It’s a fair question, given the criticism directed at Trump in this viral election year. The short answer is, we’d have more American coronavirus deaths.
The infection rate in America is much lower than in most developed countries. In America, it’s currently about 400 cases per million population. In Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Germany and France, it’s 1,500, 1,600, 1600, 700 and 600, respectively.
(Yes, I’m aware that, to Hillary Clinton’s apparent delight, the total number of cases is now highest in America. But that’s because even though the infection rate in America is low, the total population of America is much higher than most other countries. Sorry, Hillary, but America is still doing relatively well.)
It’s not just the infection rate that’s much lower in America. In addition, the death rate is way lower. In America, it’s currently seven per million. In Italy, Spain, Switzerland and France, it’s 166, 128, 31 and 35, respectively. (Germany compares well with America on the death rate, at five per million.)
Experts agree that one reason America has been hit relatively lightly is that America banned flights from China early and then also banned foreign visitors from Europe early.
Those early bans didn’t just delay the arrival of the virus to American shores, but could be decisive in beating it. They bought us time to develop treatments, formulate plans and manufacture equipment like respirators and face masks that the Obama administration had depleted and never restocked. And perhaps critically, the travel bans bought us time for warm weather to arrive.
Meanwhile, Europe refused to ban flights from China. In hard-hit Italy, they even made a show of “hug a Chinese” day, as if a display of racial tolerance for Chinese visitors would persuade the virus infecting them not to transmit to Italians.
Even after the virus ran amuck in Italy, the French refused to cancel soccer matches with Italian teams visiting France along with thousands of their Italian fans. The open borders of the EU were left wide open – to the virus.
At one point, the French scoffed at the idea of cancelling the Paris Fashion Show. That was thousands of deaths ago, and they ultimately did cancel the show.
Simply put, the Europeans didn’t take the virus seriously early on, and then they let their fashion consciousness, sports obsessions and moral vanity dictate their medical response.
Which is exactly what Obama would have done.
It’s inconceivable that Obama would have banned foreign flights into the U.S. He delighted in pandering to foreigners, to the point that he frequently apologized overseas for what he perceived as American arrogance and racism.
The fact that the virus originated in China would have sealed our fate. Like the Europeans, Obama would have bent over backwards and forwards to make a show of racial tolerance.
If you have any doubt, look at the rambling ruminations of Obama’s Vice President, current presidential candidate Joe Biden. In response to Trump’s ban of foreigners flying from Europe, Biden called Trump “xenophobic.”
In response to Trump’s earlier ban on flights from China, Biden said: “We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering.”
Biden likes that word “xenophobia.” This from a guy who can’t put together a pre-recorded speech even with the aid of a teleprompter.
It turned out that Trump’s travel bans were exactly the right move from a science perspective. Science doesn’t yield to political correctness, nor does it yield to election year demagoguing, nor does it yield to Joe Biden’s xenophobia-philia.
Speaking of vice presidents, Trump named his, Mike Pence, to be the Chair of the White House Task Force on Coronavirus. Pence has converted skeptics and now even the Democrats praise his engaged and level-headed performance.
If Obama were still president, would he have named his own Vice President, Joe Biden, to that position? If so, does anyone seriously think Biden would have been up to the task?
But here’s one thing that would be better if Obama were president now. We would have much less hysteria and panic. The media would be downplaying the seriousness of the epidemic while fawning over Obama’s cool handling of it, right down to getting thrills up their legs while admiring the perfect crease in his suit pants.
Granted, I have some gripes about Trump’s handling of the crisis. For example, it’s not productive or presidential to be baited into twitter-wars with state governors or cafeteria food fights with rodeo clowns masquerading as news reporters.
But people are package deals. In times of crisis, we can hardly complain that a bold leader lacks genteel refinement. Over the past month, the inimitable package that we call Donald Trump has outperformed his predecessor and clearly saved lives.