WSJ 11/26/21, by
President Biden may not recall what he said during a 2020 campaign debate last fall, but Americans should: “Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America.” At the time the U.S. had recorded 220,000 Covid deaths.
Covid deaths this year have now surpassed the toll in 2020 with 350,000 since Inauguration Day. It would seem that Mr. Biden has done no better than Donald Trump in defeating Covid despite the benefit of vaccines, better therapies, and more clinical experience. The left politicized Covid by holding Mr. Trump responsible for a disease that was always going to be hard to defeat.
“If the president had done his job, had done his job from the beginning, all the people would still be alive,” Mr. Biden said last fall. That was as false as anything Mr. Trump ever said, but most journalists and experts agreed with the basic premise: Mr. Trump had blood on his hands. The world’s top medical journals called for Mr. Trump’s defeat.
A New England Journal of Medicine editorial headlined “Dying in a Leadership Vacuum” called the Administration “dangerously incompetent” and declared “we should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.” No wonder so many conservatives don’t trust these health experts.
Mr. Biden famously promised “to shut down the virus, not the country,” and he accused Mr. Trump of having “no plan.” Mr. Trump did downplay the virus in the early part of 2020, and he needlessly put himself in the middle of almost every debate over the disease and possible treatments. Politically, he played into Mr. Biden’s hands. But his Administration accelerated the vaccines and therapies that Mr. Biden later took credit for.
Recall how Mr. Biden scoffed at Mr. Trump’s prediction that vaccines would be widely available in the spring. “The distribution of that vaccine will not occur until sometime beginning of the middle of next year to get it out, if we get the vaccine,” he said. Mr. Trump turned out to be right, and Mr. Biden largely followed the distribution plan his predecessors had put in place.
Because of the Trump Administration’s preparation, the U.S. led most of the world in vaccinations this spring. Yet Mr. Biden had no plan to deal with the large numbers of vaccine holdouts, other than to deride them. He missed his goal of getting 70% of adults vaccinated by July 4 but proclaimed victory nonetheless.
Then came the more transmissible Delta variant, which Mr. Biden also had no plan to deal with though it had been spreading around the world for months. He needlessly injected himself into fights in GOP states over mask mandates. By late September, daily deaths exceeded 2,000—more than twice as many as a year earlier.
Mr. Biden blamed GOP governors and unvaccinated conservatives. Yet blacks and young people have also shown reluctance to get vaccinated, and they don’t tend to be Republican. See Nicki Minaj and Kyrie Irving. Meantime, Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandates have further polarized the country.
Virus cases this fall have plunged in the South but are now rising in the Northeast and Midwest states with relatively high vaccination rates. Vaccines are helpful in preventing severe illness but aren’t as effective at preventing infections and transmission as health experts hoped. Booster shots will be needed to keep the virus at bay this winter, especially for seniors and people at high risk. Yet the Administration’s messaging on boosters has been inconsistent and often confusing.
We recount all this not to blame Mr. Biden for this year’s Covid deaths. The truth last year and this year is that the virus is impossible for any politician to control, much less eliminate. Mr. Biden used the illusion he could vanquish the virus to win election, and he is now paying a political price because he hasn’t.