There’s nothing wrong with some healthy, moderate criticism of how the Trump administration has handled the response to the coronavirus, and we would naturally expect for Democrats to even take it a step further in the name of politics. Let’s not pretend that they’re the only ones guilty of knocking an opposition president in a time of crisis.
But there’s a radical difference between some accurate criticism (even if the Democrats running for president can’t quantify exactly how their response would have been meaningfully different) and actively turning COVID-19 into a political cudgel with which to raise funds. That’s what Joe Biden was doing on Thursday when he sent out an email to supporters which simultaneously served as a warning about the coronavirus and…a solicitation asking for donations to the campaign.
Appearing on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, former Bush adviser Karl Rove said it was beyond the pale for Biden to raise money off the fear and panic surrounding the disease.
After Hannity called Biden’s actions “sick,” Rove held up a whiteboard and read excerpts from the email.
“Here’s the front page of the e-mailer, sent out about 7:40 p.m. tonight,” Rove said. “‘Here’s a speech I gave this afternoon. This is a long email, but I hope you read it all the way through and forward it to family and friends.’”
Rove continued: “The final page has a ‘Donate to Joe Biden’ button on it. He’s raising money off of it. Here’s what it says at the end: ‘This is not the time to be complacent — If you are ready to fight for the soul of the nation, you can start by donating to elect Joe Biden by clicking the button below, donate to Joe Biden.’”
Rove said that Biden should be ashamed of himself for profiting from a serious health emergency.
“The man is raising money off of the coronavirus challenge facing our country,” Rove said, “Does he have no shame? Is there no decency that says, you know what? There are some moments when we shouldn’t be taking things and use them for crass political purposes. He’s using it for prospecting!”
Like we said, we don’t necessarily approve of Democrats using this opportunity to criticize President Trump, but we expected as much. But at this point, they’re working against their own stated goals. They insist that the administration take this disease more seriously, but what message does it send when they wrap that message around a fundraising request? It only confirms in many people’s minds that this is being overblown as a way to damage Trump’s chances at re-election.
Put simply: Messages of warning are better received when there isn’t an obvious political motivation behind them. Including your donation button in an email like this makes it so obvious a baboon could discern it. This isn’t leadership, it’s crass opportunism.