely had to. Yet. Trump is considering military conflict.
Normally, we would have an apparatus in place to combat that. You would have the defense secretary, people in the national security agency, and the Pentagon that would push back and resist any such action. Unfortunately, many of those folks have either resigned or were fired by Trump. He inserted loyalists in their place. Since there is only two months left he can call them “acting” and bypass the confirmation crisis.
He made the changes in the defense department and Pentagon primarily so he could pull most of our troops out of Afghanistan. His plan is to leave a minimal force of 2500 in the country. The people he fired and other experts believe this will effectively give the country and region back to the Taliban. Of course, once you pull them out it is a lot harder to safely bring any troops back. You also saddle the next president with the label of someone that sent in more troops.
This is the big stuff. The small stuff is that the incoming administration usually has an operating budget and facilities to work out of. They get to participate in the daily briefs. These three key things have also been kept from Biden. Fortunately, he didn’t get caught off guard. He managed to rat hole enough money to work around it. Harris is still on the Foreign Relations committee in the Senate. So, they have money and some information to work with.
Still, when you add it all up it will add up to thousands of U.S. lives. The current administration has shown no interest in coordinating anything as it pertains to the virus. A failure in coordination could push back the rollout of the vaccine by a month or two. If we assume 1500 deaths per day that would be 45,000 if the delay is one month and 90,000 if it is two.
This doesn’t mention the safety of the 2500 troops that could be left behind in Afghanistan or the lives of would be servicemen and women involved in a potential action in Iran. All of this would ostensibly be done to put the Biden administration behind the eight ball to make them look bad. These are real American lives we are talking about here.
So, if someone tries to tell you that this is all political theatre and the musings of the president don’t matter at this point, please keep this in mind. Keep in mind what Congressional Republicans are doing and saying as well. Keep the various talking heads in mind. Anyone pushing ahead the idea that the election is in doubt and that the administration shouldn’t work with the incoming administration will have blood on their hands. Don’t let them forget it.