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Image: Donald Trump
Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on April 19, 2020.Patrick Semansky / AP file

Revisiting Mike Pence's premature victory lap, six months later

Mike Pence's premature victory lap on the coronavirus response was a mess when it was published six months ago today. It's vastly worse now.


It was six months ago today when Vice President Mike Pence, in his capacity as the head of the White House's coronavirus taskforce, wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. The message was simple: thanks to Donald Trump, "we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy."

We've revisited the Indiana Republican's pitch from time to time, but at the half-year mark, it's striking to see just how much conditions in the United States have deteriorated since Pence took his premature victory lap.

"While talk of an increase in cases dominates cable news coverage, more than half of states are actually seeing cases decline or remain stable."

Most states are seeing increases in coronavirus cases.

"Cases have stabilized over the past two weeks, with the daily average case rate across the U.S. dropping to 20,000 -- down from 30,000 in April and 25,000 in May."

Over the last week, we've seen totals of over 200,000 cases per day -- roughly 10 times the figure Pence bragged about six months ago today.

"[I]n the past five days, deaths are down to fewer than 750 a day, a dramatic decline from 2,500 a day a few weeks ago -- and a far cry from the 5,000 a day that some were predicting.

The fatality totals recently reached an all-time high, with daily death tolls reaching 3,000 last week. Late last week, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield conceded, "We are in the timeframe now that probably for the next 60 to 90 days we're going to have more deaths per day than we had at 9/11 or we had at Pearl Harbor."

What's more, with the total number of American fatalities topping 3000,000, we've easily crossed Trump's own threshold for failure.

"The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different. The truth is, whatever the media says, our whole-of-America approach has been a success."

Within weeks of Pence's boast about the absence of a second wave, the number of U.S. coronavirus cases reached a brutal second peak that was even higher than the totals from April. And though that subsided in time, we're now seeing a third peak that's even more drastic than the first two.

It's likely that Pence and others on Team Trump, when crafting the WSJ op-ed in June, felt genuine optimism. They were willing to write the opinion piece, and put the vice president's credibility on the line, because they assumed it wouldn't be easily discredited soon after.

They were wrong. To borrow Pence's phrasing, the truth, whatever the White House says, is that the administration's approach has been a failure.