Who’s Getting The Best Publicity Out Of COVID-19?

That’s all the President seems to care about

At the Red Cross late last week

As in:

Blaming more cases on more testing is so easily disproved that we shouldn’t have to keep doing if. If that was the case then:

  • The number of tests coming back positive should be plunging. They’re not.
  • The number of new cases should be rising in sync with the number of new tests. New cases should not be outpacing new tests. They are.
  • If all the additional testing is doing is detecting mostly mild and asymptomatic cases (you know, the kind that “automatically get better”), as the President keeps claiming, the daily number of deaths should be very, very low. Yet a consistently large number of people keep dying every day.

So the only thing that Tweet really proves is a continued inner belief on Trump’s part that it might be good for him politically to slow testing down. Especially since the rest of it is about COVID-19 cases being red meat for the Left wing; a bonanza for their ratings.

As long as the President keeps Tweeting that kind of stuff–and one of the only things we can safely say right now is that probably will be forever– we can pretty much forget about anything getting done in a unified way.

Well, actually stuff will get done. But only because individuals: business owners large and small, governors and mayors, families, school administrators, are figuring out on their own how to take care of themselves and their communities. For instance, where we live in Massachusetts, the state’s Republican governor just mandated a negative COVID-19 test or mandatory 14-day quarantine for anybody entering the state. There are some exceptions, including most neighboring states, which are considered “low risk” for now. And we’ve seen a lot of people deriding this effort as unenforceable. But that’s not really the point. It’s meant as a deterrent: Why would you come into Massachusetts where you risk getting entangled in $500 a day fines and huge legal fees should you become part of any COVID-19 outbreak, when you could go somewhere else or stay at home? Plus it deters hotel stays and summer home rentals by out-of-staters.

Trump’s only hope really in the vein of what could make him look good politically, is getting a safe, effective vaccine out before Election Day. (At least that’s good; we hope so too.)

Otherwise, his initial message continues to ring loud and clear: “you’re on your own”. And yeah, recently the White House has recently added to that: “wear a mask when you cannot avoid crowded places or socially distance”, but Trump’s also Retweeted viral videos asserting masks are unnecessary.

Not only that, but the testing numbers to which Trump refers are for the entire country, which includes not only the areas with huge flare-ups right now, but also some high population places where the trend has—somewhat bumpily—been going down. So with any competent, centralized plan that was not undermined every couple of days, the country as a whole should at least be looking stable right now, not a lot worse or even see-sawing. Also, in areas that are hard hit right now, testing is still a huge problem.

Politically, COVID-19 right now is a no-win for Trump. And we all know by now he only thinks that way. A weekend article in Vanity Fair is illuminating, but hardly surprising. Contending that back in April when the virus had hit blue states hardest, Trump and his folks determined “a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically”. The Vanity Fair article also quotes a “public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force” saying:

“‘The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy.'”

We’d say that type of thinking might be a little far fetched for any President or administration before this one, beyond maybe a thought momentarily crossing their minds. But with Trump everything is about getting re-elected, and getting even, so with advisors (many of them economic and public relations people, not public health advisors), suggesting the scope of infection would be limited, would be a cold-weather phenomenon, and would soon blow over, it makes perfect sense the President’s second knee-jerk reaction would be to punish people who didn’t vote for him. Or at least leave them to fend largely for themselves because they didn’t help him. (His first knee-jerk reaction was banning foreigners, which was a good move, even though banning is something he almost always immediately turns to, without thought, under almost all circumstances.)

And underscores the point we’ve been trying to make lately: the White House is not staffed these days with people who want to appoint conservative judges,  deregulate everything, slash taxes, and take everyone’s federal benefits away. It’s staffed by bona fide lunatics who of course still want to do all that, but also want to deify their leader, deny he can do anything wrong, and denigrate anyone who opposes their delusions as “hating America”.

President George W. Bush put it well, we think, at Representative John Lewis’ funeral, when he said:

We the people, including congressmen and presidents, can have differing views on how to perfect our union while sharing the conviction that our nation, however flawed, is a good and noble one.”

That idea, my friends, just does not exist in Trump’s America. It’s been beaten to a pulp and will be snuffed out altogether by another Trump victory.

So Trump dismisses COVID-19 cases as nothing more than the radical Left wing foaming at the mouth, and glibly moves on to more pressing items like saying he’s planning on his next ban: TikTok, ostensibly because it’s owned by a company in China, but we all know it’s really because he’s sore KPop fans used it to great effect to mess up his return to political rallies in Tulsa, and probably also to lead him to cancel the next  rally in New Hampshire, which he blamed on bad weather. (Apparently, one of the newest efforts by TikTok kids involves requesting Trump yard signs from his campaign.) But the TikTok kids are versatile and resourceful. If they want to, they’ll find ways.

And even though at the time we wrote this, Trump hadn’t yet made good on his threat of issuing an Executive Order to ban TikTok, he’s also intervened to prevent the sale of its U.S. operations to Microsoft. He doesn’t want it out of China’s hands. He wants it killed.

Sarah Cooper? She can find plenty of other, American-owned outlets where she’ll be free to upload her videos, at least for now. But with the purported TikTok move, we can all see what Trump would do to say, the Washington Post, if he could, just to spite and silence its owner, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. In fact, Trump Tweeted to say he agreed with a Business Insider piece asserting the pandemic has been a big financial boon for some billionaires. But look closer and it’s pretty easy to figure out that the same guy who lavished tax cuts on America’s richest of the rich agrees with one story critical of the wealthy because that one story zeroes in on Bezos.

And once the President’s got “this is all because my testing is so great” behind him he can also start lambasting Democrats for refusing to extend COVID-19 related unemployment benefits. Except of course the Democratically controlled House did extend benefits in a bill they passed weeks ago. It’s Republicans and the White House that are holding it up, and the “great” Republican plan Trump loves so much would’ve extended by one week, giving Republicans more time to figure out how much to cut from a future bill. Yet another thing he’s only jumped into because he thinks it’ll score him political points. But you know, if the President was getting himself caught up more in this kind of thing, it’d almost be refreshing, because it’s closer to typical political posturing and deal making. Not outlandish blame-shifting and responsibility dropping that we’re supposed to believe is not utterly shameful.