On Saturday, Barack Obama criticized the government’s response to the coronavirus during an online commencement speech.
“More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” Obama said. “A lot them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”
In 2009, Barack Obama played golf the same day that his administration declared H1N1 a public health emergency.
Obama’s criticisms of the response to coronavirus are laughable—especially considering who’s doing the criticizing. Obama’s response to the H1N1 pandemic was so bad that his former Ebola czar, Ron Klain, admitted that Obama botched it.
“It is purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the great mass casualty events in American history,” Klain said of H1N1 in 2019. “It had nothing to do with us doing anything right. It just had to do with luck. If anyone thinks that this can’t happen again, they don’t have to go back to 1918, they just have to go back to 2009, 2010, and imagine a virus with a different lethality, and you can just do the math on that.” [Emphasis added]
The Obama administration utterly failed to contain the H1N1 virus, which infected 61 million Americans, but had only a .02 percent case fatality rate. So, despite their inability to contain the virus (they didn’t close travel with other countries or implement social distancing) the widespread infection resulted in the deaths of 12,649 Americans over the course of the year. The biggest failure of the Obama administration during that pandemic was their failure to produce enough doses of the vaccine to prevent the spread of the disease. They had predicted in the summer of 2009 that they would have 160 million H1N1 vaccine doses by late October but ended up with fewer than 30 million. A study by Purdue University scholars determined that this failure cost lives because the H1N1 vaccine wouldn’t arrive until it was too late. The study determined that the CDC’s planned vaccination campaign would “likely not have a large effect on the total number of people ultimately infected by the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus.”
But Obama didn’t just botch one pandemic, he botched two.
Obama’s failure to adequately respond to the 2014 Ebola pandemic contributed to it it becoming the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded. The response was 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 waited seven months after the outbreak began to appoint an Ebola czar (Ron Klain) to coordinate the administration’s global efforts to contain the pandemic.
Obama’s failures didn’t end there. The Strategic National Stockpile was depleted of N95 respirator masks and ventilators after the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, but Obama never did anything about it. Obama even ignored three government reports warning that the stockpile needed to be replenished. He had seven years to do something but didn’t. It’s almost like he wasn’t even “pretending to be charge.”
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