Most Americans by now agree that President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been disastrous, or at the very least, sorely lacking.
A majority, 51 percent, disapprove of the response his administration has had in handling the spread of the disease in the U.S., with 46 percent approving, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll.
In other polls, Trump saw an increase in his approval rating on the issue in mid-March, but those numbers have dipped as people start to realize this president is in way over his head on the issue.
There are many ways to measure a president’s success rate (or failure rate, for that matter) when it comes to how they react to a crisis. But by Trump’s own standards, he’s been a failure.
Trump has tried to compare himself to his predecessor on many occasions during his tenure, and coronavirus is no different. Early in March, the current president tried to say former President Barack Obama had done a worse job than him in dealing with a similar crisis in 2009 — the H1N1 pandemic, otherwise known as Swine Flu.
On coronavirus response per Quinnipiac:
* Fauci: 78% approve, 7% disapprove
* Your state's governor: 74/24
* Cuomo: 59/17
* Trump: 46/51
* Congress: 44/46https://t.co/fgyuTrifDy
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) April 8, 2020
On March 13, Trump described Obama’s (and by proxy, former Vice President Joe Biden’s) response to that disease as a “full scale disaster” due to thousands who died of the disease. More recently on April 7, Trump described how 17,000 deaths from Swine Flu was a “debacle” for the previous administration.
Those numbers, it should be pointed out, are inaccurate: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that only about 12,500 Americans died of the Swine Flu, not 17,000.
Most Americans, too, gave Obama good marks on his administration’s response to the disease — six months after the pandemic reached the U.S., nearly 6-in-10 Americans said they approved of how the Obama White House handled things.
The current president does himself no favors by bringing up Obama’s response, particularly because the American people were, for the most part, happy with it, and are currently unhappy with Trump’s. Additionally, if the standard for a “debacle” of a response is the number of deaths that have occurred, Trump has admitted he has done poorly in his own crisis.
Over 20,000 Americans have so far died of coronavirus, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University as of 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday. That number is expected to triple by the end of August — and that estimate is only if social distancing measures remain in place until that time.
On Feb 26, @realDonaldTrump bragged we only had 15 cases and we were "going to be down close to zero soon."
On April 12, we have 530,000+ cases and 20,600+ deaths.
For months, Trump lied and downplayed this crisis and cost us valuable time – and lives.pic.twitter.com/MoFd8QiCs9
— Democratic Coalition (@TheDemCoalition) April 12, 2020
Trump is now pushing for reopening the nation’s economy (against the American people’s wishes, no less). If that happens, health experts warn, it might be a premature action, occurring before the dangers of the disease have been eliminated — putting more Americans’ lives at risk, and likely resulting in higher rates in loss of life.
That wouldn’t just make Trump’s response to the disease a debacle or a full-scale disaster — deaths the result of reopening the economy too early would effectively be a tragedy of his own making.
Trump has already failed to handle this crisis well. If he gets his way, he will do worse than fail — his actions will result in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Americans.
No amount of spin — comparisons to his predecessor or anything else — could change that fact.
Chris Walker is a freelance journalist based in Madison, Wisconsin, who focuses on news, politics, and analysis of world events. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, since 2005 Chris has reported on workers’ rights protests in Wisconsin, opined on four separate presidential elections and written on a number of other political subjects for a variety of national online publications.