When Reality Doesn’t Follow the Plan

The plan, obviously, is to reopen businesses as soon as possible so that the economy will be roaring by November, and Trump will get credit and be re-elected. Another facet of this plan is to blame the pandemic on China, and then tie Joe Biden to China, and Trump will be re-elected. Easy peasy.

Anita Kumar reports for Politico,

President Donald Trump and his aides aren’t just weighing coronavirus infection rates as they push for a quick economic restart. They think it’s good politics, too.

Trump aides and allies say they are growing confident that an earlier restart amid the coronavirus pandemic could help the president in his reelection campaign, according to six people close to the White House or Trump campaign.

They point to emerging signs around the country. Trump-supported activists are protesting strict stay-at-home orders. Conservative groups’ internal polling in red-leaning and swing states show a significant uptick in Americans who favor reopening the country. A growing chorus of Republican lawmakers across the nation are on board.

“If you don’t see something start to happen … you’re going to see a conservative revolt by our base,” said Adam Brandon, president of FreedomWorks, a conservative group which recently polled on reopening the economy. “The worst strategy for him is to keep things shut until August. Trump is basically going to win or lose his election right now, in the next month.”

Okay. What could go wrong?

If the consequences weren’t so high, this might be amusing. It’s a bit like watching someone deliberately step on a rake to see what happens. But of course they’re playing fast and loose with people’s lives, so it isn’t funny.

The right-wing media has been playing along, promoting the idea that the isolation measures are a gross overreaction and that the covid-19 pandemic is no more dangerous than past flu vaccines. And, always, the pandemic framework is framed as an “us versus them” issue — Donald Trump versus everybody else.

And as Trump’s incompetence and negligence has hamstrung the U.S. from sensibly returning to economic activity, the message has become let’s just do it, anyway. Trump briefly flirted with the conceit of being a “war leader” against an “unseen enemy,” but now he’s moved on to washing his hands of the whole mess. Being a national leader during a crisis is hard. Let’s just pretend the pandemic isn’t happening, or if it is happening, it’s not that big a deal.

Paul Waldman wrote,

It’s something he’s very experienced at. You have a big, splashy event in front of the cameras announcing that you’ve built the most luxurious hotel or golf course or casino the world has ever seen, and then if it goes bankrupt, you skedaddle out of town, leaving other people holding the bag. So now Trump is preparing to put that experience to work with the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crash it created.

A few days ago Trump was putting on a big “I’m in charge” act; now he’s telling the governors they’re on their own. Yesterday he was lashing out at governors because they were screwing up getting people tested. Apparently the next plan is to force the reopening of the country so that things can go back to the way they were, and if a few geezers in nursing homes don’t make it, blame Democrats.

So now social distancing is quickly becoming unpatriotic in some circles. For example: Rep. Jim Jordan, a guy we all came to know and not love during the impeachment hearings, is calling on the House Judiciary Committee to investigate governors who instituted strict social distancing orders.

Now we’re seeing Trump supporters dutifully turning out to protest isolation measures.

The events — some, like in Michigan, featuring thousands of attendees — are organized largely by conservative groups calling state-based measures too draconian. Some of the groups have posted links and images on Facebook that downplay the seriousness of the virus. And other leaders have advocated against following CDC guidelines, like a ban on big gatherings and wearing face masks (because wearing them would be “counterproductive.”) Some of the protests have taken on the feel of 2016 Trump campaign rallies, with participants wearing Make America Great Again hats and waving flags emblazoned with the president’s face. …

… The displays are tapping into Trump’s main message on the coronavirus pandemic: governors are to blame for the crisis, not him. As the president ratchets up his reelection efforts, his argument is an effort to simultaneously put the brunt of responsibility for the coronavirus catastrophe on the shoulders of his political opponents while also maintaining that he holds “total authority” over the pandemic and the states facing it.

These people have been assured that the danger of the virus has been overblown; they have no clue what kind of risks they are taking. Will Bunch:

The everyday folks who were out there in Lansing or Columbus this week were largely there to serve the interests of the (mostly) rich and powerful people who used their influence to shoo them out there. Their agendas weren’t always the same. Most notably, President Trump — who promoted the rallies and even the right to carry weapons in an even-stunning-by-Trump-standards series of tweets — desperately wants to shift blame away from his multiple failures on the coronavirus and instead onto public-health-minded governors. Right-wing special interests, like the billionaire family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, are terrified that the 22 million unemployed will demand a social welfare state. Fox News is eager to make folks forget its dangerous ignore-the-virus punditry.

But the endgame and the shared interests are very much the same. Distraction, and a diversion of anger in the Heartland — an anger with legitimate and understandable roots — away from them, and hopefully onto the political enemies who threaten their power. If it all sounds painfully familiar, it should. This is the Tea Party Redux, except this time with the added thrill of a seeming death wish among the participants. Maybe we should call this one the Ventilator Party, or maybe the Branch COVID-ians.

Nobody who has any real understanding of either epidemiology or the economy thinks that restarting now is a good idea. Paul Krugman:

The thing is, as far as I can tell epidemiologists are united in the belief that it’s far too soon to be considering any relaxation of social distancing. The lockdowns across America do seem to have flattened the curve, allowing us to — just — avoid completely overwhelming the health care system. New cases may have peaked. But you don’t want to let up until you’re in a position to do so without giving the pandemic a second wave. And we’re nowhere close to that point.

So where is this coming from? I’ve seen some people portray it as a conflict between epidemiologists and economists, but that’s all wrong. Serious economists know what they don’t know — they recognize and respect experts from other disciplines. A survey of economists found almost unanimous support for “tolerating a very large contraction in economic activity until the spread of infections has dropped significantly.”

No, this push to reopen is coming not from economists but from cranks and cronies. That is, it’s coming on one side from people who may describe themselves as economists but whom the professionals consider cranks — people like Navarro or Stephen Moore, who Trump tried unsuccessfully to appoint to the Federal Reserve Board. And on the other, it’s coming from business types with close ties to Trump who suffer from billionaire’s disease — the tendency to assume that just because you’re rich you’re also smarter than anyone else, even in areas like epidemiology (or, dare I say it, macroeconomics) that require a great deal of technical expertise.

I could go on about the non-meritocracy we’re living in that allows cranks and idiots to be in charge, but I’ll save that for another time.

We’ve already seen that some nations that have been doing much better than us experienced a “second wave” of virus as they relaxed restrictions. We may have peaked in some places, but we’re possibly weeks away from peaking in other places, especially as the Trumpie protesters take their newly virus-loaded selves back to their neighborhoods.

This is not going to end well.

Anti-social distancing protesters in Michigan.

12 thoughts on “When Reality Doesn’t Follow the Plan

  1. GOP POV"

    When reality doesn't fit the plan, lie about both the reality and the plan.

    And if there's one thing we all can be sure tRUMP knows how to do, it's lie!

    tRUMP cares about the ee-con-o-mee, not the DOA?

    He's yakking right now on MSNBC (as usual, I have him on mute).


    I dunno!!!

  2. I am looking forward to this read:

    "I could go on about the non-meritocracy we’re living in that allows cranks and idiots to be in charge, but I’ll save that for another time."

    So Trump knows he is political toast without playing the long shot?  I would say his behavior is supportive and validates that view and he does speak with the forked tongue.

  3. The phrase "anti-social distancing protestors" is ambiguous. Does it mean protestors who are anti social distancing, or to distancing protestors who are anti-social?

    I have the same grammatical problem with "anti-sex harassment force" and "anti-voter fraud group". Force against sex harassment, or harassment force against sex? Group against voter fraud, or fraud group against voters?

  4. Collective Republican declaration: It's not our fault!


    This message brought to you by the Party of Personal Responsibility™

  5. Exacerbate the divide. That's where Trump finds safety among chaos. One thing that should be apparent after 4 years of Trump's antics is that he's not looking out for the American people. He's in it for himself!

  6. Jim Jordan? Is that the same Jim Jordan who turned a blind eye to his team mates being fondled and sodomized by the team doctor? Gee, what kind of a team captain does that?

    • Oh, Jim Jordan wasn't the team captain, He was the team coach. If I were the team coach, and one of the members of the team went to see the Doc for an ingrown toenail and ended up getting a prostate exam, I think I would have coached them that something ain't right.

       I could be wrong, maybe in sports medicine giving everybody a basket check regardless of what ails them is a sound practice. If that's the case, my apologies to Jim Jordan for looking the other way for what appeared to molestations.

  7. Bring it on. Either Trump and his cabal are right, or the country will get sick and (eventually) wise up to them. Bring it on.

  8. SNL can do a skit of goal posts built onto a railroad car attached to the Trump Train. Example: When Team Trump could not roll out testing at all, the promises for many tests tomorrow from Pence became a joke. Finally tests rolled out and Trump claimed we did more tests than S. Korea. That was a fact but a distorted one – N. Korea has one-sixth the population of the US. When the US overtook the world in most fatalities, Trump claimes we were doing WAY better than Spain or Italy because the US has a greater population. Which standard are you gonna use? Straight count or per-capita? A day later, we're not actually the world leader in body bags – 'everybody' knows China has more fatalities than the rest of the world. On one day, Trump has unlimited power over governors – now governors have to figure out testing by themselves. The problem with tests is Obama – he left a faulty test. That's a whopper – the virus didn't exist in Obama's watch. The faulty test was developed by Trump's CDC.  The only accurate statement I can think of is, "I accept no responsibility."

    Here's a pair of facts: The US has 4% of the world's population and 25% of global COVID fatalities.

    This week Trump's been dragging his feet on testing. A few days he said we don't need mass testing. Wall Street told Trump that the issue is consumer confidence which mass testing was an essential part of. My guess is that Trump was going to shut off federal funding for testing and impede availability of the reagent. (Opinion) Many states can't borrow and can't afford mass testing. Less testing means a decline in new cases – so new cases (not fatalities) would be the metric to justify opening the country. That's blown up (but I still expect Trump will try to back out of testing and funding testing.) 

    Statistically, the Tea Party demonstrations mean nothing in terms of COVID spread, The attitude that the virus is a hoax to hurt Trump may have repercussions which keep the infection and fatality numbers flat (not descending.) The way COVID decimated the leadership in Iran is curious – if the most active generals in the anti-quarantine movement keep taking risks AND they keep conferring in person (which they will because electronic meetings can be intercepted) the top Tea Party anarchists may snuff themselves. Wouldn't that be sad.

  9. I am so sick of Trump.  Today I have an appt. with my doctor and I think I will ask him for some pills to make Trump go away.  Seriously, I feel that if he gets reelected this country is toast.  I know it's wrong to wish something bad to happen to him but if there's a God he surely must have mercy on us.  In my fantasy thinking, I see Trump as the anti-Christ and the virus as the savior sent by the aliens.  I realize this is science fiction but if I were a writer, I could write a really good story. 

    Anyway, I still see this virus as a blessing and we may not realize it until this passes.  Sometimes it is difficult to see the truth when it's right in front of us and we're in pain.  In the meantime, just keep walking and take one day at a time.  After all, the moment is all we truly have.

    • grannyeagle, It's not wrong to wish for divine justice. A little misery in Trump's life might be just the ticket to make him reflect on the misery he sows in the lives of so many people. When you read the Psalms, the writer ( whom many say was David) makes no bones about wanting injustice and the people who perpetrate injustice dealt with by god in the harshest terms. Knocking out their teeth, crushing their bones, grinding them into dust, or devoured by wild animals.

       I'll skip the nuance of whether the writer's wish is figurative or literal. I'll go for the literal because that's what Trump needs. A good bout with hardship, deprivation, and loss just might spark an ember of compassion in his barren soul. Bag of shit that he is.

       Anyway, you're no alone in your thinking. Whatever bad thing you wish for Trump you can multiply it by 10 to get an understanding of what I wish for him. A good dose of misery and suffering.


  10. Swami:  Thanx for that.  I have no problem leaving Trump to God and divine justice.  Guess I get confused sometimes about what I want and what God wants.  Maybe I am just human and let my emotions get the best of me.  Add to that my Irish personality of getting "all  fired up" and the thoughts follow.  I do believe in karma and people reaping what they sow.  And some people never see the light until the day they die.  Probably for others it takes a little longer.  I believe we are all on a path back to our creator, no matter how long it takes or how bumpy the road is.

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