Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Reprinted from Heather Cox Richardson, Professor of History at Boston College, with permission.
It appears that the closing argument from the Trump campaign for his reelection was supposed to be that the Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, was overreacting to coronavirus, making fun, for example, of his insistence on wearing a mask and staying distant from others.
Trump was supposed to project strength in the face of the pandemic, suggesting that it has been way overblown by Democrats who oppose his administration and who are thus responsible for the faltering economy.
Then, of course, coronavirus began to spread like wildfire through Trump’s own inner circle after last Sunday’s Rose Garden celebration of Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court seat formerly held by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As Trump and increasing numbers of people in his inner circle began to test positive for the infection, the campaign first floundered, and now appears to be trying to brazen out the idea that the disease is not a big deal, and that Trump has conquered it.
This is insane. Covid-19 has currently infected more than 7 million Americans, and killed more than 210,000 of us, close to the number of Union soldiers—224,097-- who died in our bloody four-year Civil War.
Apparently, it is frustrating Trump that he cannot campaign. Last night, he traveled in a motorcade around Walter Reed Hospital, waving to supporters. The trip horrified medical personnel, who noted that the presidential vehicle is sealed against chemical attack, meaning that the secret service professionals traveling with the president were exposed to a deadly disease for no apparent reason. One of the agents assigned to the First Family told CNN “That never should have happened… The frustration with how we’re treated when it comes to decisions on this illness goes back before this though. We’re not disposable.”
Dr. James P. Phillips, from the Walter Reed Hospital, took to Twitter: “Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential “drive-by” just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”
Even staffers were complaining about the disorganization in the West Wing after Trump’s drive. But things did not get more anchored this morning.
Early on, the president began to tweet at a great pace, in all caps, campaign slogans followed by the word “VOTE!” His promises were random and unanchored in reality, with words like “BIGGEST TAX CUT EVER, AND ANOTHER ONE COMING. VOTE!” According to Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair, the Trump family is divided over Trump’s performance. According to two Republicans close to the family, Don Jr. was worried by the drive around the hospital. “Don Jr. thinks Trump is acting crazy,” said one of the sources. But Ivanka, Eric, and Jared Kushner “keep telling Trump how great he’s doing.” All of them, though, worried about the morning’s tweet storm.
The infection continues to spread through the White House. This morning, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that she, too, has tested positive for coronavirus, a day after she briefed reporters without a mask. Two sources told CNN that two of McEnany’s deputies, Chad Gilmartin and Karoline Leavitt, have also tested positive, along with two members of the White House staff. McEnany said at first the White House was planning to put out the number of staffers infected, but then said it could not, out of “privacy concerns.” But of course there’s no privacy at stake in the raw numbers.
Today we learned that another person who attended the Rose Garden event, Pastor Greg Laurie of the Harvest Christian Fellowship megachurches in California and Hawaii, has tested positive for coronavirus. In addition, thirteen workers who helped to cater a private Trump fundraiser last Thursday in Minnesota are all quarantining.
Although doctors expressed surprise and concern at the idea Trump might leave Walter Reed Hospital today, the president tweeted: “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
Doctors noted that he is in a dangerous period for the progression of Covid-19, and that anyone who had required the sorts of treatments Trump has had is too sick to leave the hospital. “I will bet dollars to doughnuts it’s the president and his political aides who are talking about discharge, not his doctors,” William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University’s medical school, told the Washington Post.
A briefing by Trump’s doctors obscured more than it revealed. The White House physician, Sean Conley, has refused to tell reporters when Trump last tested negative for coronavirus, a piece of information that would tell us when he knew he was infected. He also refused to explain why the president is being treated with a steroid usually reserved for seriously ill patients, or to discuss the state of Trump’s lungs. He did say that the president is “not out of
the woods yet.”
Nonetheless, Trump left Walter Reed Hospital tonight, after lights had been installed to enable him to make a triumphant exit. Still infectious, he went back to the White House and climbed a flight of stairs to a balcony, where he dramatically removed his face mask and saluted well-wishers from a balcony. Although the moment was clearly designed to make Trump look strong, it was obvious he was struggling to breathe.
Vox’s Aaron Rupar noted that “Trump has no choice but to continue to downplay coronavirus (despite 210,000 dead and record new case numbers) because if he changed course, it would be an admission that he was wrong about the defining issue of his presidency -- at the cost of tens of thousands of lives.”
This evening, Trump released a video telling people not to let the coronavirus “dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it…. Don’t let it take over your lives.” CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta dubbed him “Coronavirus in Chief.”
Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden held a town hall tonight in Miami, Florida, where he gave detailed answers to questions about police reform (more money, ban chokeholds and no knock warrants); socialism (“I’ve taken on the Castros of the world. I didn’t cozy up to them”); a mask mandate (the president can only mandate masks on federal property, but he would call on governors and mayors to do the same); and reopening schools (PPE, small classes, ventilation). Watchers noted that it was a treat both to see a normal conversation and to hear detailed, informed answers.
To stay in touch with voters, Biden today began “Notes from Joe,” a daily newsletter.
Bloomberg is reporting that the contrast between the recent craziness of the White House and Biden’s calm detail has led the stock market to stabilize. Strategists are coming to think there will not be a contested election after all. Biden’s lead over Trump increased again after Trump’s debate performance, which apparently was designed to try to bully Biden by hitting triggers until he began to stutter, thus enabling the Trump campaign to portray him as mentally incapacitated. That strategy failed as Biden parried the triggers, and Americans were repelled by Trump’s behavior. Peter Rosenstreich, head of market strategy at Swissquote Bank SA, told Bloomberg, “Polls are shifting from a close election and prolonged uncertainty to more a dominant Biden and clean succession…. That is reducing uncertainty and increasing risk appetite.”
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
A friend sent me a recent New York Times article by Jim Tankersley on Trump's standing on the economy. The bottom line is that Trump is overall still rated better on the economy than Biden. I've been watching that too. It's the only issue running in Trump's favor, but it could be the most important issue. So if he's able to prevail, other than his efforts to cheat and manipulate the voting itself, that's what will have saved him.
The upshot of the article, when you read the details, is that Republicans still think Trump's great on the economy. That's not exactly a shocker. And Democrats think he's horrible. That's also predicable. Beyond that, here's a key passage from the article:
"But the plunge in economic activity since the coronavirus began to spread rapidly in the United States late this past winter has hurt Mr. Trump's standing on economic issues as well as his overall approval. Most polls now find Americans are evenly split on whether they approve of his handling of the issue. Gallup, for example, found Mr. Trump enjoyed a 48 percent approval rating on the economy this month, down from 63 percent in January. The decline was particularly acute among moderates, independents and voters who attended at least some college."
Here's link to the full Gallup Poll quoted above.
So this is the guy who won the three Great Lakes battlegrounds by a combined 78,000 votes in 2016. That's much less than a 1% victory in all three, and he squeaked by in the biggest battleground, Florida, by 1%. Now his standing on the economy has tanked 15%. The decline was "particularly acute" among "moderates and independents," precisely the swing voters. So if, as the article says, almost all Republicans still think he walks on water, and almost all Democrats still think he is Lucifer in the flesh, and their views have scarcely changed from when his economic approval was at 63%, then how much has his economic standing among the third of voters who are moderate and independent declined in order to pull the whole average down by 15 points? Well, the simple arithmetic would put that at around 45%. That's enormous. And again, those are precisely the persuadable people, the "moderates and independents" who are the SWING VOTERS everyone is always talking about.
Trump could still win. The economy is a potential lifeline, as long as his numbers there aren't as terrible as his numbers on everything else. He could also make headway on patriotism, as he defines it, and on fear of demonstrators, as he's trying to do with his "law and order" pitch. But he needs those numbers to get a lot better. The last four national polls that came in last week gave Biden an average 8.5% national lead. In 2016 Trump was able to eke out an electoral win BARELY, with a 2.1% national deficit. As of right now he's losing, and he'll need those economic numbers to improve substantially to reverse that. It may be possible, but they're not there yet. I'm sure he realizes where he stands and will be working hard to try to get there.
Saturday, August 15, 2020
Donald Trump is currently defunding and interfering with the operations of the US Postal Service and is spreading disinformation about the security and efficacy of voting by mail. I am convinced that a big part of Trump's desperation and frantic attempts to cheat come from his realization that once he is out of office his criminal immunity will end and his lap dog Attorney General William Barr won't be there to use the resources of the US government to shield Individual Number One. Joe Biden has already said "no way" when asked if he'd grant Trump a pardon. Trump's tax frauds, obstructions of justice, campaign finance violations, briberies and extortions will all be fair game and the agents he has impugned in the Southern District of New York and the FBI will be more than motivated to take him down. His complicit minions will sing like canaries to save themselves without him in office to grant them pardons and commutations.
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Inaction that cost lives
President Trump did not.
Some local leaders also continued to urge business as usual. In early March, Mayor Bill de Blasio told New Yorkers to “get out on the town despite coronavirus.”
This kind of advice appears to have cost tens of thousands of American lives, according to a new analysis by researchers at Columbia University.
If the U.S. had enacted social-distancing measures a week earlier than it did — in early March rather than mid-March — about 36,000 fewer Americans would have died, the study found. That’s more than one third of the current death toll, which is about 100,000.
If the measures had been in place two weeks earlier, on March 1, the death toll would be 54,000 lower.