Democrats Play Pandemic Politics

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Even in highly polarized times, America historically displays an uncanny ability to unite in the face of a universal foe. For example, after taking office in 2001, President George W. Bush was still reviled by many Democrats following the hotly contested vote recount showdown of the 2000 election. But once the tragedy of 9/11 shocked America, our national conscience and body politic largely coalesced around a shared sense of mission and a will to win, together.

Unfortunately, in 2020 America, as our nation faces a warlike attack from the coronavirus and the concomitant economic fallout, Democrats choose to posture, mislead, and play politics. Specifically, presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi deploy outright partisan lies, even as our nation endures the throes of this pandemic.

President Trump initiates a flurry of action to address the historic virus challenge. Through legislation, executive orders, and travel bans he embraces the role of a wartime president marshaling all the capabilities of our great nation to counter, and ultimately defeat, this invisible enemy. Inevitably, in decision-making amid the fog of war, some missteps unfolded and some misstatements were made. But the big picture reveals an impressive mobilization of the public by government at every level as well as the genius of America’s private sector. The American public traditionally rallies to action-oriented leadership, and this was no exception: Last week, the Gallup poll reported a 60% approval rating for the president on his handling of the virus. In addition, Trump’s overall approval rating hit the highest of his presidency, per the RealClear Politics polling average.   

In contrast to Trump the commander-in-chief, the dithering Democrats prefer to blather and use the critical moments of a national crisis to play politics. Biden’s main super PAC, Unite the Country, has directed millions of dollars toward airing a TV commercial using demonstrably false smears against the president. The ad repeats the often-cited falsehood that Trump called the virus a “hoax.” As even the Trump-antagonistic Washington Post concedes, Trump clearly referred to Democratic attacks upon him as a hoax, and not the malady itself. The Biden attack ad also claims that Trump “eliminated the pandemic response team.” This is another frequent Democratic Party talking point, but as Tim Morrison, an alumnus of that very NSC staff, explains, the Trump White House refashioned, but did not dissolve, its pandemic response office. These falsehoods are employed in the service of the Democrats’ election-year narrative: That the president “let the virus spread unchecked across America.” No mention is ever made by the loyal opposition that Trump took decisive, early action by restricting travel from China. Or that Joe Biden himself assailed Trump for this move, accusing him of xenophobia.

Democrats also hold top National Institutes of Health official Anthony Fauci out as a model. But they quote him selectively. Dr. Fauci himself has verified that the president’s swift action to ban China travel “absolutely made a difference.”

The viral dishonesty flows not only from the pro-Biden super PAC, but also from the candidate himself. In the last Democratic debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders, he erroneously claimed that the administration turned down World Health Organization tests for the virus. Biden falsely asserted that the WHO “offered the testing kit. ... We refused it. We didn’t want to buy them.” In fact, there was no such offer at all, and the WHO does not even produce tests. As FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn stated, “The WHO does not have its own test that it is distributing globally. It has only posted on its website protocols from some test developers, including our own CDC.”

Biden spread more coronavirus propaganda when he declared in a March 12 tweet that “a wall will not stop the coronavirus.” I guess that’s a dig at Trump’s border wall. But it’s a cheap shot, and an odd one to make at this time: Social barriers are literally the entire point of a quarantine. Whether a closed door to an apartment or a well-guarded national border, they emphatically stop viruses.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also indulged in brazen partisanship, manipulating the virus calamity into a political weapon against the president. In a CNN interview Sunday, she actually blamed him for American deaths, claiming “his denial at the beginning was deadly. … As the president fiddles, people are dying.” In response, Sen. Lindsey Graham described her hyperbole as “the most shameful, disgusting statement by any politician in modern history.”

Well, that’s saying a lot, senator, but the record shows that it was the speaker, rather than the president, who was in denial. After all, she took a weeklong spring break away from Washington, adjourning the House of Representatives in the middle of the crisis. As the president and his team worked around the clock to fashion a disaster bailout bill of unprecedented proportions with the Senate leadership of both parties, Pelosi was ensconced in San Francisco. When she returned, she threw a monkey wrench into the legislative levers by demanding a wish list of liberal pet projects, and then took credit for engineering the whole thing.   

America faces a difficult month ahead. Health concerns have suddenly changed our way of life in marked ways and forced agonizing physical separations for communities and families across our land. With the entire month of April now designated for continued protective restrictions by the administration, the pronounced economic sacrifices will test the will of our people and enterprises. In such a dire time, Democratic leaders like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi need to set aside prevarications and partisan pandering. If they cannot help America pull together at a time like this, then they should remain quiet – or summarily be pushed aside by voters in November.  

Steve Cortes is a contributor to RealClearPolitics, national spokesman for the America First PAC, and host of his own Salem Radio Show on AM560 Chicago. His Twitter handle is @CortesSteve.



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