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Why Didn't the Xenophobe in Chief Close the Borders?
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The COVID-19 pandemic was a crisis tailor-made for a xenophobe like Donald Trump. The coronavirus provided an ideal opportunity to turn the president’s biggest liability — the nativist bigotry that went so far as to lock children in cages and then lose hundreds of their parents, which elicited disgust even among some of his supporters — into a strength in early 2020. Trump’s explicable failure to knock this easy pitch out of the ballpark is my biggest explanation for why he lost the election to a singularly lackluster opponent.

My report card for Trump’s handling of COVID-19 after lockdowns began in late March is more nuanced than most people who share my political leanings.

Give the president his due. It’s not like he didn’t do anything. He hired Dr. Anthony Fauci. He didn’t fire him (though he thought about it). Aside from obnoxious tweets and dumb remarks at rallies, Trump mostly got out of the way while public health officials and local and state politicians shut down the economy to try to flatten the curve. That cannot have been an easy decision for an incumbent during an election year. A Columbia University study found that 130,000 fewer Americans (out of 220,000 at the time of the study) would have died had the United States enforced public-health protocols similar to those in other countries; that still means tens of thousands of people would have died no matter what. It’s not true that he eliminated Obama’s pandemic response unit.

But Trump’s clownish messaging was morally inexcusable and politically inexplicable — and it contributed to the deaths of those 130,000-plus people. He equated mask wearing with effeminacy, held mass rallies where social distancing was discouraged and virtually nonexistent, and went months refusing to be seen in public wearing a mask. To the president’s many failures and unforced errors on the coronavirus, I add: slandering the Chinese government, whose cooperation we desperately needed; slashing the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; pulling out of the World Health Organization; failing to ramp up production and distribute masks to American households; allowing supplemental unemployment benefits to expire in the middle of the summer; failing to declare a rent and mortgage holiday; and refusing to pivot to a free health care system for at least COVID-related treatment and ancillary related illnesses.

That’s quite a list. Yet not all of those crimes devolve exclusively to Donald Trump. Much of it is ideologically inherent to America’s system of gangster capitalism. Any whiff of government-supplied health care is vigorously opposed by both the Republican and Democratic parties, and that’s true of President-elect Joe Biden. The U.S. is exceptionally stingy when it’s time to cut checks to get citizens through hard times, no matter which party is in charge.


What baffles me most is how Trump responded to, or did not respond to, the early days of the crisis during the first few months of this year. This was a man who had been elected in large part on a promise to build a big beautiful wall on the southern border and somehow finagle a way to make Mexico pay for it. One of his first major policy moves was to ban people from Muslim countries from visiting the United States. He started a trade war with China. Once it became clear that a deadly virus was spreading across the globe — a disease that originated in China, of all places — why didn’t he close the borders and suspend international air travel? To a T, the novel coronavirus fit his America First narrative that foreigners are dangerous. Why didn’t he respond and message accordingly to a bug that originated with that most bizarre and exotic of foreign creatures, the pangolin?

Trump says he shut the borders early. He dawdled. “Forty-five nations imposed travel restrictions on China before the United States did,” reported The Washington Post. “The earliest of those restrictions went into effect Jan. 24, nine days before the U.S. travel ban went into effect on Feb. 2. The U.S. travel restriction came a month after China first announced its outbreak and at a point when the United States and more than 20 other countries had already reported coronavirus cases.”

Trump’s “ban,” such as it was, was full of holes. It “only prohibited U.S. entry to foreign nationals who had visited China in the last 14 days. Americans and U.S. permanent residents returning from Hubei Province were still allowed, subject to a 14-day quarantine. After these policies were enacted, hundreds of thousands of travelers continued to arrive in the United States via direct flights from China. Until Feb. 27, no other travelers to the United States faced such travel restrictions and quarantine requirements — even if they were arriving from other nations that were reporting coronavirus cases.”

The economic impact of travel restrictions no doubt influenced Trump’s foot dragging when it came to closing the U.S. to arrivals from overseas. Nevertheless, it ranks as one of this year’s great political ironies that the nativist in chief presided over one of the last nations on the planet to protect its borders. On a rare occasion when America needed an isolationist leader, it instead got a globalist.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Coronavirus, Disease, Donald Trump 
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  1. Katrinka says:

    Agent Orange was concerned about muh stawk market.

  2. Anonymous[285] • Disclaimer says:

    A question that his supporters will find hard to answer. The best they can really say is that he did in fact ban travel but didn’t go so far as to suspend it completely because the Democrats would have called him racist and blocked him from doing so… Unfortunately, it would appear that he made a bad gamble despite having advance warning since November of the previous year that there was already a scenario developing which threatened his easy re-election. Poor, foolish Trump, he didn’t see it coming…

    The parallel to numerous other false flags in which Americans are victimized and find themselves needing to attend to foreign wars is the most obvious one. The stage for WWIII is set. Trump was never going to save America from itself.

  3. Sean says:

    To the president’s many failures and unforced errors on the coronavirus, I add: slandering the Chinese government, whose cooperation we desperately needed;

    It sounds like you think China had a way to stop Donald Trump being re-elected, and had he asked nicely Xi would have been happy to …

  4. anon[403] • Disclaimer says:

    Trump is petty thug. He is not a big thug. He doesn’t push back .He buckles and swaggers. The born psychopath is whining and crying and sputtering . His base needs him more than ever .His base is just like him but numbering in millions. They can form a human chain on the southern border, guard the Mexican from entering and also flout the social distancing .

    US has got a supreme court that upholds Muslim ban but thumbs down the restriction and ban on religious gatherings in pandemic zone .

    This moron we call president out of petty anger against Inhoe ( Republican lawmaker) and possibly for some small changes ( few millions at best- for his extended family )recognized Moroccan sovereignty over western Sahara .

    He has failed on every parameter . Covid-19 response was marked by his stupidity and by low IQ. His chess game is cheered by his base. But the base is same -low IQ.

    He is worst than a bigot and a fanatic and his broader financial interest is his religion .

  5. Exurb says:

    I didn’t need to read more than a paragraph to know that the rest of the article is the product of a deranged imagination. TDS.

    But hats off to Unz for providing fair access to its free-speech platform.

  6. No Ted, the question you should be posing is why did Xi shut down Wuhan internally but still allow outgoing international flights from Wuhan airport? But you’re a symp and an apologist for the coms so you won’t go there.


    Trump did close the Mexican border on 3/21 and hasn’t opened it back up. To much wailing from the left about “using Covid” to be a something something fascist something.


    Those health systems that Bolshies like you celebrate — Italy, the UK, Spain — were absolutely blindsided by the virus and performed worse than the capitalist system. At the end of the day, the U.S. response can only be judged relative to other countries that accept similar international traffic.

    • Replies: @anon
  7. TG says:

    Because the rich love cheap labor, and the cheap labor must flow, regardless. “There shall be open borders.”

    Last I heard, third world refugees ‘apprehended’ at the southern border were still being given work permits and food and medical care and DHS passes to let them fly anywhere in the country no questions asked. Is this a significant source of spreading the coronavirus? I don’t know, and you don’t know either, but it seems credible, and you know that nobody in authority will even allow that question to be asked.

    I have no confirmation, but I’ve also heard that the initial spread of the virus in Italy was due to all those third world refugees they use in the garment industry.

    Cheap Labor Uber Alles.

  8. Since I’m not familiar with any of Ted Rall’s posts from the Obama Regime time period I’ll just assume he was just as critical if not more so of our Glorious Leader. Especially when it came to Obama separating children from the parents of undocumented border crossers.

    Other than that Ted is starting to sound like a screeching tom cat in the process of having its manhood snipped in another experiment of trans-genderization. And, all without the benefit of anesthesia.

    Ted, your starting to sound like all those bitter clingers Obama talked about on his way to usurping the US Constitution and corrupting all institutions. Or, maybe better yet you were just the capstone of a long process put in place by your predecessors.

    But, I guess ole Ted is hear to try and convert some non-believers before its tool late and we all wake up in the new dystopic Kamala-Toe Harris regime. Better switch to the enemies side boys while you still have a chance. Cause remember they have lists at the ready as they ramp up all the slave labor re-education camps.

  9. @Exurb

    What I don’t understand is why Ted is trying to concoct a new theory as to how the ‘Rona virus came about through one of the “most bizarre and exotic of foreign creatures, the pangolin”.

    I thought our Chinese talking points from earlier in the year pointed to it being the result of eating bats from the Wuhan wet market.

    Of course, it’s not possible that the CDC had anything to do with it. How soon before the facts that the CDC was providing funding for corona virus Gain Of Function research at the BSL 4 lab in Wuhan is memory holed by the TPTB. Wouldn’t want it to let it slip back out that our own King Fauci is responsible for providing that funding. Of course, there’s no blood on his hands. Hey Fauci, pass GO, collect your $200 and thirty pieces of silver, and do let the door knob hit you in your HIV encrusted ass on the way out the door.

    What Ted has written is more than incoherent drivel. He’s pushed the limits of Trump Derangement Syndrome and broken the barrier to muddled rambling .

    Hell, chicken shit on a pump handle has more use than this putrid pile of puke.

    • Replies: @Greta Handel
  10. anon[364] • Disclaimer says:

    Italy, the UK, Spain — were absolutely blindsided by the virus and performed worse than the capitalist system”
    Yes. Very well done Lets see–Brazil India America Colombia and Mexico Honduras . Hekuva of Job !

    Some of them have public (Soviet ) hospitals like USA has- county hospitals and rarely some public clinics and none has VA system hospitals of Soviet philosophy . How are Canada Australia doing ?Tawain Singapore ?
    UK’s problem was the introduction of American managerial overlordship, cutting off budget, lack of nurses ,and empowering those who cut services .

  11. Anything in 2020 was too late. The borders should have been slammed shut 50 years ago (150 would have been even better) to anyone coming into the US. You can have exemptions for ships at ports, but even there we need 30 day quarantines before we allow any contact.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  12. northeast says:

    The president got into some needless wars with the press day after day during his COVID pressers. He was right…the US press is corrupt & worthless, but I suspect that most Americans had no interest in seeing these battles in the middle of a pandemic. It was not a good look for Trump at an important time.

    Especially early in the crisis when no one knew quite what we were dealing with.

    • Agree: niceland
  13. JasonT says:

    There is no Covid crisis. It is a fraud from beginning to end. Trump knows this. His reactions were to alert the public without setting himself up for assassination.

  14. @Chris Mallory

    The borders should have been slammed shut 50 years ago (150 would have been even better)

    400 would have been even better. At least from places south of the 45th parallel. Or not touching the North Sea.

  15. Thomasina says:

    “…why he lost the election to a singularly lackluster opponent.”

    He didn’t lose the election. The elites rigged the system in favor of Mr. Lackluster. Come on, man, get in the game!

    I don’t have anything against China, but there appear to be many authors AND commenters on this site that are “rah, rah China”. Why is that?

    At the mention of tariffs, the hair goes up on the back of their neck. At the mention of bringing jobs back to the U.S., they balk. At the mention of maintaining borders, they shout “racism”.

    What gives? Are these people on the Chinese payroll, like the Bidens? Maybe getting diddled by a Chinese spy like Swalwell was? Are they being paid to write ridiculous articles by the globalists, the multinational corporations?

    The Covid crisis was manufactured and sloppily orchestrated. The world economy was close to rolling over on its back last winter, so it came in handy for bailing out the over-leveraged elite who, by the way, are now richer than they’ve ever been.

    I have wondered all along whether the Chinese AND the Western elite weren’t all in it together for the above reason. I think they were. Got to keep the globalist game going.

    The globalists were looking at the demise of their globalist dreams, especially with nationalism on the rise, so something had to be done. Plus, it gave them another excuse to blame Trump.

    The Chinese and the Democrats are joined at the hip (along with many Republican elite).

    I am tired of people caring more about foreigners than they do of their own citizens. Must make them feel righteous, better than, or something. Fools.

    • Replies: @Sebastian Max
  16. @My SIMPLE Pseudonymic Handle

    Keep in mind that Mr. Rall vents about a wide range of things of which he knows little.

    The Establishment narrative about a virus erupting naturally in Wuhan and then escaping early this year is useful in blaming Trump for needless deaths while scoring extra “Leftist”points with cliche comments about “xenophobia,” caged kids, etc.

    Yet he wrote this back on June 6:

    Sometimes you have to trust yourself.

    Even when you are mistaken about some details.

    I’m 90% sure that I had COVID-19. It was in [early] November.

    You might think that someone who was as sick as he described would have since dug into the interesting material on this website about the source(s) of the virus(es), including those you’ve suggested. But Mr. Rall doesn’t read much, think hard, reflect on or apparently even recall what he’s written before. The columns are just whatever pops out, things that someone might say after three beers in a freshman dorm.

    Mr. Rall arrived as a columnist at right after the departure of the similarly lightweight Tom Engelhardt. He and the publisher may have already been acquainted, and Mr. Unz apparently wants to maintain ideological balance and some safe entry points (see also, Pat Buchanan) for new readers.

  17. @Thomasina

    I don’t have anything against China, but there appear to be many authors AND commenters on this site that are “rah, rah China”. Why is that?

    If you have nothing against China, then you have not been paying attention.

    -Massive theft of IP and national security secrets
    -mass immigration to the US
    -#1 contributor to the global overpopulation crisis that threatens us all
    -subversion of our society at all levels
    -economic warfare
    -shitty low-quality, often toxic and dangerous products flooded into the US

    You are aware of none of these offenses? These stretch back decades. Nothing new.

    As for the presence of so many China shills, I’d guess that you are seeing an influence operation. Perhaps by China itself, perhaps by people acting on its behalf, or by those who have a financial or personal interest, and perhaps simply by globalists (and done for the purpose of advancing the globalist ideology).

    Or, some confluence of more than one of these factors – this is something we have seen repeatedly exposed, by the elites. Whether they are academics, businesspeople, politicians (or all three). And we now have a President-elect owned by China, whose son has secured for him (10% for the big guy) billions of dollars of corrupt investment pipeline and millions of dollars in hard cash, that has been created by selling influence. No nation has been more obvious and overt in this caper than the PRC.

    So yeah, I’d say there is nothing to NOT hold against China, and let me just state that there is no reason at all for our cultures or nations to have any exchange or intercourse whatsoever. What’s the point? We do not “need” China – but they clearly need us. They have demonstrated that need through decades of conniving, thieving, exploitative actions – and what in the hell has China EVER done for the US? How has the existence of China, or its people, ever benefitted the people of the US?

    Answer that question intelligently and with integrity, with no dissembling, fallacious appeals to tradition, etc, or flowery rhetoric, lofty equivocations, platitudes, or other irrational nonsense, and we can have a serious conversation about the facts of this issue.

    But China is a menace to the world, and the sooner people wake up to that the sooner we can take action that can insulate us from them, and isolate them so that their evil machinations and influences are contained to their own territory.

    • Replies: @Thomasina
  18. Thomasina says:
    @Sebastian Max

    “We do not “need” China – but they clearly need us. They have demonstrated that need through decades of conniving, thieving, exploitative actions – and what in the hell has China EVER done for the US? How has the existence of China, or its people, ever benefitted the people of the US?”

    But don’t forget that it was the U.S. who went to China initially. The U.S. appealed to the greed of the Chinese elite. The two sides then joined hands, the jobs were offshored to China, and both the Chinese AND U.S. elites made a fortune. Part of the deal was U.S. multinationals had to take on a Chinese partner and supply the technology. Another part of the deal, no doubt, was that the Chinese elite be allowed to flood into the West, a kind of escape hatch.

    I know that the Chinese have stolen a lot of intellectual property, but they were also GIVEN a lot of it by the U.S. corporations operating out of China. They just handed it to the Chinese on a silver platter, hard-won Western technology.

    I think people like the Bidens and Clintons are fully aware that China needs the West’s markets in order to keep their citizens employed, so China is allowed these markets as long as they pay up for it. Is this how Joe and Hunter got their money?

    Of course none of this benefits the PEOPLE of the U.S., but the U.S. elite aren’t concerned with the people or the country. They’re in it to make money, and if the country gets destroyed in the process, so be it.

    All this talk about war with China is just that – talk. There’s no way the U.S. elite are going to go to war with China and jeopardize the lucrative arrangement they have. That’s why they cheated in the election in order to put their lapdog Biden into office.

  19. Avianthro says:

    According to this, and it sounds plausible, early border closure was indeed the key to stopping (at least putting it on hold) covid:

    So, yes, we’ll say that Trump’s admin screwed the pooch on that. (Can’t really give much blame to Cap’n Trump, the idiot in chief)

    It seems to me though that those nations like Taiwan who did shut their borders early enough are only putting off the inevitable unless they can keep things tightly closed long enough for a real vaccine to be developed, i.e. one that stops transmission, not the fast-tracked vaccines being injected now. Also, it’s true that they have bought themselves time to make sure they have good prophylactics and treatments + facilities in place while a real vaccine is still a bit farther off.

    Trump did I believe listen to his advisors, as he should have done as a total non-expert in matters beyond real estate and tax swindling, and therein revealed a rare touch of good sense and humility, falling short of total idiocy on that at least.

    Failure then does rest on the shoulders of those advisors.

    Why didn’t Trump then give’em the boot? Could he have found anyone more competent to replace them? Probably not, and not just because he himself is too stupid to determine competency but also just because there may not be any or enough folks more competent than what he has on board now? Also, if he had decided to replace them and the new ones had done no better, as is most likely, then he could have more readily been blamed for their failure…he stayed with Fauci and gang to avoid this perhaps?

    All should be aware too that there’s an ever-growing and credible pile of evidence showing that the covid did not originate in China:

    The investigation goes on as to its origins…It’s not certain yet that it was in pangolins or bats, or maybe even in swine feedlots or biowarfare labs either in China or the US. Note that if it were the latter, there were also most probably have been bats involved as the original sources for studying or modifying the virus as a weapon. So, a common denominator here is that covid, like other viruses or “crowd diseases” did come from non-human animal sources. Wisdom then says that if we want to prevent future diseases like this we’d better be thinking about veganism and about stopping economic growth that pushes us toward increased excursions into wilderness areas…”An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure (vaccine)”.

    As for China’s “role” in the process, we should credit them for this much in the least: They were the ones who identified and gave warning before anyone else did, even though evidence shows the covid was already circulating in countries other than China well before the Chinese id’d it and sounded the warning. Think how much worse the toll could have been if China hadn’t sounded the warning when they did. They proved themselves to be better technocrats than the West on that and on their response.

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