I suppose there are worse choices than Mike Pence for heading up the government’s effort to minimize and contain the spread of coronavirus, I just can’t think who that worse choice might be. Pence is an anti-science, superstitious, ignoramus, global warming denialist who believes that some four thousand or so years ago a male and female penguin walked from the south pole to the Middle East to board Noah’s ark. He also thinks that because evolution is a “theory” there is something wrong with it, and therefore the theory of Intelligent Design is every inch as valid and worthy of consideration.
The genesis (if you’ll pardon the word choice) of Pence’s credulousness can be traced to a combination of American anti-intellectualism and the evangelical fundamentalism of the religious right, what Isaac Asimov refers to as “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” It is as close as Pence will ever come to belief in a democracy. Unfortunately, objective truth is not up for a vote. The hard science governing epidemiology is far beyond Pence’s intellectual capacity, so much so that he recently wiped his nose before shaking hands with a doctor at the recent White House briefing room press conference announcing his elevation to coronavirus “Tsar.”
Pence’s unfitness is by no means theoretical, either. He has some spectacular practical failures behind him underlining his unfitness for his new role. As governor of Indiana, Pence was dangerously slow to respond to an HIV/AIDS outbreak. His excuse was he had to “pray about it” and, apparently, Pence was just as incompetent with God’s help as he was without it.
As bad as coronavirus is, it is nothing, a trifle, a mere bagatelle next to the threat of global warming. Pence is a man who has already laughed off global warming. How anyone can believe he will somehow get the coronavirus crisis right has to be dumber than the guy who believes in the two hitchhiking penguins, which is also Pence. For good measure, Pence added Steven Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow to his response team, just to dispel any remaining doubt as to his unfitness.
According to a recent Centers for Disease Control estimate, between 40% and 70% of all Americans will contract coronavirus. As I’m sure that statistic covers England as well that means there’s a slightly better than even chance that you and I will come down with it. The odds that we will survive it are quite good, but that is the only comfort to be had from the notion that, for my American brothers and sisters anyway, a wilfully ignorant fool like Mike Pence will be in charge.