Marc A. Thiessen’s March 27 column (“Trump understands that the lockdown is unsustainable,” Page A13) defends Donald Trump by blaming delayed COVID-19 testing on the Food and Drug Administration, as if this vital department of government is separate from the administration of the president.

The commissioner of the FDA, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is appointed by the president and reports to the health and human services secretary, a Cabinet position reporting directly to the president. Mr. Thiessen cites incompetence, but it starts at the top, two steps up from the office of the commissioner.

President Trump nominated FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, who was sworn into office Dec. 17, reporting to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the fifth of five secretaries and acting secretaries to take office from Jan. 20, 2017, to Jan. 29, 2018. Instability at the office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services lies with Donald Trump. These were all Trump’s picks.

The president needed only to demand action from Azar, a direct report, to place emphasis on “ramping up testing,” to quote Mr. Thiessen. The president did not do so. Delays at the FDA showed incompetence from the bottom up and the top down.

Presidents are remembered by their words in times of crisis. Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Harry S. Truman: “The buck stops here.” John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you.” Ronald Reagan: “Tear down this wall.” Donald J. Trump: “No, I don’t take responsibility at all.”

Tom Foley

Cumberland Foreside

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