News & Politics

Barack Obama, Who Botched Two Pandemics, Criticizes Response to Coronavirus

Former President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Illinois campus in Urbana, Ill., on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (Stephen Haas//The News-Gazette via AP)

On Wednesday afternoon, Barack Obama criticized the Trump administration for failing to create a “coherent national plan” during the coronavirus pandemic.

“While we continue to wait for a coherent national plan to navigate this pandemic, states like Massachusetts are beginning to adopt their own public health plans to combat this virus––before it’s too late,” he tweeted.

The funniest thing about this tweet is that Barack Obama is the last person in the world who should be criticizing the federal response to a pandemic. Does he think we’ve forgotten he botched not one, but two pandemics? Barack Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services declared the H1N1 pandemic a public health emergency on April 29, 2009, but didn’t declare it a “national emergency” until October—two months after the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic, and after a thousand Americans had already died, and millions already infected. If you think he was taking the outbreak seriously at the time, the facts beg to differ.

On the same day that the public health emergency was declared he played golf. He didn’t close travel with Mexico to slow the spread of the virus because his administration was too concerned with the economic impact of doing so. Despite being less infectious than the coronavirus, H1N1 went on to infect 60.8 million Americans. Obama only declared H1N1 a national emergency a few short days before a congressional oversight panel slammed his administration’s response to the pandemic as inadequate and incomplete. “Our early warning and detection systems were inadequate,” Rep. Yvette Clark, (D-N.Y.) said of the government’s response. “Some key planning activities were incomplete; we didn’t have a good approach to provide health care under pandemic conditions; and levels of preparedness for pandemic influenza were unclear. Unfortunately, our failure to develop these systems, activities and policies cost us during the response.”

The Obama administration’s response to H1N1 was so inept that it was plagued by vaccine shortages—a failure that cost lives because the vaccine that was promised would come too late to help most Americans who would be infected.

Obama’s response to the Ebola pandemic was also so bad that The Hill described it as “an anchor threatening to sink the Obama presidency,” after both the White House and the CDC said that there were multiple “shortcomings” in the administration’s response. Obama didn’t appoint an Ebola czar to coordinate the administration’s global efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic until seven months after the outbreak began—which was after it became the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded. He also didn’t implement any travel bans from the West African countries most affected by the outbreak.

So, really… Obama should just shut up. The Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus has been a lot better than Obama’s response to H1N1 or Ebola.

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Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis

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Note: This post has been updated with extra information.