This has been rumbling for a few days now, and like any volcano, it could explode pyrotechnically before too long, or it could go dormant again. Donald Trump was with his BFF Bill O’Reilly on the History Tour and they both revealed that they had gotten the COVID booster shots. That was what got the ball rolling. Then Trump did his interview with Candace Owen, which I wrote about this morning and said that all three of the vaccines (inference: all of which he personally invented) were effective.
Swell. If he wants to take credit for the vaccine(s), I am all for it. If it will get him to finally do the right thing and get his MAGA constituents, who are dying at six times the rate of non MAGAs to stop killing themselves and swamping the medical community, I’m all for for it. I’m fairly sure that Joe Biden feels that way. Trump was pleased as punch, as Hubert Humphrey used to say, that Biden acknowledged his part in the vaccines. He told Fox News,
“I’m very appreciative of that,” Trump said. “I was surprised to hear it. I think it was a terrific thing, and I think it makes a lot of people happy…. I think [Biden] did something very good. You know, it has to be a process of healing in this country, and that will help a lot.”
If a little flattery will get the job done, fine. I’m sure Biden will slather it on with a trowel if necessary. He wants people to live.
Butttt, payback is a bitch and already the influential Ben Garrison, a pro-Trump cartoonist has turned on Trump. He drew the cartoon above. And he’s not the only one, by a long shot. Tik Tok and Instagram are filled with disillusioned MAGAs venting their disappointment in Trump. I’m equally sure that the other militants in the MAGA firmament, Stew “Pidd” Peters comes to mind, are terrified to do an interview with Trump after Candace Owens’ recent debacle.
So here we stand at a crossroads, asking the question: Is Trump finally woke to the horror of COVID? Is he ready to stand with science and help the country, like the cavalry thundering down the hill at the 11th hour? Oh, hell no. This is Donald Trump you’re talking about. Self-interest rules the day. Get a wet towel and slap yourself in the face if you ever think otherwise. And/or be prepared to wear a scarlet “N” for naive forever. William Rivers Pitt, Truthout:
So it was quite the moment last Sunday when Trump, in Dallas doing a road show with disgraced former Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly, was booed by the usually-adoring crowd after admitting he had received the vaccine booster shot. “Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, no, no,” he barked back at the booers. “That’s — there’s a very tiny group over there.” Trump was so distraught over the crowd reaction that he reportedly had to be consoled by O’Reilly afterward.
Flash forward to Tuesday, when Trump had a sit with notorious right-wing hack Candace Owens and the topic of vaccines came up. Trump was quick to take total credit for them — of course — as he lauded their effectiveness. Owens attempted to spin the discussion into a conspiracy-fueled attack on the medicines, but Trump would have none of it.
“Oh no, the vaccines work,” Trump quickly retorted, “but some people aren’t the ones. The ones who get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don’t take the vaccine. But it’s still their choice. And if you take the vaccine, you’re protected. Look, the results of the vaccine are very good, and if you do get it, it’s a very minor form. People aren’t dying when they take the vaccine.”
That’s twice in a week Trump has bared his throat to his own horde, and the current president took notice by praising Trump for it in a speech. Trump reacted to that praise in a way I’d never seen before: He was kind, gregarious even. “I’m very appreciative of that,” Trump said to Fox News. “I was surprised to hear it. I think it was a terrific thing, and I think it makes a lot of people happy…. I think [Biden] did something very good. You know, it has to be a process of healing in this country, and that will help a lot.”
The head spins, the mind reels, and you can expect more of the same. Trump has not suddenly found religion here: He wants a piece of the action. He wants his face up there on Vaccine Mt. Rushmore when the day finally comes that we have this thing under some semblance of control. For sure the cry of “I did the vaccines all by myself!” will be the centerpiece to his campaign should he run for president again. This lays the groundwork for that, and there is certainly more to come. Trump is the world heavyweight champion of consistent messaging, and this is his new message.
He wants a piece of the action. He was tickled pink when Joe Biden acknowledged the previous administration’s work on the vaccines because now he’s got a clear shot from now until 2024 with that messaging. If you hit the link above where it says that Trump had to be consoled by Bill O’Reilly after being booed, you will see O’Reilly explain that Trump “did a Don Corleone. He made them [pharmaceutical companies] an offer they couldn’t refuse. He promised billions of dollars…” So this is the memory hole narrative of Trump world, that Trump invented the vaccines, through his genius negotiation skills. (It should be interesting when he’s confronted with that video accusing the pharmaceutical companies of grifting by suggesting a booster dose.)
The yous and mes who read the papers saw that on March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization declared that COVID was a world pandemic. March 19 was the stay at home order in California. That’s when the Fox News “hoax” mask fell off and shattered. One of their anchors, who previously had suggested that COVID was a made up political tactic to go after Trump was summarily fired.
June 30 Dr. Fauci warned that COVID-19 cases could reach 100,000 per day.
On September 14 Pfizer BioNTech expanded their Phase III trials.
November 18 the Pfizer vaccine was found to be 95% effective. There were all kinds of fits and starts with Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines all that summer and fall and eventually those were ironed out and we got to where we got.
Point being, Pfizer is a German company and the development of the vaccine was not a result of Trump’s Operation Warp Speed. But you might as well throw that idea out with your garbage because it looks like the mythos of our time is now that Trump’s greatest administrative achievement was vaccine development.
And you know what? If this new pivot gets a few needles into a few MAGA arms and saves human misery, then so be it. Maybe Joe Biden will continue to humor Trump like a child, if he sees that that’s the only way to get this headed in the right direction, as 40% of this country remains unvaccinated and the Omicron variant is ready to wreak havoc this winter.
If it saves lives, let’s do it. Trump can be on Vaccine Mt. Rushmore. Fine. Just one little caveat, Donald: they may not be able to pivot with you, your MAGA legions. COVID was your Waterloo and you may not be able to reinvent your actual relationship to it at the time. But it will be amusing to see you try.