Friday, May 22, 2020


There were a couple of weeks when President Trump appeared to be taking the coronavirus seriously. They coincided with some of the best approval ratings the ratings-obsessed president has ever had. You'd think that would have been enough to persuade him to stay the course and urge caution until effective testing and tracing could be put in place nationwide, assuming he could figure out a way to make that happen (or empower governors to do it and then take the credit). But then he was persuaded that he couldn't win reelection without forcing the economy open prematurely, even though it was obvious that customers would be reluctant to return (as has proved to be the case). Or maybe his rich donors threatened to abandon him if he didn't support a forced reopening. Or maybe it was all Jared Kushner's idea.

Whatever the motivation, Trump is now telling us that he won't support a second shutdown no matter how bad a second wave of infections gets.
President Donald Trump on Thursday said “we are not closing our country” if the U.S. is hit by a second wave of coronavirus infections.

“People say that’s a very distinct possibility, it’s standard,” Trump said when asked about a second wave during a tour of a Ford factory in Michigan.

“We are going to put out the fires. We’re not going to close the country,” Trump said. “We can put out the fires. Whether it is an ember or a flame, we are going to put it out. But we are not closing our country.”
Some of us have shown that we can put out the fires. Infection and death rates here in New York State are down significantly. But the numbers are up in states such as Texas, Florida, and even California. Nationwide, we're doing a bit better, but we still have roughly 20,000 new cases a day. That's a million new cases every seven weeks. And scientists think it might get worse in the fall?

Trump talks about putting out fires, but if the fires are bad enough, closures will be necessary to put them out.

So he's telling us he'll let the country burn.

I warned you about this last week. When Jared Kushner gave that interview to Time, most people focused on his non-committal response when he was asked whether Trump might try to postpone the presidential election. But I was concerned about this sentence from the interview:
“I really believe that once America opens up, it’ll be very hard for America to ever lock down again.”
I wrote:
Kushner doesn't say, "I really believe that once America opens up, we won't need to ever lock down again." He says "it'll be very hard."

... I worry that the plan is to pressure -- or compel -- the states not to shut down again, even if they have a bad wave of cases. The White House, congressional Republicans, and the right-wing plutocrats they listen to appear to be hellbent on keeping the economy open no matter how many people are getting sick or dying....

When Kushner says that "once America opens up, it’ll be very hard for America to ever lock down again," I hear that as "we intend to make it very hard for America to ever lock down again" -- by withholding federal aid from locked-down states, by refusing to extend another federal call for social distancing, and by propagandizing against additional shutdowns. I think the Trumpers, the congressional GOP, and the plutocrat wingnuts want us just to work and die (and shop) through the rest of this pandemic, and they're going to do everything they can to avoid a repeat of the measures that got us under 30,000 new cases and 2,000 deaths a day.
That's clearly the plan. As they see it, they gave in to the libs and the science eggheads once, and they're not going to do that again. They won't care how many ICUs are overrun. (The ICUs are overrun right now in Montgomery, Alabama.) Americans just assume that nothing will ever been done in this country to alleviate inequality, drug addiction, gun violence, or crumbling infrastructure -- and yet Republicans just keep getting elected, despite their refusal to address any of those issues seriously. The Trumpers clearly assume that they can treat the coronavirus the same way, with the same electoral results, even if hundreds of thousands die.

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