Joe Biden’s Coronavirus Problem
Joe Biden has a problem. As the opposition party’s presumptive nominee for president, Biden has an obligation to the country to provide it with an alternative in November. This means criticizing Trump where he believes it necessary, especially on Trump’s handling of the current pandemic, but also showing what he would do differently should he be elected, all while trying not to re-write history.
He is perfectly willing to condemn Trump’s record of being unprepared, but has thus far avoided specifics as to what he would have done. When asked he dutifully repeats “listen to the experts” or “listen to the scientists.” That is not a policy argument, it’s a process one and the problem for Biden is that the experts and scientists would he would be working with should he become president refuse to play the Democrats’ hindsight game.
Dr. Anthony Fauci does not seem like the kind of person to get agitated easily, but he has repeatedly rebuked the media for trying to drive a wedge between him and Trump and spoke well of him. He’s not going to give Biden a sound bite for a 30 second commercial. And Americans overwhelming approve of Fauci. If he says something science related, Americans trust him.
Hindsight could also backfire on Biden. The fight against the virus has been compared to a war. During a war, the government’s powers necessarily increase, but more importantly, the longer the war goes on the more important public support becomes. There was no public support for lockdowns in February and his allegation that Trump shutdown the pandemic response office set up under Obama is dubious at best.
People may forget that before the NBA suspended its season and the rest of the sports world followed, the state of Washington issued crowd size controls which led to discussions between the Seattle Mariners and MLB that the team would play home games in Arizona, but everybody else could continue as normal. Even a few weeks before that, would a President Biden have recommended the Super Bowl be canceled or played in front of an empty stadium? No, of course he wouldn’t. To give context to the environment at that point in time, the same news media that now blasts Trump as asleep at the wheel, was condemning the task force as being too white and too male.
Furthermore, Biden’s power as president over this matter would be limited. Despite the fact that everybody’s opinion on who has the power to shut down and re-open the economy seems to shift every five minutes, the truth is that city and state governments constitutionally have far more power over the citizenry than the feds. This does not mean that some, such as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, have not abused that power and become petty dictators, but that’s another article for another day.
That means the other areas for Biden to have an impact in would be domestic production orders under the Defense Production Act — which may be a moot point by November depending on what happens between now and then — , throwing more money at things — which would hardly be an original idea — , and foreign affairs. He could argue for a more libertarian approach to the FDA and CDC given how bureaucratic red tape inhibited early testing, but that would seem to contradict his pledge to have the most progressive presidency since FDR.
Would Joe Biden have issued the order restricting travel from China? Biden says he agrees with it now, but would he have issued it when Trump did? Probably not. In fact, Biden tweeted at the time, that “We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering.” When would President Biden have restricted travel from Europe? When Trump did, EU leaders condemned the move.
How would Joe Biden deal with China after this? Does he agree with the move to strip funding from the World Health Organization for it’s role in the pandemic by licking the CCP’s boots. Does he think Tedros Adhanom should be compelled to resign?
If he is willing to relentlessly attack the Chinese government, the WHO, and Trump, he will have a higher chance of winning and specific policy plans will not matter that much. If he claims that Trump is just an incompetent clown who is scapegoating the poor WHO and CCP, all while ignoring that the whole world and not just the U.S. is having trouble with this virus, then he deserves to lose.