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You're listening to Comedy Central. Ambassador Rice, welcome to The Daily Social Distancing Show. It's great to be with you forever. Thanks.
It's a very different way to be with one another. And during this time, I've realized it's also a very different way for us to mourn the passing of people that we admired or cared about most recently. John Lewis, when you look at his legacy and his life and what we need to continue doing today, how far do you think we are on continuing that journey and that and creating that good trouble, as he called it?
Well, I hope that John Lewis's legacy will be to give us all a kick in the pants and remind us that we can be much better than we are, especially than we are today. You know, he had such warmth and such humanity and such courage and he never, never quit fighting. And he knew that he was leaving us in a moment when we were being sorely tested. When there's the possibility of us finally reckoning as he tried all his life with our historic racial injustices and our deep seated inequalities that are not only racial but socioeconomic.
But it's also a moment where we're struggling with a pandemic that is disproportionately affecting low income people and people of color, immigrants. And we have leadership that literally could care less.
You were the national security adviser to President Obama. You were part of the pandemic response team. You were part of the people who were tasked with protecting America from a situation just like this. What plans did you have in place that the Trump administration did or didn't use or what should have been done?
As somebody who was on a task force designed just to do this, we understood, as did frankly, prior administrations, that pandemics are inevitable, that they are hard to predict exactly when they'll come. But we know they will come and they've come repeatedly since 1918. In fact, we had under the Obama administration in 2009 what was known as the swine flu pandemic, which was quite consequential. So we understood this could happen. So we were prepared. We left the incoming Trump administration with briefing papers and a sixty nine page playbook, which I like to call Pandemics for dummies.
It was here all the questions and considerations you should run through if and when you face this kind of crisis. We had a tabletop exercise with the entire incoming Trump cabinet and the outgoing Obama cabinet. And we sat down in one of the scenarios we ran for them turned out to be pression. It was of such a novel, Saar's like virus emerging China. And, you know, all of that seemed to be for naught because a couple of years into office, President Trump dismantled the office that I set up on global health security.
They trashed that playbook or stuck it in some drawer and some shelf, never pulled it out for two months, January, February and part of March. He really denied the reality of this virus. It equated it to the seasonal flu. Said it would go away. It was no big deal. And then by that time, you know, it was already well embedded in our country. And closing down flights from China were flights from Europe were too little, too late.
And he says that save, you know, hundreds of millions of lives. Well, it's cost. His mishandling of this has already cost one hundred and forty thousand lives. And it's going to tragically be many more.
It seems like America is one of the few countries where the country doesn't have a rule about wearing masks, whereas overseas you get like the U.K., you get South Africa, you get so many countries really gone. Hey, we don't care about your personal opinions on this. Just like wearing clothes. You have to wear a mask for now. And it's as simple as that. Do you think the federal government should have more of a global message in and around mosques?
Absolutely. I mean, it's ridiculous that we've allowed small pieces of cotton to be, you know, this incredibly divisive thing. We don't mind wearing shirts and pants in public. Why do we have to mind wearing masks in public if it's going to protect ourselves and our loved ones and those in our community? If Donald Trump had from early on said, look, you know, I recognize that, you know, it may be a little bit uncomfortable or inconvenient, but when you're out in public, do as I do, wear a mask, keep your loved ones and yourself safe.
Keep your city safe. It'll make a huge difference. It'll enable us to bend this curve. Keep it down and get our businesses back and running. People back to their jobs. Kids back to their schools. I don't think we would have had this political reaction to the extent that we have today. How do you view the situation in Portland right now? Because that that has thrown many Americans off kilter. You know, federal officers coming in an unmarked cause in unmarked uniforms, grabbing people off the streets, throwing them into vans, apprehending them, people feeling like it feels less like a like a free country and more like an authoritarian regime, you know, for some of the people who are on the ground there.
When you look at what's happening, I mean, there's always a balance between a federal response and letting the states handle it or the cities themselves. But how do you view what's happening in Portland right now? Do you think that it's a it's a it's a required use of force or federal assistance, or do you think that something has gone off the rails?
No, it's an abuse of power by President Trump and it's a purely politically motivated abuse of power. He's sagging in the polls. He thinks the only way to rally his base is through racism and, you know, touting law and order. He is sending federal forces out on the streets without markings, without insignia, probably without legal authority to do so. And he's rounding up people as if we were, you know, in Belarus or something. It's ridiculous.
And, you know, it has nothing to do with their stated mandate of protecting federal buildings and installations. They're now out literally beating the crap out of peaceful protesters and trying to incite more violence so that they have an excuse to use more force. But here he is now pushing the envelope in Portland and threatening to do it elsewhere. And I think Americans need to be on high alert. This is an abuse of power. It's corruption. It's autocracy.
On our own shores, there's no denying that your name has come up repeatedly in and around the conversation of vice president. Would you want to serve in the Biden administration? Would you want to serve as a V.P.?
Well, Trevor, what I want is for Joe Biden to be elected the next president, the United States. I want us to win the Senate and keep the House so that we have the opportunity to put our country back on course and to unite the country and to deal with the damage that's been done, but also to take this opportunity and move forward, improve health care, improve education, deal with our underlying disparities. And if I can help in any way, whether it's at the highest levels or some other way, to be part of helping him get elected and to govern, if and when he does, then that's what I want to do.
And if that's not what he chooses for me, that's fine as well. I will do everything I can regardless because of all that we've just talked about. So much is at stake. We have got to move this country in a different and better direction. And so I'll do anything I can. Whether it's the modern day equivalent of licking envelopes or it's, you know, standing back inside.
Well, as you say, I hope America gets back on track. I hope people find a way to depoliticize those little pieces of cotton. And hopefully your words will become prescient when we try to get in a few months. Ambassador Rice, thank you so much for joining us on the Daily Social Distancing Show. Thanks, Trevor. Great to be with you.
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