2020年3月6日 星期五

Let’s trace the hits and check the file

Let’s see who bit to detect the style.
Nancy Pelosi speaking with reporters after signing a bill authorizing aid to combat the coronavirus.T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times
Author Headshot

By Jamelle Bouie

Opinion Columnist

When an outbreak of the Ebola virus struck West Africa in the summer and fall of 2014 — killing thousands of people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — the Obama administration took action. It coordinated a comprehensive global response, sending personnel and resources to affected regions. It pushed Congress to appropriate more than $5 billion in emergency funding to assist international efforts against the disease. USAID established treatment units and care facilities, the State Department helped countries “prevent, prepare for and respond” to Ebola, and the Centers for Disease Control trained medical workers and educated the public about the virus.

It was a full-court press to stop the disease from spreading and it was effective. By the following year, new cases had dropped significantly. By 2016, the World Health Organization had declared West Africa “Ebola-free.”

Despite the success of the response, however, the Ebola outbreak was still a bruising political experience for President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. It was an election year, and Republicans played demagogic games with the Ebola outbreak, fanning fears of large-scale infection in the United States. Donald Trump, then just a private citizen, demanded a ban on travel from West Africa. “The U.S. must immediately stop all flights from EBOLA infected countries or the plague will start and spread inside our ‘borders.’ Act fast!” he said on Twitter. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas echoed the call, saying it was “common sense” to impose a ban on commercial travel from those countries. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, then running for the Senate and up for re-election this year, warned in a debate that “bad actors” from Mexico would bring the virus to the United States if the government didn’t “seal the border.” And in the House of Representatives, Republican lawmakers used their oversight authority to hold hearings and force the administration to account for its Ebola response.


You could call this “playing politics.” And it was. But it worked. That November, fear of disease — fanned by Republican politicians and conservative media personalities — helped the Republican Party win a majority in the Senate, giving it full control of Congress.

I mention all of this because it provides a stark contrast to how the Democratic Party has approached the coronavirus outbreak. Right now, the White House is slow-walking the response and downplaying the scope of the problem to secure the president’s political standing in an election year. In official statements and on national news channels, President Trump has told Americans that there’s nothing to worry about, contradicting experts in his administration. He has condemned estimates of the virus’s lethality as a “hoax,” and his allies have attacked the C.D.C. as part of the “deep state” threatening Trump’s power.

Democrats could use their House majority to hold regular news conferences bolstering expert opinion; they could critique and criticize the president on television and other media outlets; they could use their oversight power to make the administration answer for its conduct. In the wake of President Trump’s acquittal on charges of obstruction and contempt of Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats would focus on health care for the rest of the year. Here, in Trump’s dangerous response to coronavirus, is a crisis tailor-made for that strategy.

But the party and its leaders are silent, and they are squandering a chance to draw a powerful contrast with the president. There are no referees in politics — Democrats won’t get points for not “politicizing” the situation. What they will do is sacrifice an opportunity, in the middle of an election year, to show Americans just how unfit Trump is for office.


Now Reading

Jaime Fuller on campaign biographies in Literary Hub.

Malick Ghachem on U.S. imperial power in Boston Review.

Yanzhong Huang on coronavirus conspiracy theories in Foreign Affairs.

Vinson Cunningham on test-prep programs for The New Yorker magazine.

Eric Levitz on how coronavirus exposes the shoddiness of our social safety net, in New York magazine.



If you’re enjoying what you’re reading, please consider recommending it to friends. They can sign up here. If you want to share your thoughts on an item in this week’s newsletter or on the newsletter in general, please email me at jamelle-newsletter@nytimes.com.

Photo of the Week

The underside of a freeway in Portland, Ore.Jamelle Bouie

I was in Portland, Ore., last weekend and spent an afternoon walking around downtown. There are a lot of bridges in Portland, and a freeway cuts right through the city. I thought the light hit this particular pillar in a way that made a compelling image, with deep shadows and stark geometry. I took the photo on my digital Leica range finder and edited it on my iPad.

Now Eating: Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Spinach and Red Lentil ‘Burgers’

I have about two pounds of quinoa I have been trying to get through, and this recipe has been an incredibly tasty way of doing that. I originally made them to have for lunch, but lately I have been eating them for breakfast, served with a fried egg and a cup of chai. It’s a lovely (and nutritious) way to start a day. Recipe comes from The New York Times’s Cooking section.


  • ⅓ cup quinoa (blond or black), rinsed
  • ⅓ cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1⅔ cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1½ pounds sweet potatoes, baked
  • 3 cups, tightly packed, chopped fresh spinach
  • 3 ounces feta, crumbled (about ¾ cup)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • ¼ cup minced chives
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • ¼ cup olive oil


Combine quinoa, red lentils, water and salt to taste (I used a rounded ½ teaspoon) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until quinoa is tender and blond quinoa displays a thread, and lentils are just tender. Drain off any water remaining in the pot through a strainer, tapping the strainer against the sink to remove excess water, then return quinoa and lentils to the pot. Cover pot with a towel, then return the lid and let sit undisturbed for 15 minutes.

Skin sweet potatoes and place in a large bowl. Mash with a fork. Add spinach and mash together (I use my hands). Add quinoa and lentils, feta, mint, chives, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together well. Mixture will be moist. Add chickpea flour and combine, by hand or with a wooden spoon.

Refrigerate uncovered for 1 hour or longer (the longer the better).

When you’re ready to cook, place a rack over a sheet pan. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch, heavy, nonstick frying pan over high heat. Swirl the pan to coat with the hot oil. Lower heat to medium. Take about ⅓ cup of the mixture and shape into a patty. Place 4 to 5 patties in the pan (do not crowd), and cook until well browned on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn and brown for about 4 more minutes. Remove to rack. Heat remaining oil in the pan and cook remaining patties. Keep patties warm in a low oven until ready to serve.

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