Somewhat surprisingly, the Republican National Convention hasn’t shied away from addressing the coronavirus, which has killed over 175,000 Americans thanks largely to Trump administration incompetence. Unfortunately, the pandemic is being portrayed this week not as a crisis that is still very much ongoing, but as something President Trump’s decisive leadership has already put to rest.
Take Mike Pence’s speech from Baltimore’s Fort McHenry on Wednesday night. Though the vice president didn’t speak about the pandemic in the past tense like economic adviser Larry Kudlow, and though — unlike Monday night’s pandemic sizzle reel — he did acknowledge that lives have been lost, the man leading the White House Coronavirus Task Force projected a triumphant tone as he described the Trump administration’s handling of a virus that is still wreaking havoc on pretty much every facet of American life.
He also bashed Joe Biden for taking a sober-minded approach to moving beyond the crisis. “Last week, Joe Biden said that no miracle is coming,” Pence said. “What Joe doesn’t seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles, and I’m proud to report that we’re on track to have the world’s first safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year.”
Mike Pence literally tells us to believe in "miracles" when it comes to America "being on track" for an effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year. pic.twitter.com/QyLTzwZZJb
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) August 27, 2020
So, that’s pretty much the plan.
Though having a vaccine to administer to the general population by the year’s end has a nice ring to it, most experts don’t see it happening until at least early next year. Others are looking further into the future, as safe, effective vaccines typically take years if not decades to develop. It’s true that an unprecedented amount of resources are being funneled toward fast-tracking a Covid-19 inoculation, but that doesn’t mean it’s something that can simply be willed into existence because there’s an election in a few months.
But America is a “nation of miracles,” Pence argues, echoing Trump’s repeated claims that the virus will simply vanish into thin air. “It’s going to disappear,” the president said in February. “One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” In early August, nearly 200,000 deaths and tens of millions of lost jobs later, Trump again insisted that the virus will simply “go away.” On Wednesday night Pence essentially confirmed that the administration’s strategy for moving past the pandemic doesn’t amount to much more than asking everyone to cross their fingers and hope all the scientists are wrong.
After Pence’s speech concluded, he and his wife Karen were joined by Trump and Melania. The first and second families spent several minutes speaking with supporters packed tightly against the rope in front of the stage. Almost none of them were wearing masks, nor had they been tested before entering Fort McHenry.