With less than two months before the presidential election, it’s undeniable that the coronavirus will be a key factor in many Americans’ votes. Joe Biden claims that he would show leadership as president in handling the pandemic, and claims that Trump has not.
But Biden’s claim doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. As Politico reported earlier this year, Biden’s efforts during the H1N1 pandemic were nothing to brag about. During the coronavirus pandemic, Biden’s attempts at Monday morning quarterbacking have been laughable. He has called for taking actions already taken by President Trump and then claimed them as his own suggestion Trump should heed.
But Joe Biden has also proven that he’d be a terrible leader to get us through the pandemic by the various flip-flops he’s made specifically related to COVID-19.
The following flip-flops show that Biden’s decision-making when it comes to pandemic response is entirely driven by politics, proving that had he been in charge, he’d have been responsible for not only more COVID-19 deaths, but for economic and constitutional crises.
In each of these instances below, Biden’s reckless original positions flipped to align with President Trump’s position or action.
His mask mandate
Joe Biden called for a national mask mandate back in August, claiming (without evidence) that it would save thousands of lives. “So let’s just institute a mass mandate nationwide starting immediately. And we will save — the estimates are that we will save 40,000 lives in the next three months once that is done.”
Joe Biden calls for nationwide mask mandate.
— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) August 13, 2020
“He wants the federal government to issue a sweeping new mandate to law-abiding citizens, wants the president of the United States with the mere stroke of a pen to order over 300 million American citizens to wear a mask for a minimum of three straight months,” Trump said in response to Biden. “He does not identify what authority the president has to issue such a mandate or how federal law enforcement could possibly enforce it or why we would be stepping on governors throughout our country, many of whom have done a very good job and they know what is needed.”
Biden clearly figured out that Trump was absolutely correct because Biden backtracked weeks later. “But here’s the deal, the federal government — there’s a constitutional issue whether federal government could issue such a mandate. I don’t think constitutionally they could, so I wouldn’t issue a mandate.”
How exactly did Biden go from claiming his mandate would save 40,000 lives to saying he wouldn’t issue a nationwide mandate? What does that say about his ability to lead in a pandemic?
Shutting down the economy again
One day after he originally proposed a mask mandate, Biden really put his foot in his mask-covered mouth when he said that he would shut down the economy again.
“I would shut it down; I would listen to the scientists,” Biden said in response to a question from ABC’s World News Tonight anchor David Muir. “I will be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus.”
Biden blames job losses on Trump, though the global pandemic shutdown did it.
Now Biden says he’d shut the whole country down AGAIN … just when Trump has the economy coming back.
Biden has forfeited any right to talk about the economic situation.pic.twitter.com/nLeXANhP1v
— Tim Murtaugh – Download the Trump 2020 app today! (@TimMurtaugh) August 22, 2020
President Trump naturally took Biden to task over the comments, and Biden eventually flip-flopped on it.
“There’s going to be no need, in my view, to be able to shut down the whole economy,” Biden said during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, earlier this month. “I got asked by David Muir a question if I was asked to shut everything down, I took that has a generic question, am I going to follow the science?”
Sounds more like Joe Biden would be listening to his political advisors and polling.
The China travel ban
Perhaps the most significant and consequential flip-flop Biden has made during the pandemic is his flip-flop on the travel ban with China.
In the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, President Trump took aggressive action to protect the United States. His most controversial was the ban on travel with China, which received almost universal condemnation from the left, including Joe Biden.
“In moments like this, this is where the credibility of a president is most needed, as he explains what we should and should not do,” he said during a campaign rally. “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia, hysterical xenophobia, to uh, and fearmongering.”
Joe Biden opposed the China travel restrictions wisely put in place by President Trump in January – restrictions that health experts credit with slowing the spread of coronavirus & saving lives.
If Biden had been in charge, more Americans would have contracted the virus faster. pic.twitter.com/yDXRYl6lOk
— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) March 12, 2020
He reiterated that sentiment in a tweet the following day:
We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) February 1, 2020
A month after the ban was instituted, New York Times science reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. noted that the Trump administration had taken “aggressive measures like barring entry to non-Americans who were recently in China and advising Americans not to go to China or South Korea,” and that this strategy worked, despite the fact that the World Health Organization officially opposes travel and trade restrictions, and “reiterated that even as it declared the epidemic a global emergency on Jan. 30.”
Republican Senator Tom Cotton said in February that “The single most consequential and valuable thing done to stop this virus from already spreading throughout the United States was when President Trump decided to shut down travel to China,” in January. He also acknowledged that “the so-called experts who opposed the decision at the time” eventually admitted that it “bought valuable time to prevent the spread of this virus in the United States.”
The World Health Organization also admitted Trump’s travel ban saved lives in the United States.
It wasn’t until April, well after other countries followed suit and experts had agreed Trump’s travel ban saved lives that Joe Biden finally changed his tune on the travel ban. “Joe Biden supports travel bans that are guided by medical experts, advocated by public health officials, and backed by a full strategy,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, told CNN. “Science supported this ban, therefore he did too,” she claimed in a stunning attempt to rewrite history.
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Matt Margolis is the author of the new book Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trump, and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis