Trump attempts to pass blame to Obama administration for shortcomings in coronavirus response

(WASHINGTON) — In his primetime address to the nation Wednesday night, President Donald Trump called on the nation to unify and put politics aside in the face of the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

“We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family,” Trump said Wednesday. “Acting with compassion and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow citizens and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before.”

But in the days since that address, Trump has launched a tirade of political attacks and specifically sought to target his likely general election challenger former Vice President Joe Biden over his handling of the swine flu epidemic in 2009.

“Sleepy Joe Biden was in charge of the H1N1 Swine Flu epidemic which killed thousands of people,” the president said Thursday night in a tweet, even as the coronavirus has yet to fully run its course and top health officials have warned will get worse before it gets better.

Sleepy Joe Biden was in charge of the H1N1 Swine Flu epidemic which killed thousands of people. The response was one of the worst on record. Our response is one of the best, with fast action of border closings & a 78% Approval Rating, the highest on record. His was lowest!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2020

The president’s attack is faulty on multiple fronts, however.

First, his claim that Biden was in charge is inaccurate. Former President Barack Obama never tapped Biden to run the government’s response to the virus, as Trump has with Vice President Mike Pence on coronavirus.

And while it may be true that thousands of Americans died from the H1N1 virus, it was a different virus. Two cannot simply be compared The coronavirus is also understood to be more deadly and faster moving than the swine flu, according to health officials.

In a new set of tweets Friday, the president sought to further shift blame to the Obama administration, and even the nation’s leading public health institute for the federal government’s sluggish response in rolling out widespread testing.

…. Their response to H1N1 Swine Flu was a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now. The changes have been made and testing will soon happen on a very large scale basis. All Red Tape has been cut, ready to go!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2020

Trump has previously sought to falsely blame to the Obama administration by claiming they implemented a regulation on testing that was in fact never implemented. While the previous administration had proposed the idea of increasing oversight of medical testing to protect patients from being given tests they don’t need or from inaccurate results, they ultimately never acted on the proposal or made it a regulation.

But as the president seeks to shift blame away from his own administration, three years into his first term, the president makes no mention of his own administration’s fumbles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged that its initial test kits didn’t work as designed and that new tests were needed — delaying the government’s ability to detect and contain the spread of the virus.

It was also the Trump administration that disbanded a global health security unit that previously existed within the White House’s National Security Council.

Questioned last week if he’s rethought the usefulness of having a pandemic preparation office at the White House, the president responded that this is the sort of thing you “never really think is going to happen.”

He added, “Who would have thought?”

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