Tuesday, February 25, 2020


As I noted in my last post, President Trump is trying to persuade America that the coronavirus outbreak poses no threat to our country. He's now being seconded by National Economic Council head Larry Kudlow. (“We have contained this. I won’t say [it’s] airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight.”)

But Tucker Carlson knows it's time for the right to seize the initiative and do what right-wingers always do when something bad happens: blame it on liberals.
... Tucker Carlson believes he has found the reason for the spread of the virus; 'wokeness.'

The outspoken US conservative highlighted articles from several news outlets that warned against people resorting to xenophobia when warning others about the virus.

He said:
For weeks the media told you it was wrong to worry about the coronavirus, a mysterious, highly communicable lethal disease spreading rapidly around the world.

If that concerns you in any way, if you think maybe we ought to take some steps to protect ourselves from it, then you're a bigot.

Countless publications wagged their fingers in the face of readers, and told them it was irrational, probably immoral in fact to worry about the coronavirus than the annual flu.

Identity politics trumped public health and not for the first time. Wokeness is a cult. They would let you die before they admitted that diversity is not our strength.

Rush Limbaugh also seized the moment -- and leveled the exact opposite charge at liberals, or at least at the "liberal media": They're being overly alarmist.
RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): Folks, this coronavirus thing, I want to try to put this in perspective for you. It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump. Now, I want to tell you the truth about the coronavirus. You think I’m wrong about this? You think I’m missing it by saying that’s -- Yeah, I’m dead right on this. The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.

The drive-by media hype of this thing as a pandemic, as the Andromeda strain, as, “Oh, my God. If you get it, you’re dead,” do you know what the — I think the survival rate is 98%. Ninety-eight percent of people who get the coronavirus survive. It’s a respiratory system virus....

I believe the way it’s being weaponized is by virtue of the media, and I think that it is an effort to bring down Trump, and one of the ways it’s being used to do this is to scare the investors, to scare people in business.
Will conservatives eventually settle on one line of coronavirus demagoguery? Or will they let a hundred demagogic flowers bloom?

They might reconcile these two messages and deploy both. If there are outbreaks in America -- some government officials think they're inevitable, as do the experts quoted in this smart and chilling Atlantic article -- it seems likely that they'll take place in population centers rather than suburbs, exurbs, or rural communities. Either that or they'll turn up in unexpected locations because someone traveled overseas.

Most Americans never travel. Trumpism is popular among the untraveled; they're suspicious of people who gad about the planet rather than settling into a small town or gated retirement village. They'll regard this as a disease of rootless cosmopolitanism -- or, rather, as a disease rootless cosmopolitans have spread to simple, decent, travel-averse Volk. If the disease bypasses their own communities, they might agree with Carlson on the reasons for the virus's spread and echo Limbaugh on how dangerous it is. (Heck, they don't know anyone who's got it!) It will be like city crime -- something they're obsessed with and that they blame us for, even though they never personally experience it.

I think some of us expect that this will be the crisis that exposes the Trump administration's weaknesses. I worry that if right-wingers have someone to scapegoat, they won't care how bad things get, epidemiologically or financially. They'll cling to a president who seems to distrust foreigners as much as they do, and he'll soon learn how to demagogue the illness from his favorite TV hosts. Let's not assume that this will be Trump's Katrina. It could be Trump's 9/11 -- a preparation failure with disastrous consequences that he manages to turn to his political advantage.

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