Greg Sargent sums up where we’re at. The Trump administration has given up any pretense of trying to address the COVID-19 pandemic as a public health problem. Rather, it intends to treat it as a political problem, one best handled by convincing Americans that everything is fine.
A window into the inner workings of this effort has just been thrown wide open by Vice President Pence, who reportedly told governors on a conference call to emphasize the role of increased testing in creating reported spikes in coronavirus cases.
Of course, this isn’t true.
On that conference call, Pence encouraged governors to “explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing,” not merely because more testing might be a good thing, but also because this is the primary cause of the “marginal rise in number” of coronavirus cases.
This is deceptive. As a new Post analysis finds, in six states, the seven-day average of new cases has gone up in the past two weeks even as average testing has dropped. In another 14 states, the seven-day average of new cases is rising faster than the average of new tests.
Meanwhile, that analysis finds, in 10 states, the rise in positive testing has been edging up in the past two weeks, a key metric for gauging Pence’s claim and the need for worry about spread.
It’s not clear if the White House knows that and has simply decided that holding onto power is more important than protecting American lives, or if Trump and his cronies are too far down the right-wing media rabbit hole to listen to their own experts. At some level, it doesn’t matter. No matter the reason, it’s just more evidence that the entire Trump administration is morally compromised and totally unfit to govern.
Sargent points out that something very similar is happening when it comes to economic policy.
Here again the pattern is clear. As Paul Krugman points out, Trump and his team have long taken the “rising market as validation” for everything they do, which risks enabling the “irresponsibility” of an administration that doesn’t “want to deal with reality in the first place.”
And so, the desire to feed the illusion that we’re already vaulting back to greatness (whether by absurdly citing upticks in jobs or hailing the market) itself makes it less likely that Trump — and Republicans — will agree to more economic measures that would minimize long-term misery.
But perhaps that’s not such a terrible thing, because if the Trump administration isn’t using the last tranche of stimulus as a way of rewarding friends, allies, and even themselves, it sure has a funny way of showing it.
It’s not enough to merely defeat Trumpism at the ballot box. Trump and the Republican party need the kind of electoral armageddon that leaves Trumpism radioactive for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, recent polling suggests that we might – and I stress might – be looking at just such a possibility.