Question: What additional measures, within presidential authority, do people say the president should take against Covid-19?

How can this question be made more focused? The question was closed without any guidance.

  • 3
    There were a lot of comments under that question which I deleted because I assumed you already read them and reacted on them as far as you saw fit (you replied to several of them). I restored these comments so nobody repeats discussions we already had. I am going to delete them again when this question eventually gets reopened. – Philipp Oct 7 '20 at 15:06

I voted to close that question because as too broad because the powers of the Presidency are vast and, often, vaguely defined. So the answer to any question that amounts to "what could the President have done" is going to be both immensely broad, and, likely, opinion based since people have different opinions on what they expect the President to do.

A complete answer would have to deal with public health concerns, economic stimulus, personal safety, the kinds of messages the President sends from the bully-pulpit, the powerful, but ill-defined role of the President in designing and advocating for (or killing) legislation, the kinds of people he puts in charge of the FDA and CDC, the guidance he gives to state governments, and the way that the President, as leader of his party in a time of hyper-partisanship, sets the tone for how Republicans think about and respond to this crisis. You could (and people certainly will) write a whole book on Trump's approach to the last few months, but any StackExchange length answer is going to be entirely incomplete, and that incompleteness is going to reflect the answerer's biases.

Before voting to close, I considered writing an answer, but trying to define everything the president can do, and evaluating whether he used those powers to help or hurt the country, is really a daunting and opinion-based effort. Answers are likely to fall into 3 buckets:

  1. The President did everything he could do – which of course will choose to take a inaccurately narrow view of Presidential power and responsibilities
  2. Here are the countless things the President didn't do, or did do which were counter-productive – which is going to lead to endless arguments about whether it's fair to expect the President to do X
  3. Vague answers like the one that's there now, which just describe the President's power, but don't really answer the question

In my opinion, a better way to approach this would be to narrow down the question to more defined topics. It seems like you already have an opinion on this, and you're wondering why these 3 steps he's taken aren't enough. So, why not focus on those steps? Questions like: "Why doesn't Trump get credit for the China travel ban?" or "Was the Defense Production Act effective at resolving PPE shortages?" might be more easily and objectively answered.

If you do want to keep it broad, you might want to remove the leading parts of the question. While you may think he's done enough, you shouldn't argue that in the question or pose strawman-like arguments (ie. "As best as I can tell, the main complaint from the President's opponents is regarding the dates/times of the above actions") which make it seem like you're more interested in pushing a point than getting an answer. I'm not saying that's the case, but on the internet, tone is hard to read and if you want someone to take the time to write a long, detailed answer, you should try particularly hard to show it will get a fair reading.

  • In asking the question, my intent was to narrow the scope to actions he can take (powers he can invoke, measures he can enact "by the stoke of his pen", as it were), as opposed to actions he can influence others to take. Most of the basis of your objection seems to be on the latter basis. Can you suggest a way in which the question could be better framed to restrict the scope to the scope I want to focus on? – Ertai87 Oct 7 '20 at 17:27
  • Mainly, my objection to the latter scope is based on "people are people"; as an example, you can tell people to wear a mask, but the "but mah freedum" people will ignore you no matter how many times you ask or how forcefully you try. So the veracity of such a claim, that anything Trump may have said and effects of that are, imo, opinion-based at best (and opinions are frowned upon on Politics SE) – Ertai87 Oct 7 '20 at 17:29
  • As for the "leading parts of the question", those were added later in an edit; the original question was much more neutral, but I received a suggestion in the comments that the question could be improved by referencing the President's opponents; in order to do so while remaining neutral, some rebuttal to the biased commentary of the President's opponents seemed necessary. – Ertai87 Oct 7 '20 at 17:33
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    Exactly, but since the majority of the president’s power comes from telling people to do things (either through executive orders that influence parts of the executive branch, through the bully pulpit or through their role as head of their party) an answer that ignores that would be woefully incomplete. – divibisan Oct 7 '20 at 17:37
  • This is just my opinion, but I might suggest asking about what his opponents think he should have done. That’s more objective and can be backed up by published statements, but writers can still comment on whether these things are, in fact, within the president’s powers – divibisan Oct 7 '20 at 17:40
  • I mean, by that logic, every act of government is "telling people to do things"; the President doesn't deploy the military by himself, like he doesn't literally steer each individual Navy boat. However, colloquially I think you know what I mean and are just being difficult. – Ertai87 Oct 7 '20 at 17:43
  • "should have done" is not a topic I particularly want to engage, because hindsight is always 20/20 and situations change. For example, in February/March, Tony Fauci was talking about how mask-wearing is not essential, in order to stop people from hoarding the masks and preventing front line workers from getting proper PPE. We say now that mask-wearing is essential, but at that time there were other/larger concerns. Was Fauci wrong to say that, at that time? It's hard to say. So arguing in "woulda shoulda coulda" is not something I am particularly interested in. – Ertai87 Oct 7 '20 at 17:49
  • But that’s your question. You literally say “My question is: what more could he have done that he didn't/has not yet done”. At least if you asked about his opponents arguments, then there would be an objective answer. Alternately, you might want a more general question on “what are the president’s powers?” – divibisan Oct 7 '20 at 17:59
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    Fair. I could probably update to "what more can he do that he didn't/has not yet done". – Ertai87 Oct 7 '20 at 18:00
  • I’m not sure how that’s better. If you’re trying adjust the timeframe so the question is something like “forget the past, what can Trump do right now about COVID-19?” then you should also remove the discussion of what he’s done in the past – divibisan Oct 7 '20 at 18:06
  • "what are the president's powers regarding a covid-19 response" is the question I am trying to ask, to reply to a previous comment. More specifically, "what are the president's powers, minus the enumerated list of things he's already done". – Ertai87 Oct 7 '20 at 18:08

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