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Trump Takes Heat Over COVID From a Very Unlikely Corner, but Are They Right?

While Donald Trump’s presidency has been (rightfully in my view) seen as an overall success on policy by most Republicans, there is one aspect of his decision-making that is coming under fire more and more lately. That centers around his handling of COVID, but not in the way the left scream into the ether over.

Rather, Trump’s elevation and toleration of Dr. Anthony Fauci along with the former president’s criticism of some red states that pushed back at the time is starting to get analyzed. And while such analysis would be easy to dismiss if it were coming from the halls of Never Trumpdom, those that are speaking out now come from the polar opposite viewpoint on Trump and have the credibility to say what they are saying.

Steve Deace and Julie Kelly, the latter of which has been doing excellent work exposing federal misconduct involving January 6th prosecutions, had an exchange I think is worth discussing.

Kelly, an ardent Trump supporter throughout his presidency, also mentions in a subsequent exchange that Trump levied criticism against Ron DeSantis and criticized Georgia for reopening “too soon.” The former president went after Sweden’s response at one point as well.

Whether one thinks any of this is disqualifying for Trump in 2024 or not, there’s are certainly lessons to be learned. Trump played himself as the rogue, willing to stand up to the “swamp,” yet when he was faced with the most swampy situation of his presidency, he seemed lost and unwilling to take decisive action. One day, he’d be pushing back against pointless mask-wearing. The next, he’d be parroting Fauci on lockdowns.

And while you could say there were unknowns early on that led to confusion by the White House on what to do and say, by the summer of 2020, there was simply no excuse to have not completely sidelined Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx. Even after Trump stopped meeting with them, he had the power to dissolve their task force and keep both of them off CNN for good as he was the ultimate authority at their agencies. By the time Scott Atlas was thrown into the mix, it was both too late. Further, he was never given the support he deserved and needed to get his message out without having Fauci undermine him.

This same criticism extends to Mike Pence, whose continued establishmentarian support of Fauci was just another in a line of things he’s done over the years to show he does not have the backbone to stand up with push comes to shove.

Trump’s criticism of Florida was perhaps the most disappointing aspect of all this. While DeSantis was standing up, looking at the data himself, and telling the “experts” to go jump in a lake, at a very real risk to his governorship at the time, Trump attempted to undercut him, both in his own commentary and via proxy by allowing Fauci to trash Florida’s response. And while I don’t think it was personal (Trump was likely fearful Florida was going to end up in a bad spot and wanted to get ahead of that), it’s not an excuse.

In short, I believe Kelly and Deace are right on this front, and their history says they aren’t levying this criticism out of anything other than genuine concern. If Trump does run again in 2024, there has to be an admission of the mistakes made here and a realization that they can’t happen again. Draining the swamp has to be more than just a catchphrase at rallies.

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