The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: #9 “Trump’s Mishandling Of The Pandemic Killed People”

 

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.

Conservative writer Matt Margolis has done an excellent job chronicling the  ingredients of Big Lie #9 in two long and thoroughly researched articles, here and here. Highlights:

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.

19 thoughts on “The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: #9 “Trump’s Mishandling Of The Pandemic Killed People”

  1. Unfortunately, it appears from the polls that this lie is sticking. I think it also helps that it is aided by another Big Lie, that the president is responsible for the culture that led to George Floyd’s death, AND that he is attempting to use the response to it to impose tyranny. There is also another unspoken big lie – that the movement that has sprung up in the wake of George Floyd’s death is the unstoppable wave of the future.

    People are tired at this point. They are tired of the restrictions that have taken away a lot of the things that make life worth living. They are tired of social distancing, tired of masks, and tired of washing every time they touch a doorknob. They are also tired of bad news, tired of new outbreaks, tired of extensions of emergencies, and tired of a government that seems not to be able to get a handle on this problem. On top of that they are tired of protests, tired of mobs, and tired of the fear that their town may be next. People are also afraid. They are afraid that the next outbreak could get them, afraid that they could lose everything they ever worked for to a mob attack, afraid they could be destroyed by cancel culture. People are also resentful. They are resentful of the restrictions that limit them while protestors run amok. They are resentful of the destruction that no one seems to be able to contain. They are also resentful of the loss of every damn significant event from this year and the fact that there appears to be zero hope in sight for a return of normalcy. Graduations, weddings, family gatherings, social events, all shot, and they are never going to get those memories back. There is nothing to look forward to now except a socially distanced holiday season, and who knows what beyond that. A lot of people are saying we’ll just make next year better, but they don’t believe next year will be better in their heart of hearts. Many more are just shrugging and saying this is the new normal. There’s also a generous helping of guilt, as suddenly every white person has been declared responsible for the plight of the black and brown, every monument has been declared white supremacist, and everyone in a uniform or carrying a badge has been declared part of a rotten system.

    At this point a lot of people blame the current leadership, and aren’t interested in the fine points of what was done or not done. They just want it to change, and the easiest and most visible way to make change is to change the leadership. The opposition has the advantage now of not having to give a real alternative or a solid plan to fix the problem. It has the greater advantage of being able to stay out of sight and only snipe at the current leadership as nothing seems to go right and everything seems to either go wrong or get worse, and in the background other opposition, like the Manhattan DA, prepares another attempt to attack the president as an outright criminal.

    None of this is fair, but few seem to be standing up against it. The few that do, like the St. Louis couple that took up arms to defend their property, or the residents of certain towns that assembled to stop statues from being destroyed, or the conservative journalists who are sounding the alarm as to where this is all headed if we don’t stop this, are being tarred as racists or defenders of a rotten system. Kind of scary, when you think about it. My greatest fear is that if this current movement is allowed to sweep over the leadership of this country it will be very difficult to unmake the changes it will make, and those changes will not be for the better. We only have to look to New York or VA or Seattle as examples of what happens when the Democratic Party gains full control of someplace, and to Portland as an example of what happens when the radical left gains full control of someplace. In France the people overthrew the system they viewed as unfair, only to see one rise that sent victims to the guillotine for any reason or no reason, and finally had to be ended by a certain not-so-short (in life he was 5’7″, not that short for the early 19th century) corporal. In Ireland a war of terror finally forced British rule to end – only to lead to an even more destructive civil war. In Cambodia the people welcomed the Khmer Rouge as a possibility for peace after years of civil strife…only to see towns, money, religion and private property abolished and death by bayonet and club introduced for any and all offenses. Heck, we don’t even have to go that obscure – Nazi Germany, Fascist Spain, and Communist Russia all serve as great illustrations of what happens when you allow overthrow of the system. Part of the reason for the collapse of the Russian military in WWI was the new government order that deprived military officers of disciplinary authority (fearing the officer corps could become a counterrevolutionary force). We all know what happened in Germany when one group was blamed for the nation’s ills. I don’t think we’re there yet, and we may never get there. However, I find the mobs, the visible destruction and the painting of huge political slogans disturbing. I don’t want to get to a point where white-owned businesses are driven out of cities under threat of destruction or white people are expected to stay silent. I don’t think this nation is well-served if it becomes in effect two, who can’t stand each other.

    Almost 30 years ago, during the sci-fi revival of the 1990s there was a short-lived (2 seasons, I think) television program called Time Trax. The underlying premise was not all that original – a scientist in the future who turned to evil built a time machine and used it to send that era’s worst criminals back 200 years, out of reach of the authorities. A policeman of that time, played by the otherwise mostly unknown Dale Midkiff, was also sent back, with the mission of sending them back to face justice. The episodes were fairly formulaic and not all that interesting, but ok for killing an otherwise idle hour. What was interesting, thought not explored that much, was the series’ premise for the future, which posited, among other things, a black president to come, a “uniform police code” that would do away with state and local jurisdictional differences, and that white men would be a despised racial minority known as “blancos.” Well, we’ve had our black president, although he was a senator plucked from relative obscurity and used as a blank slate against a party in power who had just seen a huge economic crash rather than a Secretary of State who achieved a great diplomatic breakthrough (I think the series was using Colin Powell as a template). The current call to abolish the police could one day lead to some kind of uniform police code overseen by some central authority. White people are on their way out as the majority, and are headed toward becoming the most despised group of all.

    A vote for these big lies is one more step toward that vision of the future. I’d hate to think that the future is some cheap sci-fi show written by liberal hack writers, but…stranger things have happened.

    • I remember “Time Trax”. I think I only watched one or two episodes, though.

      My husband refuses to call this the New Normal. He prefers the term “Interim Normal”. There are probably people out there who would prefer this be the New Normal even though it’s to the detriment of the entire country.

      I don’t know that people are necessarily going to blame the President for this. I think most of the so-called Silent Majority out there are intelligent enough to see that he did not cause the pandemic and that he is being hobbled in his attempt to restore order by his political enemies..

      But I think your assessment of people’s frustration is on the mark. People are tired of the endless bad news. Our brains were not meant to be traumatized and re-traumatized on a daily basis. That’s why I try to take breaks from social media and news sites just to allow my synapses to heal. It’s quite likely that some of the protesters are out there causing damage because they’re tired of being required to socially isolate. They can’t do anything else, after all.

      I think that’s where this mask controversy comes from. Don’t get me wrong. I do agree that the inconsistent information regarding the efficacy of face masks has been part of the problem. But mask-wearing, like voting, is something people feel they can control. They can’t control the riots, they can’t reopen the economy, they can’t go back and have those weddings, funerals and graduations…but they can sure decide whether or not they are going to wear a mask. That becomes their hill to die on because they can’t affect change in any other way.

      • Great comment, A.M. I too think people are smart enough to know a government can’t stop an epidemic. Governments don’t have super powers like comic book movie heroes, and people know that, the media notwithstanding. Nobody who was pissed off enough to vote for Trump in 2016 has had their mind changed by anything he’s done or failed to do. He’s delivered on a lot of things, his fierce opposition notwithstanding.

    • A minor point: Napoleon was commissioned as a a second lieutenant in an artillery regiment in 1785. He never held the rank of corporal. Hitler did though. Otherwise your analysis of the current state of affairs and historical antecedents is brilliant.

      • I’m aware of that – I’m playing off his nickname of “the little corporal.” John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, was a nobleman and always an officer, starting as an ensign (more like an infantry second lieutenant than a new-fledged naval officer), but they called him “Corporal John.”

        • Hitler, also, was derogatorily called “The Little Corporal” or “The Bohemian Corporal” by Paul von Hindenburg and some of the high-born Prussian military men.

          • Ah, gotcha. Well, nope, here I’m talking about Napoleon as “The Little Corporal.” I wouldn’t use that term to refer to Hitler, although I might call him a few other things…like greatest villain of all so far.

    • Yesterday Rasmussen’s polling showed the President with his highest approval rating yet. That poll measures likely voters, and it was the one that was least off in 2016. Zogbe and others have shown the President rising with the riots.

      • And another poll also came out showing the President in a strong position. But apart from all that, we still have the fact that polling is still really Trump against “anyone but Trump.” Biden is a ghost. The Democrats eventually are going to have to have someone to compare to Trump in tangible terms, and whiever it is (including VPs) loses support.

        I think it is becoming increasingly clear that the media and the Democrats know this, and it is why they have become so shrill lately.

  2. A complete catalogue of big lies could be compiled by simply listing every word that’s come out of Nancy Pelosi’s mouth since the first Wednesday in November, 2016.

  3. Add to the hindsight list – ventilators. The administration was pummeled for the lack of ventilators and its efforts to mobilize the nation’s manufacturing sectors to produce unheard of quantities in record time. As it turned out, the need was vastly overestimated with the predictable result that the administration is now being roasted for the wasted money spent for the ventilators. As you concluded, whatever the President did, he should have done something else.

  4. My personal favorite subspecies of this big lie is Andrew Cuomo being held up as the Corona Virus genius because he’s a Democrat governor of New York and Mario Cuomo’s son. I think he’s even said Trump “has blood on his hands.” If he hasn’t I’m sure Chris has. And Andrew was the guy who sent infected, elderly people to nursing homes!

  5. If you want to observe (and can stomach) a remarkable stream of unsupported Big Lie repetition and Howl-at-the-moon snowflakery anguish, find the right twitter comment string. THIS ONE is all the more amusing, as it features the pitiful Jeff Flake trying to curry favor with the mob, and getting none.

    • This is Chaos. Predicting what would have happened in a chaotic system if one or many factors had been different is speculation and impossible to confirm. My position is that it is false to assert as certain or probable what one cannot know or prove and which did not happen. Hindsight bias is a fallacy. Is there a well-reasoned argument that it isn’t?

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