The Corner

Politics & Policy

A Record Worth Defending, If the President Was Interested

President Donald Trump walks out the front doors of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after a fourth day of treatment for the coronavirus in Bethesda, Md., October 5, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Yesterday, President Trump told his supporters on a conference call, regarding the pandemic, “People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone. They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing [Dr. Anthony] Fauci and all these idiots.” And then he added a few tweets, “Tony should stop wearing the Washington Nationals’ Mask for two reasons. Number one, it is not up to the high standards that he should be exposing. Number two, it keeps reminding me that Tony threw out perhaps the worst first pitch in the history of Baseball!”

The president and his team could do a much better job defending their record; but you cannot make a president take actions he doesn’t want to take. A detailed defense of his administration’s actions on the pandemic just doesn’t interest him.

Instead of mocking Fauci on Twitter, the president could be laying out, in detail, how Operation Warp Speed already “helped prop up more than two dozen vaccine manufacturing facilities — flying in equipment and raw materials from all over the world.” (The fact that the vaccine will not be ready by Election Day is ipso facto evidence that the accusations that the vaccine was being rushed to be ready before Election Day were not accurate.) The Food and Drug Administration has issued emergency-use authorizations for investigational convalescent plasma and separately, an agreement with AstraZeneca for late-stage development and large-scale manufacturing of the company’s COVID-19 investigational product AZD7442, a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies, that may help treat or prevent COVID-19. The Moderna vaccine could be ready by December if the current clinical trial shows the right kind of results.

You see this on issue after issue, where the administration’s record is defensible or even worth celebrating, but the president isn’t interested in the details, and thus rarely or never mentions them. Right to Try. The First Step Act, enacting sweeping criminal-justice-reform measures. Approximately 371 miles of replaced or new border fencing. For three years until the pandemic hit, the labor market tightened and wages went up, including for the lowest earners. The S&P 500 made back their pandemic losses by August, and despite all the economic troubles driven by the pandemic, American households’ net worth hit a record last quarter, as did homebuilder confidence, average credit scores, savings rate and average cash savings, and there are currently 6.5 million open jobs in the country. The 30-year mortgage rate is at a record low. Car sales were hit hard early in the year, but are bouncing back.

ISIS is gone, al-Baghdadi is dead, Qasem Soleimani is dead, and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain now diplomatically recognize Israel. Last year saw the U.S. generate the largest decline in energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 in the world, renewable energy use is at an all-time high, and last year U.S. energy production exceeded U.S. energy consumption for the first time since 1957.

But the president really, really thinks he’s got Fauci nailed on that wild first pitch at the Nationals game, so he’ll focus on that.

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