Instead of pulling together as a team and pledging to join bipartisan efforts to help research and combat the coronavirus, Democrats have chosen to mislead people by willfully mischaracterizing the Trump administration’s plan to tackle the emerging threat as insufficient, poorly planned, and underfunded.
One of their particularly outrageous lines of attack was in response to President Trump naming Vice President Pence to oversee the White House’s coronavirus response messaging.
The reactions from left-wing comedians, celebrities and media figures was as predictable as it was despicable. They chose to attack Pence’s Christian faith.
Late night TV talk show host Jimmy Kimmel asked, “Why is Mike Pence in charge? What is his plan to stop the virus, abstinence?”
Lizz Winstead, co-creator of the Daily Show, tweeted, “Pence said prayer should be how Indiana should control its HIV outbreak in Indiana when he was governor, and also believes you can reverse your abortion.”
Actor Kirk Acevedo also joined in. “Americans are safe now. Mike Pence is gonna pray away the Coronavirus!” he tweeted.
CNN anchor Don Lemon wondered if “[Pence is] the person you want in charge of the coronavirus outbreak? Someone who needs to pray on something instead of looking at science?”
Perhaps worst of all was when a similar line of attack against Pence came from Democratic presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders. The Vermont Senator tweeted out to his followers that it was “disgusting” to “have VP Pence, who wanted to ‘pray away’ HIV epidemic, oversee the [coronavirus] response.”
The accusation that Pence’s solution to a 2015 HIV outbreak in Indiana while he was the governor was to “pray it away” is categorically false. Even the New York Times, no fans of conservative Christians, wrote about Pence’s response to the public health crisis in 2016. “H.I.V. was spreading with terrifying speed among intravenous drug users” in Scott County, the paper reported.
Pence, like many Republicans, opposes needle exchange programs, believing they only make drug problems worse. But over a period of several weeks, various officials at all levels of government urged him to reverse his position and allow them even though it was illegal under Indiana state law unless the person in possession of the needle had a prescription.
According to the paper, Pence said on March 23 he was going pray on what to do. No direct quote was provided.
Two days after he spoke to Scott County’s sheriff, Pence reversed course by way of an executive order on allowing the distribution of clean needles in the county.
Discerning readers will note that there is a big difference between saying someone wants to “pray away” a health issue versus someone who says they are going to pray about what course of action to take on it next.
But we live in a hyper-political country where belittling the Christian faith of conservative Christians is fashionable in Democratic circles, even at a time when the responsible thing to do is to not misinform people and deliberately undercut official efforts at combating coronavirus before a) you fully understand them and b) the administration has even had a chance to really get started.
It really shouldn’t be a tall order to ask Democratic candidates for president to calm down, take a deep breath, and do a little research before spouting off sensationalistic claims about administration figures, including Pence, that aren’t true, and which only serve to create more panic.
But apparently it is too much to ask Democrats like Sanders to try to rein in their disdain for conservative Christian Republicans who also happen to be in positions of power.
Because playing politics with a growing health threat apparently is an acceptable tactic in this day and age as long as you’re a Democrat.
Stacey Matthews is a veteran blogger who has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to Red State and Legal Insurrection.