“You can’t have inflation,” Tweets Donald Trump Jr, “if there’s nothing on the shelves to buy!!!” I post this latest tweet by Trump Lite (27 seconds old as I begin writing this) as a textbook case of heavily packed ignorance. Let’s unpack it and see what Santa brought us early.
First, we can dispense with the notion that Donald Trump Jr actually does the grocery shopping for his family. That’s just too laughable for serious consideration. He probably came up with this misplaced scare tactic from Fox News gadfly Laura Ingraham. Back on 19 October Ingraham crowed (as only a smug and safe millionaire can crow) over a photo of empty grocery store shelves as proof of the failed Biden presidency. Unfortunately, the photo she was doing her victory lap around was taken in 2020 when You Know Who was president.
Not to be upstaged by the truth, Laura Ingraham recently broadcast an indignant segment declaiming the perfidy of the wretched Left for daring to fact check her. As yet another entry into Fox’s Book of Martyrs, she then proceeded to show recent photos of empty shelves to make her original point. Unfortunately, one of those photos came from another Fox segment explaining that items were removed from the shelf as a deterrent to shoplifting.
But back to my original point, the unpacking of Junior’s tweet. Joe Biden isn’t why America is currently experiencing inflation and a few empty shelves. Inflation, panic buying and the occasional empty shelf is what happens when recovering from a pandemic. When demand goes up so do prices, and supply often goes down. (As a graduate of Father Guido Sarducci’s Five Minute University I can state this with some authority.)
Why was America hit so heavily by the pandemic in the first place? In part because of the criminal negligence of the Trump administration, which did everything in its power to make sure that the coronavirus plague would devastate America more than any other technologically advanced country. Not content with merely ignoring the pandemic and pretending it would “go away” in April (though to be fair he might have meant April of 2030), Donald Trump also made a point of politicizing it, promoting quack cures and encouraging the people of Virginia and other states to revolt against the wearing of masks in the name of “freedom.”
Much of what can be so easily laid at the feet of his own father, Junior (with the help of Fox News) twists himself into contortions in an effort to blame Joe Biden. This is necessary for a party that has no real platform. Or, at least, no platform that they can safely trot out without provoking snickers and catcalls. After all, tax cuts for billionaires, climate change denial, depriving women of their reproductive rights, and the establishment of an American Christian theocracy aren’t exactly popular with the American people. When all you have are distractions, distractions are what you use.
I am not trying to claim the opposite, however. There’s a lot of stuff in the news about the broken supply chain. Is it true or just a case of the media in general exaggerating the situation to serve their usual if-it-bleeds-it-leads agenda? Curiously, much of the supply chain problem in Britain is laid at the feet of Brexit, and not so much the worldwide pandemic. The truth, as is so often the case, is probably too complicated to fit snugly into a cheap sound bite, and too multivarious in its origins to find one specific person or policy to blame.
But simple minds need easy-to-blame villains and an endless supply of indignation for them to get outraged about. And for those commodities, thanks to Fox News and the likes of Donald Trump Junior, there are no signs of a supply chain shortage. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.