Donald Trump is busy lying again, so we guess that means he's awake and in good spirits. On Twitter this morning, he replied to all those mean people saying during the Democratic convention that his response to the coronavirus pandemic has somehow been inadequate, by changing the subject (and lying). The "president" returned to a favorite bullshit theme of his, invoking a "history" that never actually happened:

Was that the big difference, President Trump? Oh, it wasn't? Well, huh.

Reality, of course, is summed up by a pretty simple comparison: Between April 12, 2009 and April 10, 2010, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that H1N1 killed 12,469 people in the USA. (Trump sometimes inflates that to 17,000, because he enjoys lying.) Since the first reported COVID-19 death in late February until now — that's a little shy of six months — more than 170,000 Americans have died, and deaths continue at a rate of about 1,000 a day. And of course, the virus may get far worse when cold weather returns.

In numbers, coronavirus has killed 13.6 times more Americans than H1N1 did.

Darn that Joe Biden, who did a terrible job, except for how Trump and his biggest fans keep lying about that, too.


So let's take a look at this bullshit, starting with the fact that the two diseases are very different. COVID-19 is far deadlier, and since influenza was largely a known quantity, that made developing a vaccine easier, even though there were setbacks in getting the vaccine to everyone. The CDC had a pretty good explainer on how COVID-19 is different from flu, too.

As for Trump's repeated claims that the Obama/Biden response to the 2009 pandemic was a "disaster," that too has been debunked again and again. As the Washington Post said when Trump started pushing that claim, back in April (when COVID-19 had already killed 40,000 in the US),

In general, Obama got pretty high marks. Going through the after-action reports and Inspector General investigations, it's hard to find much that would qualify as a "disaster" or "debacle." [...]

A New York Times assessment in 2010 noted that some flaws in the system were discovered, but overall the government was praised for its response — in part because it turned out that the pandemic was not as severe as it once had appeared. The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in August 2009 had forecast 30,000 to 90,000 deaths, and the final death toll was much less than that.

As WaPo's Glenn Kessler pointed out even then, considering how rapidly the number of coronavirus deaths shot past even Trump's exaggerated claim, "One would think Trump would drop this talking point, but apparently he thinks it still works for him."

As for Trump's insistence that polling on the Obama administration's handling of H1N1 was "really bad," CNN did check that out when Trump made that claim in March, and noted

A CNN poll from late 2009 showed that 57% of respondents approved of Obama's handling of the swine flu, despite vaccine shortages at the time.

In March, FactCheck.org cited that November 2009 CNN poll, taken shortly after the second wave of the H1N1 outbreak reached its peak in October of that year, as well as an October 2009 Washington Post-ABC News poll which found that 69 percent of Americans said they were "confident in the federal government's ability to respond to an outbreak."

CNN also pointed out, by the way, that back in 2009, Trump himself was generally supportive of Obama's response to the early weeks of the H1N1 outbreak. And even then, Trump downplayed the serious of the disease while pushing lies about vaccines. Even though the claim had been broadly debunked by 2009, Trump repeated the lie that vaccines cause autism, because he was an idiot a decade ago too.

By contrast, current polling on Trump's response to the pandemic doesn't seem to recognize what a very stable genius he is. An August NBC News-Survey Monkey poll found only 31 percent of Americans trust Trump's statements on the virus, and an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday found that 61 percent of respondents

believe the country's COVID-19 management strategy is unsuccessful. They also indicate the majority of individuals who hold that perspective feel strongly about it, with close to 40 percent of the poll's participants describing America's response the virus outbreak as "very unsuccessful."

Ah, but a whopping 36 percent in the poll said Trump's response was "successful," although just eight percent considered it "very successful." Big surprise: The disapproval came with a huge partisan divide! (Unfortunately, in a statistic we just made up, many of those who thought the response was "very successful" subsequently croaked from guzzling hydroxychloroquine.)

In conclusion, Joe Biden sure did a terrible job of killing Americans in 2009, while Donald Trump has made it one of the most memorable parts of his tenure. You could even say his failure will go down in history.

[CDC / NPR / CNN / WaPo / FactCheck.org / The Hill / Newsweek]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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