Trump Does Video Trashing COVID Lockdowns, but the Internet Remembers When He Supported Them

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Former President Donald Trump might be way ahead in the polls, but if he wants to stay there, he might have some ‘splainin’ to do. Instead, it appears he has chosen to go the route of tone-deafness when it comes to discussions about the left trying to resurrect their cherished COVID lockdown orders and mask mandates.

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On Wednesday, the former president cut a video railing against the possibility that mask mandates and other COVID restrictions might be making a return. He said:

“The left wing lunatics are trying very hard to bring back COVID lockdowns and mandates with all of their sudden fearmongering about the new variants that are coming. Gee whiz. You know what else is coming? An election. They want to restart the COVID hysteria so they can justify more lockdowns, more censorship, more illegal dropboxes, more mail in ballots, and trillions of dollars in payoffs to their political allies heading into the 2024 election. Does that sound familiar? These are bad people. These are sick people.”

As you might have already guessed, when the video was posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, it was promptly ratioed by users reminding viewers of Trump’s past support for lockdown orders and vaccines.

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You might remember, once upon a time, in a land called Georgia where Gov. Brian Kemp wanted to lift lockdown orders earlier than planned. Trump wasn’t too happy about the move. In April 2020, the former president insisted that Georgia should adhere to federal guidelines that were created by the likes of Dr. Anthony Fauci. “I want him to do what he thinks is right,” Trump said at the time. “But I disagree with him on what he is doing.”

Also remarkable is the former president’s camaraderie with Fauci, who never saw a COVID restriction he didn’t adore. At first, one could be forgiven for trusting the doctor’s judgment as it was still early in the pandemic, and the nation did not yet know that he was a virulent authoritarian in a white lab coat.

But as time went on, and the inconsistencies began to pile up like empty beer bottles at a frat party, Trump still would not push back on Fauci. In fact, he ended up awarding him a Presidential Medal of Commendation the day before he left office.

Sure, Trump did not issue a federal lockdown order. It was never in his power to do so – thank God. But his administration did create and issue the guidelines that many states followed – especially in blue areas of the country. This included limitations on travel, going to bars and restaurants, and other venues:

President Trump, under pressure to take more significant steps to slow the spreading coronavirus, recommended on Monday that Americans stop unnecessary travel and avoid bars, restaurants and groups of more than 10 people, as he warned that the outbreak could extend well into the summer.

The national guidelines, which also advise home-schooling and the curtailing of visits to nursing homes and long-term care facilities, are the most robust response so far from the Trump administration. But the guidelines, which officials described as a trial set, are not mandatory and fall short of a national quarantine and internal travel restrictions, which many health officials had urged.

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As of this writing, Trump has never issued anything resembling a mea culpa or apology for how he ran the country while the pandemic was in full swing. Indeed, he has only shown a remarkable inability to read the room.

Remember earlier this year when he tried to criticize Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for closing Florida down? “Florida was actually closed for a great, long period of time. You remember, [DeSantis] closed the beaches and everything else. You know, they’re trying to rewrite history,” he said.

His criticism was not without merit, but it meant absolutely nothing coming from him. It was nothing more than the pot dialing the kettle’s number to inform him what color he was.

So what gives? Does Trump think the base will have mass amnesia? Or perhaps he is banking on the possibility that they might forgive him. The latter, of course, seems more plausible as he is still far ahead in the polls. It could show that he has convinced the base that he has changed his mind on the response to the pandemic. But it seems more likely that conservative voters are willing to overlook his handling of the pandemic, which is quite interesting given how thoroughly they have criticized Democrats for pushing all of these restrictions.

Either way, Trump may not be able to get away with pretending the past didn’t happen for much longer. While many conservative influencers, including those who have interviewed him, have refused to ask him hard questions on this matter, his opponents in the presidential primaries are sure to bring it up at some point. This is especially true once Trump has to finally get on the debate stage to make his case to the public. The real question is: How will he handle the inevitable questions about his COVID response?

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