Donald Trump caught Covid-19, and after sophisticated treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, went back to the White House after a few days and told Americans there was nothing to fear.
Everything would be fine. When the election was over, "covid, covid, covid," would simply disappear.
But that cavalier assessment was wrong, and both Trump and the American people are paying the price. Now, his own campaign is saying that the pandemic was directly responsible for Trump losing his bid for reelection -- not the fraud that he has falsely alleged to this day.
That was the conclusion of an internal "autopsy" of Trump's campaign by its own pollster, Tony Fabrizio, reported today by The Washington Post.
The document shows that voters in 10 key states rated the pandemic as their top issue, and Joe Biden won far higher marks on the coronavirus than did Trump, causing Trump to lose support in the key demographic groups that he needed, The Post reported.
"The internal report cuts against Trump’s claims that the election was stolen from him and that Biden could not have fairly beaten him — and mirrors what many Trump campaign officials said privately for months," the article said.
It also will not be helpful to Trump's case when the Senate's impeachment trial begins next week if the "election fraud" claims are part of his defense. His own campaign admitted that fraud was not to blame, that Trump could not have won, and that the reason he lost was his failed response to the pandemic from the very beginning.
Trump Must Bear Blame
Tragically, Trump's irresponsible and inept approach to the coronavirus from its inception in the U.S. has had far greater consequences than simply costing Donald Trump the election, even including his "stop the steal" refusal to accept defeat and the resulting deadly January 6 attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which a week later resulted in his second impeachment.
Covid 19 has taken the lives of 443,000 Americans with over 26.4 million cases reported as of today, and Trump can fairly be blamed for thousands of those deaths.
That's the conclusion of a study conducted by Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness and reported by The Washington Post October 23, when the death toll stood at 222,000. That study estimated that between 130,000 and 210,000 Covid-19 deaths could have been avoided had the U.S. response been as effective as other nations.
And, that was when the death toll stood at almost precisely half of what it is today. So it would be reasonable to double that unnecessary death toll figure to between 260,000 and 420,000 souls as of today.
The study pointed out, as The Post reported, that in South Korea, where the first infection was detected on the same day as the U.S., there we're only 0.85 deaths per 100,000 residents because of the quickly imposed containment measures taken by that country, including a robust testing regimen that helped halt the virus' progression.
As of Oct. 23, had the U.S. taken similar action, the estimated death toll would have been just 2,800 people, or through extrapolation, roughly 5,600 today compared to the 443,000 who have perished.
Unfair to Blame Trump?
My critics will say it's not fair to blame Trump for all of those deaths.
Who was it who said the virus would go away when the weather warmed, so nothing really needed to be done?
Who was it who refused to wear a mask or encourage others to do so?
Who was it who held rally after rally and event after event without masks and social distancing required, resulting in super-spreader events and, worse, bolstering the attitudes of Trump supporters that it was all a hoax, as he repeatedly claimed?
Who was it who turned wearing a mask -- or not wearing one -- into a political statement, suggesting it showed weakness?
Who was it who refused to establish a national strategy to contain the pandemic and instead said it was up to the states, and then refused to provide the money needed so states and local governments could act?
The list goes on. The refusal to acknowledge, to deal, to focus, to manage, to be responsible, to lead, is inexcusable and it's no wonder that the resulting distrust was responsible above all others for his defeat.
The Post said another team at Columbia University estimated that delays in implementing a national containment strategy might have led to 36,000 additional deaths.
"If we just wore these masks,” Biden said during a debate with Trump, “the president's own advisers have told him we could save 100,000 lives."
But Trump would not go there. Millions of his supporters refused, some causing violent confrontations over state and local mask wearing requirements as he egged them on.
And Now, Today...
The death toll continues to rise, and the Biden administration is now saddled with the challenge of picking up the pieces.
After being sworn into office, the new president quickly issued 15 executive orders focused on the pandemic, including actions requiring the wearing of masks on federal facilities and public transportation; accelerating manufacturing and delivery of supplies for vaccination, testing and personal protective equipment; creating additional vaccination sites; protecting worker health and safety; ensuring an equitable pandemic response and recovery, and more.
On top of that, President Biden's Chief of Staff, Ron Klain has said the Trump administration had no real plan for distributing the vaccine across the nation, calling the former administration's rollout "chaotic." So, now the new administration is working to remedy that.
Trump wants credit for developing the vaccine at record speed. But his "Operation Warp Speed" initiative to get the vaccine into people's arms has been sluggish and disorganized.
So, when you hear a Trump supporter continue claiming that the election was fraudulent and four more years were stolen from Trump, you can simply point to the Trump campaign's own words.
No, it was not. It was Trump's own fault. He bungled the coronavirus pandemic and that cost him the election. Even worse, that bungling has cost hundreds of thousands of American lives, and counting. And we are still paying the price.