A year ago Joe Biden gathered and spoke at an event at the White House that was symbolic on two fronts. First, it was Independence Day, an important day for our country, but it was presented as a turning point for our nation as hundreds had gathered on the White House South Lawn in an event meant to celebrate Biden’s “victory” over COVID-19, which had been on the decline.
Biden clearly hoped it would be a defining moment of his presidency that would secure his legacy as the man whose leadership got us out of the pandemic.
“Just think back to where this nation was a year ago,” Biden said in his speech. “Think back to where you were a year ago. And think about how far we’ve come. From silent streets to crowded parade routes lined with people waving American flags; from empty stadiums and arenas to fans back to their seats cheering together again; from families pressing hands against a window to grandparents hugging their grandchildren once again. We’re back traveling again. We’re back seeing one another again.”
“Today, all across this nation, we can say with confidence: America is coming back together,” Biden declared. “Two hundred and forty-five years ago, we declared our independence from a distant king. Today, we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus.”
Ultimately, the speech would become one of his biggest blunders. While he did acknowledge that the fight against COVID wasn’t over he nevertheless believed that we were in the final lap to victory. And it sure seemed like it; at the time of the speech, new cases were at their lowest levels since the earliest weeks of the pandemic. Biden was, without a doubt, celebrating our “independence from COVID-19.” In fact, it was the name of his speech: Celebrating Independence Day and Independence from
Biden’s speech is comparable to the May 1, 2003 speech from President George W. Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln declaring the end of major combat operations in Iraq. What he actually said during the speech was quickly overshadowed by a banner that was hung above him reading “Mission Accomplished.” The banner was seen as a premature declaration of victory in Iraq because the conflict was far from over and military casualties and fatalities continued.
Similarly, after Biden delivered his speech, COVID cases and deaths would spike again, thanks to the delta and omicron varients. Five months after his speech declaring independence from COVID, the death toll from COVID on his watch surpassed the death toll under Trump—despite his inheriting two vaccines.
Biden knew he was in trouble, and quickly sought to absolve himself of responsibility. In December, he declared, “There is no federal solution [to COVID]. This gets solved at a state level.” Biden had previously demanded that governors “get out of the way” of federal efforts in the fight against COVID. “If these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way,” Biden said in an obvious attempt to not merely shift responsibility for COVID to our nation’s governors, but also the blame.
In other words, five months after declaring independence from COVID, he essentially conceded defeat.
Biden ran for president promising to “shutdown the virus,” yet despite inheriting every advantage possible, including two vaccines already in use, and a third approved shortly after, the pandemic ultimately got worse on his watch. Things have gotten better, finally, but no thanks to anything he or his administration did. And if Biden thought that the end of the pandemic would save his legacy, he was wrong. His current poll numbers are the worst of his presidency.