- - Tuesday, March 2, 2021

No Democrat had a real chance in the 2020 presidential election until COVID-19 hit us from China.

In fact, until COVID-19 hit us and the Dems politicized it, President Trump was a “sure thing” because of the ever-surging economy — the best in seven decades, especially for women, African-Americans and Hispanics. No Democrat had a realistic chance and the DNC knew it. And if there had been a decent chance Mr. Trump could have somehow been defeated, Hillary Clinton would have run again.

But to begin this story, we have to go back to the “shock and awe” of the 2016 election, and the complete disbelief by the media and all of Washington’s “political insiders” — Democrat and Republican, that Hillary somehow got defeated — in what to them seemed an easy election for her to win. 

No one realized in 2016 just how dissatisfied the American people — of all political persuasions — were with the last few administrations of government — Democratic and Republican. And that would be both the George W. Bush and the Obama administrations: Sixteen years of failure –- for different reasons of course –- but failure nonetheless.

At the same time, there was an internal rupture in the Republican Party that became worse after Mr. Trump’s nomination. The D.C. part of the Republican establishment simply could not deal with Mr. Trump’s open criticism of GWB’s faulty decision to invade Iraq in 2003, which cost us years of failed policy in the Middle East and somewhere between $7 trillion and $11 trillion, depending on what is included.

And frankly, no D.C. politico thought Mr. Trump had a chance in 2016, and D.C. Republicans just shrugged and got ready to “take one for the team.” This while Hillary and her liberal pod got ready to move into the White House and arranged for a huge election night party to celebrate her victory. Yet they ended up, most media included, crying together and vowing to “resist” the reality of Mr. Trump’s victory. And they did.

Mr. Trump separated himself from the Washington GOP: Not being a Washington insider or candidate for political office before, Mr. Trump didn’t know — or maybe no one told him — that he probably should not have criticized past Republican administrations even if the criticisms were well founded, as his were. As Mr. Trump learned, nobody in Washington ever accepts any criticism — let alone responsibility — for things that go bad. And Mr. Bush going into Iraq in 2003 — as some kind of strategic response to 9/11 — was dumb, very dumb, and turned out to be very bad for us. 

And Donald Trump had the audacity to criticize the decision to go back into Iraq, which was based on faulty intelligence, but mostly on the inside political influence of D.C. “neocons” and the “Iraq Freedom” organizations.

So, not surprisingly, GWB himself and a long list of D.C. neocons came out against Mr. Trump, as well as political Army Gen. Colin Powell, who to this day tries to take back his goofy speech to the U.N. about Iraq WMD. But Mr. Trump’s criticism really didn’t matter, because by this time, we were sick of (1) the never-ending Iraq War (2) Mr. Obama’s unbelievable socialistic ego and (3) the very idea of another Clinton in the White House.

And Mr. Trump swept in — to the total amazement of the DNC, the Washington GOP establishment and the media — but not to the surprise of millions of voting Americans who wanted a change in the failed Washington political establishment of both Democrats and Republicans.

And for three years, the Trump economy burst all expectations and past records.

COVID-19 changed everything: And the DNC figured it out before the Trump administration did. In addition, there was a series of events early in the COVID-19 drama in New York that should have made it clear that the Democratic leadership was completely ok with putting many thousands of people at risk for purely political reasons. 

These events? Remember that very early on Mr. Trump sent a U.S. Navy hospital ship to New York City and provided them with thousands of ventilators and other medical equipment. But in order to prevent Mr. Trump from claiming his administration “saved the day.” New York officials simply refused to put COVID-19 patients on the hospital ship and use the other facilities and equipment Mr. Trump had made available. Instead they sat vacant, unused and wasted. 

How these actions contributed to the many thousands of COVID-related deaths in New York — thousands more than anywhere else — is yet to be determined. And also, the connection to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to move frail and elderly COVID-infected patients in and out of New York nursing homes. These sad events have turned into very controversial and political charged matters, the effects of which and are likely to continue for years. 

And the even larger question remains: Did Democrat-controlled states and cities follow the Cuomo example by refusing and/or deflecting federal efforts to engage the COVID-19 virus? This so they could then criticize the Trump administration and carry it forward into the 2020 election? It certainly appears as if this was a carefully carried out and coordinated political strategy, the result of which could have also cost thousands of lives — and also serving to elect a president of questionable competency. 

• Daniel Gallington served in senior national security positions.

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