An encouraging sign of the times: there's less political debate about whom to blame for the failed U.S. response to COVID-19 and more political debate about whom to credit for recent U.S. progress in the response to the pandemic.
Last week, for example, Donald Trump issued a pitiful statement, practically begging the public to thank him for the vaccines that are now reaching Americans' shoulders in large numbers.
The former president's plea roughly coincided with President Joe Biden's White House address last week, in which he implicitly criticized his predecessor. "A year ago, we were hit with a virus that was met with silence and spread unchecked," Biden explained. "Denials for days, weeks, then months that led to more deaths, more infections, more stress, and more loneliness."
This didn't sit well with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who pushed back a day later during a Fox News appearance. The senator argued, "[F]or there to be no ability to share credit on such a day, when we were recognizing 520,000 Americans had lost their lives, thank God for the genius of the Trump administration, who delivered 300 million doses ready to be put in arms on Day 1."
If this sounds bizarre, there are two good reasons for that. First, as Tim Scott really ought to know, the Trump administration did not deliver 300 million doses of the vaccine, ready to be put in arms on Day 1. As Vox's Aaron Rupar explained:
According to a recent fact check by Kaiser Health News, Trump had contracts in place for enough vaccine to vaccinate 200 million Americans when he left office, but that's not the same as "doses ready to be put in arms." Furthermore, beyond vaccinating health care workers and people in assisted-living facilities, Trump's plan to get them in arms did little more than offer thoughts and prayers to the states.
In fact, as of right now, we still don't have 300 million vaccine doses ready to be put in arms. We're on track to reach that point eventually, but the South Carolinian's insistence the Trump administration reached this goal months ago is deeply odd.
But just as important is the conflict between the first part of Tim Scott's sentence and the second. Take another look at the senator's quote: he wants Biden to share credit with his predecessor on a day in which we honored the half-million Americans who died from the coronavirus, while in the next breath, thanking God for the "genius" of the Trump administration.
By any fair measure, Donald Trump and his team failed spectacularly in the response to the pandemic -- including failing to craft a credible plan for vaccine distribution. I can appreciate why Republicans are reluctant to credit a Democratic White House for recent progress, but if the former administration had demonstrated "genius" abilities worthy of celebration, the current death toll probably wouldn't stand at over 536,000 Americans.