By Pence's own standards, Trump's pandemic response is failing

It was four months ago when Pence, took a victory lap with an op-ed on the administration's pandemic response. It was a mess at the time. It's worse now.
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

It was four months ago 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 vice president's pitch from time to time, but it's striking to see just how much conditions in the United States have deteriorated since Pence took a June 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."

NBC News reported yesterday, four months after the vice president's op-ed included this boast, that confirmed coronavirus cases are currently climbing in nearly every state, with several states recently reaching record highs.

"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."

The daily average case rate across the U.S. is over 55,000 -- nearly triple the number Pence bragged about four months ago -- and on Friday, the total number of new cases topped 70,000, which is a tally unseen in several months.

"[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.

While it's true that fatality totals have improved since the staggering heights seen in April, the daily average for Americans dying of COVID-19 is actually higher now than the day the vice president's op-ed was published.

"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 in the midst of a third peak, with daily tallies unseen since August.

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 a phrase, the truth, whatever the White House says, is that the administration's approach has been a failure.