Vice President Mike Pence offered up the first direct defense of the Rose Garden COVID-19 superspreader event to unveil Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, casting it as a matter of freedom of choice.
During Wednesday’s vice presidential debate, Pence cast the Rose Garden event, where dozens are thought to have been infected with the virus, as an epiphenomenon of the larger pandemic.
Pence said that the story of both that pandemic and the Rose Garden event is not one of incompetence, or dangerous negligence on the part of the government. Rather, it’s a divide between those who love freedom and liberal statists who want to impose yet another mandate on the tired millions, yearning to breathe free.
“President Trump and I trust the American people to make choices in the best interests of their health,” Pence said. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris consistently talk about mandates and not just mandates with the coronavirus, but a government takeover of health care.”
“We’re about freedom and respecting the freedom of the American people,” Pence added.
Pence framed that response not just as a defense of the Rose Garden event, however.
Rather, he teed up that divide as a way of accounting for the whole pandemic – and as a way of painting criticism of the Trump administration’s response as just another whine from the meddlesome left.
Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force since February, argued that when New York City, New Orleans, and Detroit were hit hard with COVID in March and April, the Trump administration “told the American people what needed to be done.”
“And the American people made the sacrifices,” Pence added.
In theory, those sacrifices have been made in part to allow the Trump administration to organize a coherent response to the virus, which would then allow us all to return to normalcy on a faster timeframe.
That did not happen.
Rather, as Pence pointed out, the Sun Belt was hit next.
“Americans stepped forward,” Pence intoned. “But the reality is, the work of the President of the United States goes on.”
And it was then, Pence added, that “a vacancy in the the Supreme Court has opened up.”
So, the Rose Garden superspreader event wasn’t just an expression of the Trump administration’s love of freedom. Rather, Pence implied, it was yet another milestone in the pandemic that has now claimed the lives of 210,000 Americans.
And in the world of Pence’s reply, that’s not a failure. It’s a simple result of the fact that the “work of the President of the United States goes on.”