Instapundit has a running “Jaws”-evoking gag, jointly favored by contributors Stephen Green and Ed Driscoll, when they are introducing posts that highlight certain outrages. For example, the link to an article titled “Five Times Obama Abused His Power and Democrats Didn’t Care” was introduced with their catch phrase,“You’re gonna need a bigger blog.” That would be an appropriate introduction for the latest addition to the Ethics Alarms list of the Big Lies launched in the ongoing effort to undermine Donald Trump.
[The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: A Directory has been updated, and can be found here.]
This one, the ninth (it replaces the previous #9, which is now subsumed in this one), is made up of hundreds, maybe thousands of smaller lies, fake news and deliberate misinformation, along with the now familiar sneering innuendos in virtually every report on the Administration’s efforts to respond to an ongoing health crisis.
The Democratic Party/”resistance”/mainstream media collective got overambitious with this one. It is simultaneously attempting to blame Trump for the Wuhan virus and the economic collapse that was the direct result of measures they claim he undertook too late. Meanwhile, they are advocating continuing damage to the economy in response to the virus now, while fearmongering about its risks. The internal hypocrisy and contradictions inherent in this is too obvious even for dimmer citizens to miss.
Big Lie #9 can stand as one of the most flagrant examples of unrestrained hindsight bias in world history. Leaders often have to act without perfect or even adequate information ; this was–is— especially the case with the pandemic. Even now, not enough is known about the virus, which may also have multiple strains and mutations. Whether any measures put in place by decision-makers are “good” decisions can only be judged by what is known at the time they are made; to do otherwise is consequentialism, which is unfortunatley how most people think, but which is, upon reflection, moronic. Stupid decisions that work, they reason, are smart; well-considered decisions that don’t are incompetent. President Trump’s enemies are counting on this non-logic to carry the Democrats to victory in November. It is a cynical and dangerous strategy, because it relies on undermining trust in the nation’s leadership.
The fact is that there may have been nothing President Trump could have done to make the effects of the virus any less devastating than they have been. Health organizations have been wrong; his experts have been wrong, China engaged in a deadly cover-up. One particularly hypocritical theme, which has also been employed as criticism in the wake of the George Floyd riots, is that President Trump has failed the test of leadership, that unlike President Roosevelt in his eloquent messages about the Depression and after Pearl Harbor, this President was unable to rally the nation through a crisis.
This criticism makes me particularly angry. Trump is no FDR, but the entire effort by the “resistance” and the news media since the President’s election has been to destroy his ability to be a bipartisan leader. They have withheld the respect for the office that all Presidents need to function effectively, and that all elected Presidents before this one were accorded as a matter of institutional tradition. They removed that crucial tool in their relentless efforts to destroy him, and now they denigrate him for not using it. The hypocrisy is loathsome.
One mistake Trump made, a typical one for him, was to say, early on, that he was not “responsible” for the outbreak. This is yet another example of how the President’s clumsiness in his rhetoric undermines his effectiveness and hands his foes metaphorical clubs to beat him with. He apparently thinks responsibility is synonymous with blame. It is not. Leaders are responsible for what occurs while they are in power. They are not, however, necessarily at fault.
Trump did not call the Wuhan virus a hoax.
To this day the left (and the media) claim Trump called the coronavirus a hoax. He said no such thing. While the country was distracted by impeachment, the Trump administration was busy addressing the coronavirus outbreak, taking various measures to limit the spread of the virus in the United States. Impeachment quickly faded, so they decided to aggressively politicize his response to the coronavirus outbreak. Joe Biden even called Trump’s travel ban with China an overreaction, and accused him of trying to scare the public. “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia ± hysterical xenophobia — and fearmongering to lead the way instead of science.”
President Trump responded to these allegations during a rally in South Carolina, calling the Democrats’ politicization of the coronavirus “the new hoax.” The media jumped on this line, claiming that Trump called the virus, not the Democrats’ reactions to it, a hoax. The lie spread like wildfire and Joe Biden even used the lie as a talking point on the stump.
The President did not turn down testing kits offered by WHO.
A Politico hit piece from early March claimed that the World Health Organization offered the United States coronavirus testing kits, but Trump refused to accept them. This claim spread quickly, and Joe Biden even alluded to it during his March 15 debate with Bernie Sanders, claiming, “The World Health Organization offered the testing kits that they have available and to give it to us now. We refused them. We did not want to buy them.” It wasn’t true. …So, why did testing get off to a slow start in the United States?…“Testing in the United States was fraught with difficulty in large part due to the slow approval by the Food and Drug Administration to allow testing kits developed by private companies outside of the government-controlled CDC to be used at a local or national level. Those FDA policies are consistent with the Obama Administration’s response to H1N1 and Ebola in 2009 and 2014 respectively.”
The President did not tell governors they were “on their own.”
New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay claimed that during a conference call with governors about the coronavirus pandemic, he told them they were “on their own” in getting the equipment they need. “‘Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,’ Mr. Trump told the governors during the conference call, a recording of which was shared with The New York Times.”… Gay deliberately misrepresented Trump’s words. Trump actually told governors on the call: “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves. We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”
Contrary to Joe Biden’s claims, he hasn’t specified what Trump should have done differently.
Joe Biden has tried to perpetuate this falsehood by giving press briefings telling Trump what he should be doing. The big problem with that is that when Biden has offered his own plan, he simply took things that Trump had already done, said he should do those things, and pretended they were his own ideas….one of the most significant actions taken by Trump, the travel ban with China, was actually opposed by Joe Biden, and Trump’s critics on the left. Unfortunately for them, WHO experts admitted Trump’s actions saved lives in the United States.
No, President Trump did not cut the budgets of health agencies.
Back in February both Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg …accused President Trump of cutting funding to critical health agencies during a primary debate. “There’s nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing. And he’s defunded — he’s defunded Centers for Disease Control, CDC, so we don’t have the organization we need. This is a very serious thing,” Bloomberg claimed. The Obama-Biden administration “increased the budget of the CDC. We increased the NIH budget. … He’s wiped all that out. … He cut the funding for the entire effort,” Biden claimed.
…According to an Associated Press fact-check, proposed budget cuts never happened, and funding increased.
Trump did not ignore early intel briefings on a possible pandemic.
The Washington Post again was the source of another bogus claim when they reported that intelligence agencies warned about a possible pandemic back in January and February and that Trump “failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen.” It was fake news. The Trump administration had begun aggressively addressing the coronavirus threat immediately after China reported the discovery of the coronavirus to the World Health Organization….In actuality, it was Trump’s critics who weren’t taking the coronavirus situation seriously. Joe Biden even accused Trump of “fearmongering” and “xenophobia” for his travel ban.
President Obama did not do a better job responding to the H1N1 virus.
...Ron Klain, who was Biden’s chief of staff at the time and is currently advising his campaign, says it was mere luck that H1N1 wasn’t more deadly. “It is purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the great mass casualty events in American history,” Klain said of H1N1 in 2019. “It had nothing to do with us doing anything right. It just had to do with luck. If anyone thinks that this can’t happen again, they don’t have to go back to 1918, they just have to go back to 2009, 2010, and imagine a virus with a different lethality, and you can just do the math on that.”
I did the math. If H1N1 had been as infectious as the coronavirus and had the same mortality rate as the coronavirus, there would have been 231 million infections (that’s 70 percent of the country) and 600,704 deaths. Based on Obama’s handling of H1N1, he would have botched coronavirus pandemic too.
President Trump did not “ignore experts” by not shutting down the country earlier, as Joe Biden in particular has said.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has repeatedly attempted to blame President Trump for America’s coronavirus deaths because he didn’t shut down the country a month earlier than he did. “This COVID epidemic has basically shut down the country these last three months. And, by the way, if we had shut it down a month earlier, we’d have probably another 45,000 to 60,000 people — would be alive instead of dead,” Biden said on June 1.
The World Health Organization declare[d] COVID-19 a pandemic until March 11. The next day, President Trump declared a national emergency. By then, there were only about 1,300 confirmed cases in the United States. When President Trump released social-distancing guidelines on March 16, there were fewer than 3,800 confirmed cases in the United States.
…Biden also delivered a speech in Pennsylvania four days after the state had declared a state of emergency. Despite the fact that Biden was holding campaign rallies into March, Biden claimed, “[Trump] didn’t listen to guys like me back in January saying we’d have a problem, an epidemic was on the way.” Biden was lying, and his actions prove this. On February 16, a month prior to Trump’s social-distancing guidelines being issued, there were only 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. No one was advocating for the country to be shut down, not Joe Biden, not the experts, not even Congress.
Which brings us back to hindsight bias, and the basic dishonesty of Big Lie #9. Whatever the President did, he should have done something else.