On April 23, 1920, Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech known as "The Man in the Arena." In part it read: "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles. … The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly …"
A Sept. 13, 2020, report found that 35% of the country approves how President Trump is handling the China virus, while 65% disapprove by acting too slowly.
Republican approval is 80%; Democrats, 95% disapproval.
Democrat Sen. Schumer declares, "Trump lied. People died."
Democrat Pelosi claims that Trump was "fiddling" while people died.
Democrat Biden charges that "If the president had done his job … from the beginning, all those people would still be alive."
They all blasted Trump as ignoring science.
Because of length, I will address only the "beginning"– January 2020.
On Dec. 31, 2019, China notified the World Health Organization (WHO) that there were pneumonia cases of unknown cause in Wuhan.
By Jan. 6, 2020, China had ruled out the cases being flu. That day Dr. Fauci categorized the cases as a coronavirus. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notified medical institutions that it was a form of pneumonia.
Between Jan. 6-8, the CDC issued travel warnings, especially travel to China. Those warnings were before the first case in the U.S. was diagnosed.
On Jan. 9, the WHO announced that the problem was a coronavirus and praised China for its "capacity to manage new outbreak."
On Jan. 14, WHO reported that there was "no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission" of the virus.
Three days later, the CDC scientists said the risk "to the American public is currently deemed to be low."
On Jan. 20, WHO announced that there "is at least some human-to-human transmission."
The next day, the CDC confirmed the first case in the U.S., and Dr. Fauci asserted that it "is not a major threat." CDC scientists said, "it’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people."
Also, on Jan. 21, China and the WHO confirmed that the virus could be transmitted human to human.
Because there was only one case and because of the prevailing scientific views from the WHO and CDC, Trump announced that "We have it totally under control." Democrats praised the WHO for their adherence to science.
Biden stated that on Jan. 27, he "warned (Trump) that this pandemic was coming. I talked to him about what we had to do." Biden’s op-ed on the topic has a different tone. He said he was referring to "the possibility of a pandemic" that "will come sooner or later." His advice amounted to international cooperation and Congressional funding if the threat "merited it." At that time, public health officials were wrestling with what this virus was.
That same day, Biden said, "Trump is the worst possible leader to deal with coronavirus outbreak." On that day there were four cases in the U.S.
And Democrats were off and running with their denunciations of the president.
Despite the scientists’ views that there was nothing people "should be worried about," Trump on Jan. 29, eight days after the first diagnosis was confirmed, formed a Coronavirus Task Force.
The next day WHO declared a global public health emergency and the Department of Health and Human Services then declared a Public Health Emergency in the U.S.
On Jan. 31, Trump proclaimed a travel restriction to China.
The next day, Biden declared that "we need to lead the way with science – not Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia and fear-mongering." Was he referring to the travel ban? What hysteria and fear-mongering was he citing?
If Schumer, Pelosi and Biden had been in the arena, what would they have done differently, given the information available at the time?
Exactly what science did President Trump ignore?
Hindsight, Monday morning quarterbacking and staying out of the arena are easy. The 65% who disapprove don’t have their faces marred by dust and sweat and blood. They don’t have to worry about stumbling. They don’t have to put themselves in the shoes of those in the arena.
It is so much easier to criticize and attack and belittle while keeping your own face clean.
Rich Kiper is a Leavenworth Times columnist.