- - Friday, July 24, 2020

In the late-19th century, Sigmund Freud wrote about projection, a process defined as displacing one’s feelings of shame onto another person or object. Were Freud still psychoanalyzing patients today, he would have a field day with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

Mr. Perez and the Joe Biden campaign are ratcheting up a desperate effort to win a greater share of the seniors vote in November. Mr. Perez hit the desperation jackpot July 16, when he said President Donald Trump has thrown seniors “to the wolves,” with his COVID-19 response, which has reportedly led to the deaths of more than 100,000 older Americans. 

Perhaps Mr. Perez is unaware of how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered thousands of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 to be transferred into nursing homes, exposing untold numbers of seniors to the deadly virus. The results were so devastating that the governor didn’t even want to tell the public which nursing homes were forced to admit those infected patients.

The result? The COVID-19 death toll for New York state exceeded 32,500 as of July 21, the highest in the nation, with an estimated 25% of those deaths happening in nursing homes. The situation in New York is so bad, Mr. Cuomo’s fellow Democrat Ron Kim, a state assemblyman from Queens, called his administration’s reporting on the situation, “a whitewash and coverup.”

Across the river in New Jersey, Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy is taking heat for what an investigation describes as “major missteps and negligence” by his administration. Among other failures noted in the investigation is Mr. Murphy’s delay in conducting nursing home inspections, a paucity of personal protective equipment (PPE) for nursing homes, insufficient COVID-19 testing in long-term care facilities and more. It’s estimated that seniors in nursing home settings accounted for more than 40% of New Jersey’s coronavirus deaths. As of July 21, New Jersey’s death rate per million population stood at 1,779, the highest in America.

While Democrats were busy wordsmithing talking points as they ignored or mismanaged the care of the elderly in confronting COVID-19, President Trump sent a U.S. Navy hospital ship to New York, invoked the Defense Production Act to provide more PPE and medical equipment and sent thousands of National Guard troops to build a temporary hospital in Manhattan. The president also earmarked more than $80 million for enhanced nursing home inspections to combat COVID-19 and improved telemedicine options and coronavirus testing for Medicare enrollees. 

Hyperbole aside, just who is throwing senior citizens to the wolves here? The bulk of managing COVID-19 resides with individual governors and local governments, not with a president. Any honest assessment of the facts shows that it was not Mr. Trump who condemned thousands of seniors to death by ordering infected patients into nursing homes or delaying long-term care inspections and coronavirus testing. 

National Democratic leaders are well aware that some of their most high-profile officials seriously botched the response to COVID-19, and that a lot of people were killed by those misguided policies. They also know there are, and will continue to be, investigations of these errors and that the findings will be damning. The reflexive political response is to attribute these deadly mistakes to someone — anyone! — other than those who are actually responsible. The natural repository for blame of All That Is Bad is Donald Trump.

Democrats also know that Mr. Trump’s policies leave him poised to siphon a significant chunk of votes from the African-American portion of their base, so they need to recoup this lost support from some other group of voters. In 2020, they hope to win the hearts and minds of seniors, who backed Mr. Trump over Hillary Clinton by a 53%-47% margin four years ago.

American retirees know very well that Mr. Trump’s policies have lowered their Medicare premiums, improved their health care, strengthened Social Security, increased the value of their retirement accounts and enacted new ways to combat COVID-19 in nursing homes. Many of these seniors also served in the military, fighting a socialist ideology that Joe Biden and the rest of his party now embrace.   

No amount of projection by Tom Perez or anyone else in the Biden camp will fool seniors into backing a party that has done such a poor job of representing their needs and interests. Unlike many younger voters today, seniors know their history and they understand what is at stake. It won’t work and it is seniors who are most likely to throw Joe Biden to the wolves come Election Day.

• Saul Anuzis is president of the 60 Plus Association. Jim Martin is the group’s founder and chairman. 

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