Let’s Talk About Personal Responsibility

Trump’s medical team says Trump is doing just grand and that Trump might be discharged tomorrow. Whatever. The only thing I know for certain is that we don’t know anything for certain. The White House and Trump’s doctors can’t be trusted to tell us the truth. So we’ll see what happens.

But I want to talk about personal responsibility. Remember when Republicans called themselves the “party of personal responsibility”? They’re still doing it for all I know. What they meant by that is that ordinary people are supposed to take care of themselves without depending on government so that government can focus on taking care of rich people. But really, the whole concept of “personal responsibility doesn’t seem to be something they grasp.

Let’s review: In the age of covid-19, personal responsibility looks like this:

Figure One: A Biden Press Conference. July 2020. The Independent (UK) photo

Personal responsibility does not look like this:

Figure Two: Amy Coney Barrett nomination announcement and virus spreading event, the former White House rose garden, September 26, Voice of America photo

All the people at this event other than Trump who have tested positive this past week were in the first two rows. You may not be able to make him out, but Attorney General Bill Barr is in the first row. And Attorney General Bill Barr has decided he doesn’t need to quarantine himself. Where do they find these people? I hope somebody starts a betting pool on when Barr announces he’s positive. I’m taking Thursday, October 8, 11;36 pm.

At Vanity Fair, Gabriel Sherman writes that some Trumpers are having a hard time understanding the whole virus spread thing.

Inside Trumpworld, the shock of Trump’s hospitalization is giving way to despair about his prospects in the upcoming election. “They all know it’s over,” a Republican close to the campaign said. “This is spiraling out of control,” a former West Wing official said. Some Trump allies are entertaining conspiracy theories that the White House outbreak was caused by someone with political motives. “It’s weird that all these Republicans are getting it,” a prominent Republican told me. “I don’t know what the fuck is going on. But one thing I’ve learned is: when something major happens thirty days before an election, it usually has to do with the election.” (There is no evidence for this wild claim).

It’s not weird at all that a cluster of Republicans are getting the virus. Just see Figure One and Figure Two, above. That explains it all.

Also at Vanity Fair, see Charlotte Klein:

Despite being at least the third Republican senator to test positive for COVID-19 within the last 24 hours, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin still doesn’t think mask mandates are a good idea. On Saturday, hours after announcing he had contracted the coronavirus, the GOP lawmaker reportedly said that masks may help reduce the risk of infection but are “certainly not a cure-all” and should be an “individual responsibility.” Johnson’s comments come a day after Republicans who control the legislature moved to strike down Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate. Meanwhile, the swing state has seen a surge of COVID-19 cases in recent days, surpassing daily records for new cases and deaths and raising concerns over Wisconsin’s hospital capacity.

Many things should be an individual responsibility, Senator. But since too many people lack the sense God gave turnips, somebody has to set rules.

Charlotte Klein goes on to explain that while a senator may participate in hearings virtually, when the time comes for a floor vote on something — like, say, Amy Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court — senators have to be there in person. That means having a bunch of Republican senators out with the covid could interfere with Mitch McConnell’s quickie nomination process. Heh.

Going back to whatever shape Trump is in now — we really don’t know. He released a short video that at least shows us he’s not on a ventilator, and he has released a couple of photographs that make it appear he is doing presidential stuff, but the photos are being slammed as being staged. And I don’t much care if Mike Pence is standing by to resume command or not, because Trump never did the job of POTUS, anyway.

See also Little evidence that White House has offered contact tracing, guidance to hundreds potentially exposed.

Update: The toddler-in-chief briefly left the hospital so he could be driven around to wave at supporters. Seriously. If the driver gets covid, he should sue.