Four years later, President Donald Trump received the opposite response from the “Twitterati Resistance” when he announced Wednesday that he’s appointed Vice President Mike Pence to serve as the head of a task force on the coronavirus.
Leading the cynical, sometimes fact-free backlash was socialist Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and other demonstrably far-left activists and so-called “journalists.”
Mike Pence literally does not believe in science.
It is utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of US coronavirus response as the world sits on the cusp of a pandemic.
This decision could cost people their lives. Pence’s past decisions already have. https://t.co/NhMPOusOWm
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 27, 2020
When Mike Pence was governor of Indiana, his public health record was so stellar that his state policy led directly to a large HIV outbreak.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) February 26, 2020
Mike Pence is for conversion therapy. Mike Pence said smoking didn’t cause cancer. Mike Pence doesn’t believe climate science. Mike Pence questioned whether or not condoms worked. So, ?
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) February 26, 2020
“He’s got a certain talent for this,” Trump says of Pence, who was just named to lead the government’s coronavirus approach.
As Indiana governor Pence allowed an HIV outbreak in Scott County to spread to epidemic proportions because he slow-walked approval for needle exchanges.
— Katie Rogers (@katierogers) February 26, 2020
Trump fired the actual experts in pandemic response two years ago and doesn’t trust anyone with actual expertise so now Mike Pence, who wrote columns doubting that cigarettes caused cancer, is in charge of the coronavirus.
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) February 26, 2020
America is a driving force in fighting epidemics, and now the director of that fight is Mike Pence, a guy who’s scientific knowledge consists of how many times you have to pray before you’re cured of being gay.
— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) February 26, 2020
Trump names Mike Pence as the Coronavirus Czar rather than CDC Director Robert Redfield or Surgeon General Jerome Adams. A physician should be in charge of the nation’s coronavirus response, not some dude who quarantines himself from other women when dining out. #coronavirususa
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) February 26, 2020
Oh good. Trump is putting @VP in charge of the #CoronavirusOutbreak. Mike Pence, the guy who once said, “despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.” Just the perfect man for the job.
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) February 26, 2020
My dad (a doctor) had signs in every bathroom in our house that said, “Handwashing prevents infection!” with a teddy bear and a heart. I wouldn’t mind seeing those signs everywhere now. More effective than Pence.
— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) February 27, 2020
“I’m going to be putting our vice president, Mike Pence, in charge,” the president had announced at a presser earlier Wednesday evening. “And Mike will be working with the professionals and doctors and everybody else that’s working. The team is brilliant.”
“I spent a lot of time with the team over the last couple of weeks, but they’re totally brilliant. And we’re doing really well. Mike is going to be in charge, and Mike will report back to me. But he’s got a certain talent for this.”
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His remarks about a “certain talent” referenced then-Indiana Gov. Pence’s handling of an HIV outbreak that occurred in two of Indiana’s rural communities in 2015.
Prior to the outbreak, the then-governor stood in staunch opposition to proposals from left-wing politicians to offer fresh, clean needles to drug users. The idea presumably seemed counter-productive to him, as such programs arguably encourage drug use.
Moreover, according to a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2018, the public’s support for needle-exchange programs “remains low.”
“Among the 1,004 adults sampled, only 29 percent supported legalizing safe consumption sites in their communities and only 39 percent supported legalizing syringe services programs in their communities,” the school reported at the time.
Around March of 2015, however, the then-governor chose to make an exception by issuing an executive order allowing for needle-exchange programs to operate for 30 days in the most affected counties.
“The new law allows areas that can prove they’re in the midst of an epidemic to seek approval from the state health commissioner to launch a needle exchange,” the Chicago Tribune reported at the time.
“Pence supported the proposal that legislators endorsed last week, even though he’s said he opposes needle exchanges as part of an anti-drug policy. … Pence said the new law, which takes effect immediately, will give communities a way to help respond to such outbreaks.”
The exchanges were designed to only be operational temporarily, though, as Pence still believed — and justifiably so, according to evidence — that needle-exchange programs weren’t the best tool to combat drug addiction. State prosecutors agreed.
San Francisco leaders to mull extending needle exchange program as criticism continues regarding syringes being left behind on city streets. https://t.co/W9pBE4WJcs
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) April 9, 2019
“Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys are warning the public, as well as government officials that the creation of a permanent state program that establishes needle exchanges is bad public policy. … Indiana prosecutors maintain that the real problem causing the epidemic proportions of HIV and Hepatitis C in the state is illegal use of hard street drugs,” the Greensburg Daily News reported in April of 2015.
Four years later, the programs still remain operational, though the state’s drug problems haven’t ceased.
“Indiana, you have a drug problem. That’s according to a study released Monday by the personal-finance website WalletHub, which found that the state struggled with substance abuse at the fifth-highest rate in the nation,” The Times of Northwest Indiana reported last May.
Dovetailing back to the backlash, there were two factors that the president’s critics were neglecting to take into consideration.
First, had Trump been successfully removed from office, as Democrats like AOC had sought, then Pence — the man she falsely claims “literally does not believe in science” — would be in charge …
Second, as czar of the coronavirus task force, the VP won’t be performing the research himself. He’ll just be overseeing the process and reporting to the president:
How are you ever taken seriously?? Ugh. You are more crazy with every Tweet. Mike Pence is reporting to the President. He’s not cooking up a cure in a Meth lab. Good grief woman. You are so anti-American it’s disgusting. Go back to bartending.
— Pastor Greg Locke (@pastorlocke) February 27, 2020
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