Juan Williams: Keep the spotlight on Trump's COVID failure

Juan Williams: Keep the spotlight on Trump's COVID failure
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Okay, let me answer the only talking point the Trump campaign has left.

The president’s team is demanding that critics tell them what Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris to host virtual Hollywood campaign event co-chaired by Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling Trump plans to accept Republican nomination from White House lawn US seizes four vessels loaded with Iranian fuel MORE could have done better than President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary MORE to prevent the deaths of 140,000 Americans and counting due to the coronavirus.

Obviously, this is a weak argument. You might even say it is a desperate argument.



Well, the real issue is Trump’s handling of the virus.

Already, 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of the virus, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll.

Another recent poll, from Fox News, had 56 percent of registered voters disapproving of Trump’s response to the virus.

In fact, voters have already concluded by a large margin — 17 percentage points in the Fox poll — that they trust Biden to do a better job of leading the nation through the pandemic.

Even on a personal basis, Fox reports that only 36 percent believe Trump has “the compassion to serve effectively as president.” By comparison, 56 percent say Biden is a compassionate man.

So the American people have reached a conclusion about the performance of the incumbent: Trump failed. And that has big political consequences because the coronavirus is the number one issue for voters.

By asking what Biden could have done differently, Trump’s campaign is trying to change a national conversation that has already reached a conclusion.

They are kicking up a storm of distraction by arguing that even if Trump dropped the ball, where is the evidence that Biden might have done any better?

Biden answered the question last week.

While Trump was promising that “like a miracle – it will disappear,” Biden said he would have to work — improving testing, tracing people who had spread the disease and using the Defense Production Act to get U.S. companies to produce tests, masks and equipment for hospitals.

Trump did not do those things, Biden said, but instead “raised the white flag.”

“He has no idea what to do,” Biden told MSNBC host Joy Reid last week. “Zero.” Trump’s only concern is winning the election, Biden said.

“And it doesn’t matter how many people get COVID or die from COVID,” Biden added, “because [Trump] fears that if the economy is strapped as badly as it is today…he is going to be in trouble [in November].”

Let’s take Biden’s answer with a grain of salt, since he is running against Trump.

But what do political reporters — people watching every day, the judges at ringside — think of how Trump is handling the virus?

After interviewing Trump for an hour, Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceOvernight Defense: Appeals court rules male-only draft is constitutional | Pentagon dismisses 'unserious' post-election debate Chris Wallace: Trump struggling with attacks on 'shape-shifter' Harris Pentagon dismisses 'unserious' debate over potential military involvement in any post-election dispute MORE of Fox said Trump’s White House still “doesn’t seem to have a handle” on the pandemic.

That is damning given that Trump was warned about the potency of the virus to kill in January.

Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperJuan Williams: Keep the spotlight on Trump's COVID failure Chicago mayor: We can't let federal officials 'play police' in our city Coronavirus testing czar: Nobody on task force 'afraid to bring up anything' to Trump MORE of CNN offered a similarly negative judgment. Trump’s “refusal to lead has a body count,” as in the number of people who have died from the virus.

How does Dr. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci defends voting by mail if 'you don't want to take the chance' in person Museum unveils new Fauci bobbleheads after previous edition sells out Marlee Matlin: 'Unfathomable' that White House doesn't have sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings MORE, who has seen Trump’s response from the beginning, judge Trump’s performance?

“When you look at the numbers, obviously, we’ve got to do better,” Fauci told The Atlantic a week ago. “We’ve got to almost reset this and say ‘Okay, let’s stop this nonsense’… So rather than these games people are playing, let’s focus on that.”

These judgments that Trump failed are hard to refute.

It is a fact that in January Trump told CNBC he had no worry about the coronavirus because “we have it totally under control…we have it under control. It is going to be just fine.”


In late February, Trump again steered the country wrong by tweeting that the virus is “very much under control in the USA…Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

In March, as the situation grew worse, Trump blamed “Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party,” for trying to “inflame the CoronaVirus situation.”

Then in mid-March he declared, “I’ve felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” Later in March, he announced the virus would be gone in time for Americans to gather at church for Easter services in mid-April.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSusan Collins asks postmaster general to address delays of 'critically needed mail' Trump says he'd sign bill funding USPS but won't seek changes to help mail voting On The Money: Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief agreement | Weekly jobless claims fall below 1 million for first time since March | Trump says no Post Office funding means Democrats 'can't have universal mail-in voting' MORE (D-Calif.) now goes so far as to call the disease the “Trump Virus.”

“If he had said months ago, ‘Let’s wear masks…let’s socially distance’ instead of rallies…then more people would have followed his lead. He’s the President of the United States,” Pelosi told CNN, in explaining her negative judgment of Trump.

That’s why the question of what anyone else might have done is a useless parlor game. Its only purpose, as conceived by a desperate Trump campaign, is to get people to ignore the president’s costly failure.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.