Wednesday, May 13, 2020


A Time interview with Jared Kushner was just released, and this is the part that's getting the most attention:
... Time magazine White House correspondent Brian Bennett ... asked during the live-streamed interview: “Is there any scenario, including a second outbreak in the fall, where the election is moved past November 3rd?”

“That’s too far in the future to tell,” Kushner replied. “Nothing that I’m aware of now ... It’s not my decision to make. I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other. But right now that’s the plan.”

He later tried to explain his remarks to The New York Times, saying: “I have not been involved in, nor am I aware of any discussions about trying to change the date of the Presidential election.”
I know most of you disagree, but I don't believe we have to worry about this. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that there have been discussions about this in Trumpworld, but I think the president is eager to hold the vote -- it's the principal thing he's living for. He's not joking when he says he doesn't believe bad polls -- Power of Positive Thinking again -- and he has good reason to believe that he'll at least be competitive in November. Sure he's losing to Biden in nearly every poll, but the margin is smaller than it was late last year, and it's also smaller than Hillary Clinton's lead at this time in 2016. Trump is getting mediocre marks for his pandemic response, but his overall job approval rating is slightly better than it was for most of his presidency. In a CNN poll released yesterday, 54% of respondents gave the federal government a poor grade for its coronavirus response -- and yet Trump's overall approval rating was 45%, which equals the highest approval rating he's ever received in that poll. (His disapproval rating was 51%.)

It's clear now that not only could Trump shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes, he wouldn't lose any votes if he strangled a kitten on live TV, or soiled himself in the middle of a news conference and then ate his own feces, or ... let tens of thousands of Americans die in a pandemic while he was completely distracted by a vendetta against his predecessor as president. Nothing -- death, an economic depression, personal corruption and incompetence, abuse of government power -- will sink him enough in the polls to make him believe he's going to lose. So why would he postpone the election?

I find what Kushner said at the end of this clip, as part of the discussion of a possible postponement, much more chilling:

When asked if there was a chance the presidential election could be postponed past November 3 due to the pandemic, Kushner said that isn’t his decision. “I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan,” he said.

“Hopefully by the time we get to September, October, November, we’ve done enough work with testing and with all the different things we’re trying to do to prevent a future outbreak of the magnitude that would make us shut down again,” Kushner continued. “I really believe that once America opens up, it’ll be very hard for America to ever lock down again.”
(Emphasis added.)

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."

It's often said that a premature opening could lead to a wave of COVID-19 cases rivaling the first wave, and that this new wave will force the reopened states to shut down again. But 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. (And it's not as if we've got this under control now: Yesterday the country recorded 22,802 new cases and 1,630 new deaths.)

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. A crackdown on proper public health seems much more likely than a postponed election.

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