On Wednesday, speaking to Sunny Hostin of ABC’s “The View,” former UN Ambassador Susan Rice, attacking President Trump for his handling of the coronavirus crisis, claimed that the Obama administration had handed the Trump administration a “Pandemic for Dummies” playbook and snapped that the blame for 150,000 Americans dying “is on Donald Trump and his gross mishandling of this pandemic.”
Hostin prompted, “Ambassador, I do want to talk to you then about the coronavirus because President Trump has said nobody could have predicted this pandemic.”
Rice responded with a smirk.
Hostin continued, “But the Obama administration did predict a pandemic and you personally tried to prepare the incoming administration for something just like this, leaving essentially a pandemic playbook that warned of this type of virus happening. So who is really to blame for the abysmal response here and the death of 150,000 Americans?”
“Well, Sunny, yes, everybody who knew anything about national security, global health, understood that a pandemic was inevitable,” Rice answered. “I write about it in my book that we were just talking about briefly at the outset. We prepared the incoming administration with a ‘Pandemic for Dummies’ playbook and a tabletop exercise and so many other briefings.”
“So the fault here, the tragic loss of 150,000 Americans and counting is on Donald Trump and his gross mishandling of this pandemic,” Rice continued. “He said it would go away. He likened it to the flu. He said, you know, that it would be fine to reopen our states prematurely. He’s encouraged kids to go back to school in communities where the virus is raging. Every step of the way Donald Trump has put his own personal political interests ahead of the wealth (sic) [health] and well-being and the economic security of Americans. That is why this tragedy has been as bad as it has been. Anybody who has any doubt about that, look at many other competent countries in the rest of the world. In Europe, in Asia, and elsewhere, that have handled this in such a way that their kids are going back to school; their economies are reopening, and the numbers continue to go down. That is not what is happening here.”
Rice is not the only former Obama administration official to attack Trump for his handling of the coronavirus. In April, Valerie Jarrett, the senior advisor to former President Barack Obama, who was credited with wielding enormous power behind the scenes, took a shot at President Trump over his handling of the coronavirus crisis while offering a “much better” portrayal of Obama, tweeting, “Someone asked me today how would @Barack Obama have handled this crisis? Answer in one word – better. Ok, two words. Much better.”
Despite Rice and Jarrett’s glowing assessments of the Obama administration, the administration has come under criticism for its response to a 2009 epidemic. After the swine flu epidemic of 2009, medical masks were depleted, and the Obama administration did not act to replenish supply. The Los Angeles Times reported:
After the swine flu epidemic in 2009, a safety-equipment industry association and a federally sponsored task force both recommended that depleted supplies of N95 respirator masks, which filter out airborne particles, be replenished by the stockpile, which is maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That didn’t happen, according to Charles Johnson, president of the International Safety Equipment Assn.
Additionally, the first U.S. case of swine flu, which occurred in California, was identified on April 15, 2009. On April 25, the World Health Organization declared H1N1 a public health emergency, echoed by Obama one day later.
The World Health Organization declared H1N1 a pandemic on June 11 but it took Obama until October to declare a national emergency; Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency two days after WHO declared the coronavirus to be a pandemic.
After Jarrett posted her criticism in April, Representative Dan Crenshaw — a U.S. veteran and Navy Seal for 10 years who lost his right eye after an explosive device hit him in Afghanistan in 2012, and earned two Bronze stars, the Purple Heart, and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with valor — expressed disbelief that in the present moment, Democrats were seizing the opportunity while people are dying in droves to put partisan politics above coming together as Americans.
Crenshaw tweeted, “Why do so many Obama administration staffers constantly try to make Americans feel awful? Highlighting policy differences is expected — but this level of vitriol? During this pandemic? Why?”
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