On Sunday, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes accused the president of perpetuating an “extended mass slaughter” of the American people in his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming that 2020 has been “the deadliest year in American history.”
Republican staffers “all worked together on a project that just let our people be led to the slaughter for months and months. Dying alone with no one around. Day after day,” he wrote in a now-deleted tweet.
Not only is labeling COVID deaths “mass slaughter” a baseless, morally repugnant smear of the president and Republicans on the hill, but the MSNBC host is factually wrong about this being the deadliest year in American history. An estimated 675,000 Americans died during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, another virus that swept across Europe and the States with no regard for public health policies or any country’s politics (spoiler: masks didn’t work then, either).
That would have been about 0.65 percent of the U.S. population at the time. Comparatively, COVID-related deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control are an order of magnitude less.
Hayes and many other Democrats are bitterly clinging to a myth: that if only Hillary Clinton had been president or, as Joe Biden claimed in September, if Trump had “done his job,” the virus would have passed over the United States, and “all the people would still be alive.” Yet every nation except Mongolia and Greenland recorded dozens to thousands of deaths no matter what they tried, even socialist systems with draconian lockdowns like Italy (684.63 deaths per million), Spain (830.57), and the United Kingdom (722.45). There was no way out of “the slaughter.”
Unless Biden, Hayes, and other detractors think Trump has been hiding a miracle cure or a highly effective vaccine from the outset of the pandemic, then claims that “all the people would still be alive” or that Trump’s team has “led our people to the slaughter” imply they believe complete suppression of COVID was possible.
But for a country as populous and interconnected as ours, that was utterly impossible. Every single nation aside from those two sparsely populated nations has failed at preventing COVID deaths—even New Zealand, which many of the administration’s critics tout as a success. Despite locking down its borders and instituting mandatory quarantine for all incoming travelers, lockdowns in some cities, and even manhunts to track down those who escaped from quarantine, the small archipelago of less than five million people surrounded on all sides by miles of ocean has had 25 deaths and nearly 2,000 cases.
The United States had no such option to “lock down” all incoming travel from abroad. Our extremely porous 2,000-mile southern border has allowed nearly 270,000 individuals across since March. That’s just counting those who’ve been apprehended. If a 2017 Department of Homeland Security estimate of 106,000 annual “got aways” is also applied to the duration of the pandemic, that’s around 340,000 people who would have needed to be turned away or put in quarantine (not including October’s data) so far, just on the southern border.
Tens of millions of inbound travelers to the United States would have to be tested and quarantined, too. We had neither the testing capacity, the room in secure facilities (even if hotels were used as in New Zealand), or the manpower to manage such a suppression effort before community spread took place. Put simply: if New Zealand couldn’t keep COVID out, there was no way the United States could, either.
Yet Biden’s backers, especially Kamala Harris, continue to maintain that Trump’s inaction or lack of “a plan” led Americans to be “slaughtered” by COVID, all while ignoring that at the outset of this pandemic, Biden opposed Trump’s beneficial closure of travel from China as “xenophobic.” Biden also claimed that any international travel restrictions would “not stop” the coronavirus.
Around the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was celebrating Chinese New Year in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Dr. Anthony Fauci was telling people that school closures and social distancing weren’t yet “absolutely necessary,” and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that “the epidemic is caused by coronavirus but the pandemic is caused by fear.”
If any American leaders are to be blamed for not “stopping COVID” in the United States, Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio should top the list for not halting all travel coming into the state with the second highest COVID death rate in the nation (far higher than anywhere in Europe) or out of it. Most of COVID’s U.S. spread was seeded from New York City.
By contrast, for all of the president’s meandering, sometimes bizarre monologues, the Trump administration has done a lot in the name of fighting the pandemic, from using the Defense Production Act to make personal protective equipment and ventilators, to sending a Navy hospital ship to New York to accommodate patient overflow, to overseeing Operation Warp Speed, the result of which will be the deployment of the first vaccine doses within a few months.
The double standard for Democrat politicians and predilection for believing the most idiotic fabrications about Trump’s handling of COVID is just evidence of how deeply Democrats revere the imperial presidency. They seem to see it as imbuing the office holder with almost god-like powers, as if a president can cause, as Barack Obama famously proclaimed, “the rise of the oceans [to begin] to slow and the planet [to begin] to heal.”
But presidents have no such powers. They are ordinary, fallible human beings, only as good as their character and the information they’re given. Hayes and his ilk would do well to remember it, and stop blaming every president they hate for deaths each reasonably tried to mitigate.