Donald Trump’s critics could not make sense of his Wednesday announcement that Mike Pence is going to head the coronavirus response.
At a White House press conference, Donald Trump said the vice president “is going to be in charge” of the White House’s coronavirus containment efforts:
Mike will be working with the professionals, doctors and everybody else that is working. The team is brilliant. I spent a lot of time with the team the last couple weeks. But they are brilliant and we’re doing really well and Mike is going to be in charge and Mike will report back to me. But he has a certain talent for this.
Many were quick to point out Donald Trump did exactly what he criticized Obama for doing. In 2014, Trump tweeted:
Obama just appointed an Ebola Czar with zero experience in the medical area and zero experience in infectious disease control. A TOTAL JOKE!
Mike Pence has zero experience in the medical field. He’s a lawyer, not a doctor.
Trump didn’t pick him to be a medical or scientific authority, but to signal to the Republican Party’s evangelical conservative voters that they’d have a voice in his White House. Mike Pence has a negative record in dealing with a health crisis as governor of Indiana.
When an HIV outbreak rocked his state, Pence dragged his feet and stymied the government’s response. While facing intense pressure to authorize a needle exchange program to contain the outbreak, he waited before finally authorizing a minimal program. Many in the state still blame him for hampering the response.
Then there’s the unreal op-ed Mike Pence wrote in 2000 claiming cigarettes don’t kill. He wrote these words, in the year 2000:
Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.
But not to worry. Mike Pence won’t actually be in charge of the coronavirus response.
In an interview on MSNBC, Lanhee Chen, a former senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services, said:
The most important thing for the federal government going forward, for the president, for his administration– is to be crystal clear regarding who is leading this, who has the responsibility to execute on whatever the government’s strategy is, but more importantly, who if this goes wrong, is responsible.
That’s the real reason Trump is making a show of putting Mike Pence in charge of coronavirus. He won’t be making the decisions.
At the press conference, Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar clarified who’s really going to be in charge:
I’m still chairman of the task force.
But Trump can’t blame him if the government fumbles, or if coronavirus wreaks havoc despite the best response we could expect from HHS. Voters don’t know Azar. Mike Pence, however, is in the public mind.
If coronavirus becomes an election liability, Trump can transfer his “guilt” to Pence. That’s why presidents pick stooges like Pence, Biden, Gore, and Quayle for VP. They’re all fall guys. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope Pence comes out unscathed.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.
Last modified: June 24, 2020 1:04 AM UTC