The Corner

Impromptus

Masks and More

In Saitama Prefecture, Japan, March 6, 2020 (Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters)

In my Impromptus yesterday, I linked to an article in the Washington Post headed “U.S. intelligence reports from January and February warned about a likely pandemic.” The article begins,

U.S. intelligence agencies were issuing ominous, classified warnings in January and February about the global danger posed by the coronavirus while President Trump and lawmakers played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen . . .

I commented that the article “makes for maddening reading.” I further said, “No sense crying over spilt milk. Where do we go from here? But still . . .”

A reader writes,

I am retired from CIA, but my wife still works there and, professional that she is, tells me next to nothing about what’s going on. In late January, she had me order some N95 masks. I didn’t see the need but did so anyway. Now I see why. (We haven’t received the masks and probably will never see them.)

All over the country, people are making masks — pitching in. An opera-loving doctor in Atlanta sent me this article: “The Atlanta Opera to craft medical masks for area hospitals.” The article says,

The Atlanta Opera has a fully equipped costume and wardrobe department ready to adapt during the current crisis. All Costume Shop employees will dedicate their working hours to the effort, as work on upcoming productions has ceased.

That’s the spirit.

I have one more thing to say about masks — one more comment from a reader, really — but first must excerpt an item from yesterday’s Impromptus:

Here was some more news: “The FDA has temporarily relaxed certain policy guidelines that could allow manufacturers to produce more ventilators.” (Consult Axios.) Commentary’s Noah Rothman responded, “Man, libertarians are really taking it on the chin these days.” He was being ironic.

My feeling is this: The unleashing of American creativity — and human creativity — could be a big, big help in this crisis. Central planning can’t do everything. A strong central government can’t do everything (desirable as it may be in a crisis such as ours). We need the innovators, the go-getters, the outside-the-boxers — the glorious weirdos.

You know what I mean, I trust. Let a thousand Elon Musks bloom!

Okay, our reader:

Your inspired line about Elon Musk got me thinking: Why doesn’t he turn his talents to the making of . . . Elon Masks? I wouldn’t mind if he put a Tesla or SpaceX logo on every one.

One reader wrote in about an item on Donald Trump and Mitt Romney — this one here:

At the White House press conference on Sunday, a reporter said, “Senator Paul has tested positive.” He went on to say that, besides Paul, “four senators are in isolation.” President Trump asked him, “Who are they?” The answer was Romney, Lee, Gardner, and Scott.

As the reporter tried to continue, Trump said, “Romney is in isolation?” When the reporter said yes, the president said, sarcastically, “Gee, that’s too bad.”

Later, Jake Tapper of CNN tweeted, “The disease can be fatal, especially for those 60 and above and/or with pre-existing conditions. Romney is 73 and his wife, 70, has MS.”

I think that Trump fans and Romney fans can agree on one thing, if nothing else: The two men are nothing alike. They are as far apart as Mercury and Pluto.

Our reader was cross with me for assuming that Trump was being sarcastic. Because Trump had denied his sarcasm. Yet the video makes things perfectly clear — and the “Gee” was a big tip-off: “Gee, that’s too bad.”

In case there was any confusion, Trump should have cleared it up with a tweet yesterday. He circulated a Breitbart article headed “Mitt Romney Tests Negative for Coronavirus.” Our president commented, “This is really great news! I am so happy I can barely speak. He may have been a terrible presidential candidate and an even worse U.S. Senator, but he is a RINO, and I like him a lot!”

As I said, we can all agree, Donald Trump and Mitt Romney are nothing alike — they are indeed as far apart as Mercury and Pluto.

A reader wrote, “Thank you for comparing Trump and Romney to Mercury and Pluto, not Mercury and Neptune!” (As you recall, there is a debate over whether Pluto is actually a planet. I have no horse, alas, in any astronomical debate.)

Finally, we published yesterday a photo over a Corner post of mine — a photo showing Hosni Mubarak at a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the 1973 war. Our Kevin Williamson remarked, “You can tell Egypt is a half-assed country by the fact that its caudillo rode around in a Jeep Wagoneer.” But another reader focused on the wheels, saying, “Sweet rims!”

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