While the Trump administration continues to mishandle the ongoing pandemic, they have found it easier to blame their mistakes on former president Barack Obama.
This week, President Donald Trump's new plan of attack has been to target his predecessor Barack Obama (perhaps though that's not so new). He accused the former president of committing some crime - he's not sure which - under the banner Obamagate. As reporters continue to press Trump to be clearer on exactly what his allegations against Obama are, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has joined the "let's blame Obama" bandwagon. In a Trump campaign online chat with Lara Trump, the President's daughter-in-law and campaign senior adviser (#nepotism), McConnell claimed the Obama administration failed to leave the current White House "any kind of game plan" for a pandemic. Well, the former administration actually developed a 69-page playbook, CNN reports.
Tonight's Team Trump Livestream features Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who, talking COVID-19, tells Lara Trump, "clearly the Obama administration did not leave to this administration, any kind of game plan for something like this." pic.twitter.com/tRYUn1x7mB— DJ Judd (@DJJudd) May 12, 2020
Chatting with Lara Trump on Monday, McConnell slammed the former president for criticizing Trump's response to the pandemic. In a private call with former staffers last week, Obama called the response an "absolute chaotic disaster." Clearly, the Senator had some strong feelings about that. "They claim pandemics only happen once every hundred years but what if that's no longer true?" He stated. "We want to be early, ready for the next one, because clearly the Obama administration did not leave to this administration any kind of game plan for something like this." Lara Trump responded, "That's exactly right."
McConnell was proven wrong when Ronald Klain, a campaign adviser to Democratic candidate Joe Biden and the former Obama administration Ebola response coordinator, took to Twitter. Correcting the misunderstanding, he wrote, "We literally left them a 69-page Pandemic Playbook... That they ignored. And an office called the Pandemic Preparedness Office... That they abolished. And a global monitoring system called PREDICT... That they cut by 75 percent." Boom. McConnell? Wrong. Lara Trump? Silenced. Mic? Dropped. After some investigation, CNN discovered that Klain was indeed right. Would you like some aloe for that burn, McConnell?
Former President Obama's White House National Security Council had developed a detailed document on how to respond to a pandemic to help any future administrations. The document, which consists of 40 main pages and several more pages of appendices, consists of "step-by-step advice on questions to ask, decisions to make, and which federal agencies are responsible for what." Named the Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents, it was publicly revealed by Politico in March this year. Not that Senator McConnell is familiar with any of this, of course.
This is a bunch of malarkey and you know it, @senatemajldr. We left a 69-page playbook on how to fight pandemics.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 12, 2020
You can read it here if you’d like: https://t.co/zvRGv6ubWt
And make sure to pass along your notes to President Trump. He could use them. https://t.co/CooyBemPSv
The document is any nerd's dream. It is color-coded and in checklist-style, and addresses all the issues that a federal administration might come across when dealing with a public health crisis like the ongoing pandemic. The document touches up testing, funding, personal protective equipment, emergency declarations, border control measures, diplomacy, the use of the military, public communication, and even mortuary services. The document states clearly, "While each emerging infectious disease threat will present itself in a unique way, a consistent, capabilities-based approach to addressing these threats will allow for faster decisions with more targeted expert subject matter input from federal departments and agencies."
There isn’t a single person in modern American history who has caused or permitted more harm to be done to our democracy than Mitch McConnell and it’s not even close.— Andrew Weinstein (@Weinsteinlaw) May 13, 2020
While Obama's pandemic playbook can be criticized as being inadequate in the face of a crisis like the one we're currently experiencing, we can't really say that he left no game plan at all. Further to this, several outgoing senior Obama officials led an "in-person pandemic response exercise" for senior-level Trump officials who joined the White House in January 2017. They had to do so, again, because of one of Obama's proactive laws to improve the transition between administrations. Ben Rhodes, Obama's then-deputy national security adviser, added on Twitter, "The maddening thing is Obama left them a WH office for pandemics, a literal playbook, a cabinet-level exercise, and a global infrastructure to deal with 'something like this.'" Actually, Mr. Rhodes, the maddening thing is that Trump is happy to let thousands of Americans die as long as he can blame it on Obama.