Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend
The 10 worst things Trump did in 2020
This week, I offer my annual lists of the 10 best and 10 worst things President Donald Trump did this year. Since 2020 was such a horrible year, we’ll start with the worst things first:
10. He pardoned war criminals.
Trump showed a flagrant disregard of the rule of law by pardoning Blackwater contractors who massacred unarmed Iraqi civilians, including innocent women and children.
9. He vetoed the bipartisanNational Defense Authorization Act.
Trump vetoed $ 741 billion in military spending and a 3% pay raise for our troops over an unrelated issue, and put Republicans who voted for it in the difficult position of having to choose whether to flipflop or override his veto.
8. He ordered the drawdown of nearly all U. S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Trump was apparently talked out of a complete withdrawal, but reducing to 2,500 troops in each country makes no strategic sense. Despite an ongoing terrorist threat, we will have fewer troops in Afghanistan or Iraq than we do in Spain.
7. He put millions in limbo by threatening to veto coronavirus relief.
After Democrats refused multiple GOP offers since July, Congress finally approved an aid package just as much pandemic relief was expiring. But Trump refused to sign the bill for almost a week— forcing millions of Americans to spend Christmas wondering whether they would be left to fend for themselves during the worst of the pandemic.
6. He failed to ban travel from Europe in January.
Trump announced a travel ban on Jan. 31 on non- U. S. residents who had recently been in mainland China, saving countless lives. But he did not shut down travel from Europe until March 11— almost six weeks later — because of objections from his economic advisers.
The outbreak in New York was seeded by travelers from Italy, and New York then seeded the rest of the country, becoming the
primary source of new infections across theUnited States.
5. His jarring fights with reporters during coronavirus briefings alienated rather than united us.
Trump proudly compared his press briefings to aMike Tyson boxing match, but frightened Americans didn’t want a boxing match; they wanted information and reassurance. In midMarch, 50.6% approved of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, but by April, he lost the American people — and never recovered.
4. His reluctance to embrace masks cost lives.
His refusal to require masks at his Tulsa rally, themaskless superspreader event at the WhiteHouse to announce Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination, and the scene of him dramatically removing his mask on theWhite House balcony after returning from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center all became symbols of his response failures to COVID- 19.
3. He is failing to distribute more than half the available doses of vaccine.
His administration is undermining the success of Operation Warp Speed by distributing only about 18 million doses this year when about 40 million will be available — leaving about 22million Americans without any immunity during the deadliest period since the pandemic began.
2. He lost a winnable election and then refused to accept the results — or his own responsibility for losing.
Trump lost because he alienated millions who approved of his policies but were tired of chaos. His mocking of Joe Biden’s cognitive struggles offended seniors, and their support for Trump declined by five points in Arizona and 11 points in Georgia compared with 2016. And after winning suburban voters by two points in 2016, he lost them by 10 this year. If he had performed with these groups the way he did four years ago, no amount of real or imagined fraud could have deprived him of a second term.
1. He discussed imposing martial law at an Oval Office meeting.
The suggestion by Michael Flynn that Trump declare martial law and use the military to re- run the election in swing states is insane. That Trump took it seriously enough to discuss it in the Oval Office is shameful, as are his calls for elected Republicans to overturn the results.
Finally, one of the worst things Trump did is not on the list because the results are not yet in: He has barely lifted a finger in Georgia to save Republican control of the Senate. He is so focused on overturning the presidential election that he could very well hand Democrats control of the Senate on Jan. 5 — and with it, unchecked power to reverse his achievements and enact a radical agenda. If that happens, Trump will leave the White House in infamy.
That is the worst list of worsts I have compiled in four years. But 2020 also saw some of the greatest accomplishments of Trump’s presidency. Does the good outweigh the bad? In the next column, I’ll review the 10 best things Trump did in 2020.