Trump’s Pyrrhic Strategy

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

One day after the US had passed the number of 200,000 COVID deaths Trump proclaimed that the virus ‘affects virtually nobody,’ at a rally without social distancing and with very few people wearing masks, except in the stand behind the president, so that he would not get infected.  It capped a week in which CDC guidelines about testing (not needed if there are no symptoms) and the virus being airborne (under consideration) were re-written respectively pulled by the White House.  The CDC Director was scolded for emphasizing the importance of masks and giving a realistic timeline for when a vaccine might be available, and Trump pointed out that masks are dangerous because waiters might touch them before touching your food.  The president argued that the number of American deaths is not too bad ‘if you leave the blue states out,’ and seemed to consider ‘herd mentality’ an acceptable alternative for a vaccine.  A former task force aide revealed that Trump considers it a benefit of the virus that he doesn’t have to shake hands with ‘disgusting people,’ and his goons booed the Lt. Gov. of Ohio for urging them to wear masks.  

Maybe the president got carried away by the thought that the death of RBG would push his deliberate mishandling of the pandemic off the front pages, but this is a part of reality he cannot change with wishful thinking.  Because the ACA is on the Supreme Court’s docket in November the replacement of Justice Ginzberg is inextricably linked to the access to healthcare of millions of Americans, the coverage of pre-existing conditions, of which there will be many more due to COVID-19, and the future of Roe v. Wade, which 70% of the population wants to keep in place. Considering the amount of money flowing to Democratic Senate candidates voters realize what’s at stake, and even if the Republicans succeed in getting a sixth conservative on the court – going against the final wish of RBG that she be replaced by the newly elected president, a wish with which 8 in 10 Democrats and 5 in 10 Republicans agree – the increased chance that Democrats will win both the Senate and the White House while holding on to the House gives them plenty of options, blowing up the filibuster and expanding SCOTUS to 11 or 13 members being only one.

Like a suicidal sperm whale approaching a beach at maximum speed Trump announced that he was going to appoint a replacement for RBG while she was not even lying in state yet, en passant effectively calling her granddaughter, who had conveyed the final wish, a liar, and like a parade of lemmings ready to jump off the cliff GOP senators who in 2016 swore that they would never do such a thing announced that they would vote for the appointee.  Obviously it’s altogether fitting and proper that Trump’s shamelessness and Republicans’ hypocrisy peak at the end of his term.

In spite of his busy agenda the president found time to attack FBI Director Chris Ray for flagging a Russian threat to the elections, and to send $13 billion in belated aid to Puerto Rico for a hurricane that hit the island in 2017, hoping to buy its refugees’ votes in Florida.  He also announced the creation of a Commission for Patriotic Education, with the task of developing a ‘pro-American’ curriculum from which presumably all references to black history would be effectively removed.

Never one to stay far behind when there are norms to be violated and opponents to be roughed up Attorney General Barr announced that he was considering sedition charges against mayors of and demonstrators in ‘Democrat’ cities, even though the government is trying as hard as it can to overthrow itself and will most likely be successful long before the first demonstrators would get a court date.

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