Oh, how we remember. We remember the half-million Americans dead; we remember the superspreader events, the mega-rallies and the White House gatherings hosted by the then-president; we remember his disregard of his own health experts and his mockery of masks. We remember the White House press briefing when Trump said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to wear a mask was “voluntary. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”
And we remember that Trump himself contracted the coronavirus and was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center while the country discussed whether Vice President Mike Pence should begin rehearsing the presidential oath. We remember, too, the many blunders and endless disinformation emanating from the White House while infection and death rates steadily rose unabated. And, not least, we recall Trump’s ruminations on the possible curative benefits of bleach injections.
Apparently, the former president feels he’s not receiving enough credit — or attention — for the vaccines currently going into 2 million American arms a day under President Biden. What with Twitter and Facebook now beyond his reach, Trump has no audience to satisfy his insatiable appetite for praise and applause. “Thank Trump” has been trending this week on Twitter, however, suggesting that his supporters have taken up the cause. On Fox News, Sean Hannity has said that Biden should call Trump and thank him.
Therefore, whereas and henceforth, let it be resolved that Donald J. Trump created an exemplary public-private partnership, propelled by a $14 billion federal investment under the rubric Operation Warp Speed, to create vaccines and treatment in record time. For this, he deserves credit and, if you wish, praise and applause.
It’s just too bad that a vast number of his constituents aren’t planning to take advantage of the vaccines and have refused throughout the pandemic to wear a mask or to take other precautionary measures. These aren’t necessarily the same people who launched an attack on the Capitol in January, but a Venn diagram likely would reveal some overlap. Not surprisingly, Trump has said or done little to enlighten them about the need to get with the program.
When all other living former presidents — Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter — recently joined an Ad Council campaign urging skeptics to get the vaccine, Trump was notably missing. Even though both he and Melania Trump received vaccinations in January at the White House, no be-like-me photos were shown that might have encouraged others to do the same. A PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll released Thursday found that 41 percent of Republicans — and 49 percent of GOP men — said they wouldn’t get vaccinated. By comparison, about 87 percent of Democrats surveyed said they would or already had received the vaccine. Only 11 percent of Democrats said they wouldn’t get the shot.
Some people don’t like any kind of injection or, in this case, view the vaccine as more hurried than miraculous. Others apparently would rather risk contracting the virus than help Biden meet his ambitious goals. During his first national address since Inauguration Day, on Thursday night, Biden announced that he will direct states to make every adult eligible for vaccination by May 1. He predicted that July 4, 2021, would be a day to gather and celebrate not only the nation’s independence but also its independence from the deadly virus.
Biden’s footnote of caution that variants or other circumstances could spoil the party was essential. But it didn’t dampen his overall tone of hope mixed with empathy for those suffering or lost to covid. While his dignity, humility and sincerity were balm for the soul, they were also plainly irksome to hard-right diehards devoted to Trumpism at any cost.
Alas, there seems to be no antidote for snake oil.