Former President Donald Trump, from a policy perspective, was not a bad president.
The economy did very well during his time. Things were affordable — much more so than they are today under President Joe Biden. Trump kept the country strong, even with his own government being weaponized against him by vicious partisans. Despite his successes, though, Trump was a bull in a china shop — to the point that even members of his own party were working against him.
What’s more, all the good that the forty-fifth president had done in his first three years had been undone in his final year.
Trump presided over the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression and the worst response to a pandemic in decades. Under Trump’s leadership, the country went from banning travel to Asian and European states, locking down, and developing experimental mRNA vaccines in record time, to denying the pandemic was even a problem and embracing vaccine skepticism. All these things happened under Trump’s leadership.
The idea that Trump wants you to think his leadership during the pandemic was sound is, frankly, offensive. (And I say this as an original signatory to the “Scholars & Writers for Trump” letter in 2016).
Donald Trump’s Personnel Choices Come Back to Bite Him
The Trump administration collapsed through its shambolic response to COVID-19. Now, a fair argument can be made that no one was prepared for the pandemic. At the same time, though, Trump had spent years telling everyone that he was both the best possible person to be president as well as that he would hire the “very best” people to staff his administration.
From the outset, though, Trump’s presidency was plagued by staffing woes. In the context of COVID-19, the idea that President Trump’s reliance on Dr. Anthony Fauci was anything but detrimental is disturbing.
Bizarrely, the forty-fifth president, thinking his voters are rubes, has attempted to sell the “MAGA” crowd on the abject lie that his leadership during COVID-19 was better than even that of Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis.
That’s laughable, considering that it was Governor DeSantis who was among the first state leaders to defy former President Trump’s onerous COVID-19 restrictions, and reopen my state of Florida.
In fact, it has been reported that, when Trump was thinking about hiring former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as his chief of staff during the pandemic, Trump had Christie sit in on a phone call between DeSantis and Trump in which the forty-fifth president berated Florida’s governor for “making [Trump] look bad” by reopening the Sunshine State in defiance of Trump administration protocols.
And, by Trump administration protocols, I really mean Fauci protocols.
Even after the “15 days to slow the curve” fiasco that Dr. Fauci foisted upon a desperate and scared United States, Trump refused to question the man whose draconian medical edicts killed the American economy, caused irreparable harm to the young people of this country, and effectively killed the Trump administration.
Trump routinely would defend the doctor, even as Trump’s most diehard supporters chafed under the onerous COVID protocols.
By the time that Trump finally did abandon the Fauci-induced lockdowns and other extreme mitigation measures, the damage was done. Americans no longer trusted the government, not because Fauci was whispering menacing nothings into the great orange ears of the forty-fifth president, but because Trump had shot whatever credibility he may have had with the voters.
What Americans Needed, What Donald Trump Gave Them
During times of crisis, Americans want strong and decisive leadership.
Instead, they got indecisive leadership from Trump; they got a de facto abdication of their elected president, as he ceded his immense executive power to an unelected medical bureaucracy.
Trump understands that his COVID-19 legacy is horrific.
As a matter of deflection, he attempts to highlight his fast-tracking of the COVID-19 pandemic under the Operation Warp Speed paradigm. On paper, this should be something the former president is proud of.
Not since the Apollo moon program has the United States embarked upon such an ambitious undertaking.
Sadly, unlike the Apollo program, the pharmaceutical companies were not interested in helping the ordinary American better defend against the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China.
Instead, they just wanted to use most people as guinea pigs.
This fact was made abundantly clear when the head of Bayer’s Pharmaceutical Division, Stefan Oelrich, proudly described his firm as having taken “a leap” by funding mRNA vaccines. Oelrich told an audience of 6,000 fellow pharmaceutical professionals at the World Health Summit in Berlin, Germany, in 2021 that, “If we had surveyed two years ago in the public—‘Would you be willing to take a gene cell therapy and inject it into your body?’—we probably would have gotten a 95 percent refusal rate.”
But with policies, like Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, followed on the Biden Administration’s excessive vaccine mandates, that was precisely what we got here in the United States.
There has been a smattering of cases (with increasing regularity) since the vaccines became available to the public indicating that not everyone responds to the vaccines the same way. For most people, they seem to handle the injection fine.
For a significant minority, though, there are complications.
While this is true of most drugs administered today, the fact remains that most drugs that pharmaceutical companies make are not mandated to be taken by the state; one’s job is not on the line if one opts against taking those drugs.
That was not the case with the COVID-19 vaccine.
Ron DeSantis Was the Anti-COVID Legend
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic there was but one politician who led the United States in protecting his population from the ravages of the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China, as well as preserving his people’s freedoms.
That person was not President Donald Trump, who proved to be little more than a servant of the absurdly cautious medical bureaucracy. That individual leader was none other than Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, who is today running for the GOP presidential nomination.
Trump may think himself entitled to the Republican nomination. He may have a massive following. But he has yet to answer for his severe misjudgments about COVID-19, or for the egregious damage that Trump’s COVID-19 response policies did to the American people.
Neither DeSantis nor the rest of the Republican Party should let the forty-fifth president off the hook for his awful actions during COVID-19. The year 2020 was the single worst year of my life. It was one of the most painful years in our country’s long history. What’s more, it was the lowest point in Trump’s presidency.
Trump Isn’t a Great Leader
A truly great leader would have acknowledged his failures and tried to learn from them. Trump, however, appears intent on denying that anything was wrong while championing his purportedly perfect policies — all while he denigrates the one Republican leader who actually does have a solid record from the pandemic, Ron DeSantis.
Whoever you support in 2024, do not be fooled by the forty-fifth president’s lies. Trump failed us all during the pandemic. He wasn’t there when we needed him to be. And if he’s reelected again, and something similar happens under his watch, it is unlikely that he will lead us any better than he did during COVID-19.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (Encounter Books), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert occasionally serves as a Subject Matter Expert for various organizations, including the Department of Defense. He can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.