Right out of the chute, President Biden made a big blunder. Just hours after taking the oath of office, the new president and his family headed over to the Lincoln Memorial for a little nighttime photo-op.
It was his first (but certainly not his last) do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do moment as president.
Remember, Mr. Biden had just signed an executive order mandating the wearing of COVID-protection masks on all federal property. But the president and others posing for pictures were seen without masks, standing shoulder to shoulder.
Asked about the hypocrisy, new press secretary Jen Psaki defended the president as only a White House flack can do.
“He was celebrating an evening of a historic day in our country, and certainly he signed the mask mandate because it was a way to send a message to the American public about the importance of wearing masks, how it can save tens of thousands of lives. We take a number of COVID precautions, as you know, here, in terms of testing, social distancing, mask-wearing ourselves, as we do, every single day, but I don’t know that I have more for you on it than that.”
They never “have more,” do they?
And that was just Day 1.
Two days later, Mr. Biden — who throughout the campaign pledged to swiftly “shut down the virus,” claiming President Trump had no comprehensive plan — said what he really thinks: Nothing can be done to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the coming months, no matter what Americans do.
“If we fail to act, there will be a wave of evictions and foreclosures in the coming months as this pandemic rages on, because there’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months,” Mr, Biden said.
It wasn’t until Tuesday — Day 6 — that Mr. Biden clarified what he meant.
“Well, I’m going to shut down the virus, but not — I never said I’d do it in two months. I said it took a long time to get here; it’s going take a long time to beat it. And so we have millions of people out there who are — who have the virus.”
“It’s going to take time. It’s going to take a heck of a lot of time,” he said. How long?
“We’re still going to be dealing with this issue in the — in early fall.” That’s October.
Wait, there’s more. Mr. Biden trotted out a slew of new White House and administration officials to declare that Mr. Trump’s plan, as well as Operation Warp Speed, were disasters. The mainstream media snapped it up hook, line and sinker. “Biden inheriting nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan and must start ‘from scratch,’ sources say,” CNN wrote in a breathless headline.
Xavier Becerra, Mr. Biden’s nominee to run Health and Human Services, said the same day it’s all Mr. Trump’s fault. “The plane is in a nosedive. And we’ve got to pull it up.” Parroting Mr. Biden’s words, he said: “And you’re not going to do that overnight.”
There’s still more. In mid-December, Mr. Biden declared that he would see to it that the U.S. delivered 1 million shots a day for his first 100 days. But here’s the thing: Mr. Trump’s program was already doing that.
“Vaccinations in the U.S. began Dec. 14 with health-care workers, and so far 17.2 million shots have been given, according to a state-by-state tally by Bloomberg and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the last week, an average of 912,497 doses per day were administered,” Bloomberg reported Wednesday.
In fact, the U.S. hit 1.6 million doses on the very day Mr. Biden took office.
Mr. Biden blasted the media when he took his first question from a reporter after signing some executive orders. An Associated Press reporter, Zeke Miller, asked Mr. Biden whether his target should be set higher than 1 million a day, noting “that’s basically where the U.S. is right now.”
“When I announced it, you all said it’s not possible,” Mr. Biden said angrily. “C’mon, give me a break, man.”
Then on Monday, Mr. Biden was asked by Fox News’ Peter Doocy why he was saying the U.S. would hit a million vaccines per day in three weeks when we’re already there (for the record, the U.S. tallied 1.3 million on Jan. 21 and 1.4 million on Jan. 22).
“No, I think we’ll get there before that. I said, ‘I hope …’ — I misspoke. I hope we’ll be able to increase as we go on until we get to the million-five a day. That’s my ex- — my hope,” Mr. Biden said.
But here’s the question: If the Trump operation was such a disaster, how was it able to hit Mr. Biden’s numbers even before he came in?
The answer: The plane wasn’t “in a nosedive.” Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, refuted the claims, saying, “We certainly are not starting from scratch because there is activity going on in the distribution.”
Sure, it’s been less than a week since Mr. Biden took office (and another thing for the record, more than 20,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 since noon on Jan. 20). But the new president vowed he would bring a truly comprehensive plan to fight the virus, and so far, it’s been an awful lot of stumbling and bumbling.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.
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