Conservative sort-of news outlet Washington Times put up a story yesterday after interviewing Sen. Cory Gardner on the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re obliged to use the word “interview” loosely in this case, since it’s tough to call this anything close to incisive or informative.
In fact, it almost seems like it was written on another planet:
Sen. Cory Gardner, Colorado Republican, on Thursday said in an ideal world, a reopening of the country would be accompanied by coronavirus testing that’s so prevalent people can grab one at a 7-Eleven store or in a first-aid kit at an office.
“Testing absolutely is key here,” Mr. Gardner said on “Fox & Friends.” “I’d like to see testing so ubiquitous going forward that you can go buy your Big Gulp at 7-Eleven, and you can get your COVID-19 test at the same time.” [Pols emphasis]
“That every business has in their first-aid kit a COVID-19 test so if they have an employee who has a sore throat, they’re able to go get that … within a matter of minutes, they get results,” he said…
COVID-19 tests at 7-Eleven! Get one with your Big Gulp! Honestly, who on earth would oppose this? It’s a captivating notion, and sure–that would go a long way toward helping reopen the country.
The problem, of course, is that there is no plan in place by the federal government or anywhere else we know of to provide COVID-19 tests at 7-Eleven, or anything like that level of ubiquity. There’s a growing recognition here in Colorado and across the nation that a lack of testing availability on the scale needed to control the spread of the pandemic on an individual level–which is crucial to safely reopening the economy–simply does not exist.
It seems outlandish until you realize that this is part of a pattern for Cory Gardner on a range of issues from health care to immigration: rhetoric that nobody can really disagree with, but which has no factual relationship to what’s actually happening on the issue. Gardner wanted “better health care” than the Affordable Care Act, but never came up with a plan other than just repealing the ACA. Gardner wanted immigration reform, except when an actual bill was on the table.
In a crisis like the present, Gardner’s reality-disconnected freewheeling rhetoric does real harm by creating an unrealistic expectation of imminent progress. That’s not much different from promising the voters to “repeal and replace” Obamacare over the course of numerous election cycles and never delivering either–but it seems worse to be doing this now.
At long last, can Cory Gardner not just be honest?