So when will Laxalt get us some ventilators?

car ride
Adam Laxalt, chairman of the Trump reelection campaign in Nevada, tweeted this photo during a Trump visit to Las Vegas in June, 2018.

Adam Laxalt published a commentary in the Reno Gazette-Journal Friday and you know what word was not in it? 

Ventilators.

“I cannot stress enough how fortunate we are that the Trump administration has proven time and again it will always have the Silver State’s back,” wrote Laxalt, who is Trump’s 2020 campaign chairman in Nevada.

The Nevada Republican Party, which like Laxalt is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp., has been aggressively social-distancing from the man who beat Laxalt in the race for Nevada governor in 2018.

“Governor Steve Sisolak made another horrible decision regarding the COVID-19 response this week,” the state GOP said in a fundraising email Thursday. The “horrible decision” in question, according to the party, was Sisolak putting former MGM CEO Jim Murren in charge of a “Response, Relief & Recovery Task Force.”

There are a lot of reasons to be disappointed with Murren’s selection, but here’s my favorite: Murren has spent the last couple decades leading MGM as, like much of corporate America, the company became more and more financialized through stock buybacks, real estate sale-leaseback gimmicks and other measures designed to appease “activist” investors and the shareholder value for which they stand. Financialization of the economy is both a cause and a symptom of the country’s perverse income inequality, and the economic insecurity of working families. And Murren has been in it up to his eyeballs.

I know! You’d think Nevada Republicans would like him.

But Murren is a funder and ally of known Democrats including Sisolak and Joe Biden. And Republicans are not going to let a little thing like a civilization-threatening pandemic get in the way of partisan politics.

Since Sisolak declared he was “thrilled to announce” Murren would head up a task force, the only priority the governor has identified for that task force is procuring medical equipment and supplies. Murren has “access to people I don’t have access to,” including “contacts around the world that can help provide us with some of this material,” Sisolak said during a March 24 video stream.

The Trump administration’s approach to coordinating the distribution of medical supplies and equipment in the U.S. has been … tragically AWOL. States have been put in a bidding war for $7 masks that used to cost less than a dollar.

Friday Nevada officials started releasing a daily “situation report,” which includes information like this:

  • The State of Nevada has submitted 4 COVID-19 testing component requests. Nevada has received 0 shipments of COVID-19 testing components.
  • Nevada has 4 pending requests for COVID-19 testing components and has been told by the federal government that these items are on an indefinite backlog.

Oh, hey, you know what other words cannot be found in the glowing pro-Trump commentary written by Trump’s Nevada campaign chairman? 

Test. Or testing. Let alone test kits.

According to the state’s situation report, 40 percent of the ventilators in Nevada are in use. Already. If there is someone somewhere with credible medical and scientific credentials who contends Nevada’s coronavirus crisis is peaking now, a) goodness wouldn’t that be wonderful let’s hope they’re right, but b) damned if I know who they’d be.

Laxalt, in his column, refrained from taking shots at the guy who beat him. Space probably didn’t allow it, since Laxalt’s top priority was filling what valuable newsprint real estate he had with descriptions of how great and magical Donald Trump is.

But nor did Laxalt acknowledge that governors — including the person who beat him in 2018 — have been forced to make unprecedented decisions on their own, with little guidance, and even less coherent leadership, from a person whose most memorable phrase of the crisis thus far has been “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

Governors have been pleading for federal assistance, and getting little to jack of it. For their troubles, they get dressed down by an authoritarian weakman in the White House who says if governors want to help people in their states survive, the governors must first praise Trump effusively for all his foot-dragging, confusion, contradictions, inanities, dangerous inaccuracies, outright lies, and incompetence.

As Laxalt does.

Earlier this year, when it became clear Nevada Democrats in Congress had thwarted Trump’s efforts to kickstart the Yucca Mountain dump, Trump decided it would be better for him, politically, to take it out of his budget.

Laxalt took credit.

In the unlikely event Trump’s “administration” gets its act together and delivers substantial supplies of much-needed medical equipment to Nevada in a timely manner, Laxalt will presumably take credit for that too.

It would be nice to believe that this time Laxalt is trying to earn it — that the gushing encomium published under his name in the Reno paper is coupled with tireless behind-the-scenes work from Laxalt, state GOP chair Michael McDonald, and their Venetian masters to cash in on all the sycophantic mush (and Adelson’s actual cash) they’ve thrown Trump’s way, all in an effort to get Trump to give Nevada even a fraction of the help Laxalt claims Trump has already “delivered.”

Contest! Let’s see who can get more supplies and equipment to Nevada quickest, Murren or Laxalt.

I honestly don’t care who wins, so long as somebody does, and both sides play hard.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.