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A party beyond parody


The Party of Ideas (TM) has an innovative solution to the coronavirus pandemic:

Trump administration officials are holding preliminary conversations about economic responses to the coronavirus, as the stock market fell sharply again on Friday amid international fears about the outbreak, according to five people with knowledge of the planning.

Among the options being considered are pursuing a targeted tax cut package, these people said. They have also discussed whether the White House should lean even harder on the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates, though the central bank on Friday afternoon said it would step in if necessary.

No decisions at the White House have been reached on these options, and officials stressed conversations remained preliminary and extremely fluid.

Vice President Pence’s office is involved in the discussion of possible responses, two people said.

In a way, it’s understandable that a presidency that owes so much of its existence to Rupert Murdoch would believe that new realities can be conjured ex nihilo. But people getting sick and dying is something that can’t be easily propagandized away, and markets are not going to be reassured unless the Trump administration demonstrates some actual ability to address the pandemic. Needless to say, this is impossible because the administration is not merely devoid of but actively opposed to administrative competence and expertise, so here we are. Needless to say, aggrieved conspiracy theorizing will remain in the arsenal:

President Trump is now fully embracing the conspiracy theory that his assorted enemies are deliberately hyping the coronavirus threat, all to damage him politically. At his Wednesday news conference, Trump agreed with Rush Limbaugh’s suggestion that Trump’s foes are “weaponizing” the outbreak against him.

There is something deeply dangerous about this idea that might escape initial scrutiny. So let’s be clear: This cannot be described with the usual head-in-the-sand media euphemisms. This isn’t just spin. It isn’t just crazy Trump being crazy Trump. It isn’t just Trump flooding the zone with chaos.

Instead, it poses a direct threat to the notion of accountability in government. This is thrown into sharp relief by coronavirus, at a time when it’s particularly urgent that the government operate neutrally, with the branches interacting in good faith.

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