Newsmakers with JR
GOP House Candidate Andy Caldwell: "This Crisis Is Over –-Gov. Newsom Keeps Moving the Goal Posts"
So politically polarized is America amid the coronavirus pandemic that the choice to don or shun a mask in public has become an urgent signifier of tribal affiliation in the red-blue cultural wars.
Always seeking to bridge this bitter partisan divide, Dr. Anthony Fauci , however, framed the central political and policy question of the moment, in about as neutral. clear and crisp a way as possible:
"How many deaths and how much suffering are you willing to accept, to get back to what you want to be some form of normality, sooner rather than later?" the nation's infectious disease icon said this week.
In calibrating the Fauci Formulation, mark Andy Caldwell down squarely on the side of "sooner."
“This crisis is over,” Santa Barbara County's most reliably vociferous conservative firebrand insisted in an interview with Newsmakers.
“After we achieved the initial criteria laid out by the governor – preventing the surge, flattening the curve, personal protective equipment…I thought the rest of this should have been -- we could have social distanced better at work than we could at home.”
Radio host, newspaper columnist and Republican challenger to Democratic Rep. Salud Carbajal (remember the election?), the 62-year old Caldwell is best known for his advocacy on behalf of the county's Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business. This week, as detailed by the Angry Poodle, he was among those urging the Board of Supervisors to move swiftly and aggressively beyond Gov. Newsom’s baby steps relaxation of the stay-at-home order which Prince Gavin imposed in March, effectively shuttering California’s economy.
“Governor Newsom keeps moving the goal posts,” Caldwell charged in our interview.
“These politicians and the so-called experts they’ve relied on are literally scaring us to death,” he added, portraying the long shutdown as an extreme overreaction. “As if they could put everything on hold – our jobs, our well-being, the well-being of our economy."
At a time when we all have become armchair epidemiologists, Caldwell’s early stage record as a Covid-19 prognosticator does not age well. On March 11, his published column stated:
"The CDC estimates this year there have been at least 34 million flu illnesses, 350,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 deaths. In comparison, here in the United States, as of March 6, the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus was 148 persons with ten deaths having occurred, according to the World Health Organization.
The media has ignored this comparative threat assessment. Another thing the media has ignred is that 80 percent of coronavirus cases the world over have been classified as mild or asymptomatic, the latter meaning the people didn't have any symptoms at all!"
U.S. totals in the 68 days since Feb. 29: 1,250,532 cases and 75,254 people dead.
On the economy, however, Caldwell's view on what strategy county, state and federal governments should pursue now is hardly an outlier, given that it aligns directly with that of the President of the United States, along with a host of red-state governors.
“They actually had this bias – this selection bias - to pick out one ailment…to the detriment of everybody’s health and well being," he said of those who favored strict shutdowns.
Pandemic politics. Because the whole notion of traditional political campaigning is just another chunk of Covid-19 collateral damage, candidate Caldwell's aspirations to contrast his views with the liberal Salud's, about the virus and many other issues, so far have been thwarted.
“Right now he’s not in Congress -- the way one of my friends put it, he’s AWOL: Absent Without Legislation,” Caldwell said of Carbajal. “And he should be on (Zoom) right now, debating with me about the federal government, and even the state, governments’ response to Covid-19.”
(During the interview, Newsmakers promised to, Don King-like, try to pull together a Salud-Andy Zoom Cage Match. Will advise).
Caldwell acknowledged that, had he been in the House, he also would voted for the multi-trillion dollar federal coronavirus bail-out packages to which Carbajal and nearly all other members of Congress assented.
“I would have voted for them, but I would have insisted we have a plan to pay for them, and be honest with the American people up front about what we were going to have to cut, or how much debt we’re going to have to put onto our kids and grandkids,” he said.
“And I would have pushed to get our economy open as possible,” Andy added.
You can view our entire interview with Andy Caldwell by clicking below. The podcast version is here.
Lead image: Santa Maria Times.