Biden, Trump both missed the chance to send powerful vaccine messages
President Joe Biden is getting generally positive reviews for his primetime speech on Thursday regarding the vaccination rollouts. In general, the news and statistics surrounding COVID-19 — cases down, vaccinations up and states and counties reducing restrictions — has been good.
But one of the most covered elements of the speech comes from what he didn't say ... anything crediting the former president for igniting Operation Warp Speed, which was so key in the nation getting vaccine at a, you guessed it, warp speed pace.
It would have been a good move, both politically and more importantly for the advancement of more people getting vaccinated, for Biden to have given Trump credit for the program that brough vaccines from beakers to syringes in essentially nine months or so, a process that has historically taken years. The rapid development of the vaccine is remarkable and will save potentially hundreds of thousands of lives — plus provide a giant leap toward the "return to normal" that we all yearn for.
Critics of Trump would say that any president would have done the same, put an emergency sticker on a project to get vaccines asap. Maybe, but we only have one president at a time, and the man in office last year, Trump, deserves the credit for doing so. It was an amazing accomplishment by scientists and American drug companies, and one of, if not the highest achievement of the Trump Administration.
Biden has made it a focus — at least through words during his campaign, during his inauguration, and during his first two months in office — to work across the aisle and bring the country together ... how did he put it, to "heal the soul of America." That's hard to do when the opposing party is in lockstep and focused against you — but that's the challenge that the president presented himself and sold the country that he would endeavor to do. He missed a grand opportunity to take a step toward that goal last Thursday.
But while Biden's lack of a word of praise hindered the socio-political advancement of getting vaccines into arms, something else was announced last week, something that was done and then wasn't done, that could have had an even greater impact on the push to vaccinate the nation. It was released that Trump and the then-First Lady had taken shots back in January. They were done in secret, without a public announcement which would have further legitimized the vaccines to millions of Trump supporters.
Trump did, to his credit, encourage people to get vaccinated during his CPAC speech in February. Had he coupled that with an announcement that he had indeed taken a shot (even after getting COVID back in the fall), it would have had a much greater impact among his followers at a time when many with conservative political views are hesitating on the vaccine.
Things are going well on the COVID front, it seems, great progress is being made. The last thing we need are self-imposed missteps in this fight. Both Biden and Trump missed huge opportunities to advance the health and wellbeing of our nation and chose not to take it, both instead falling victim to stubbornness and selfish agendas. The small things our leaders do can have massive impact.
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