Let us praise progress, however slight. The president made his first concessions to the virus when he cancelled his Jacksonville convention for “health concerns.” Doesn’t it follow then that he’ll have to drop his insistence on opening schools for the same reason? Children are surely as important as GOP donors and delegates.
Don’t be silly. Trump will do no such thing. He didn’t give up the parts of the job he likes most—the pageantry, the martial music, the idolatry of fawning courtiers thanking God for him—over anyone’s well-being. He was terrified there would be more no-shows at his party than drop-outs from a Zoom conference on accounts receivable.
The president is merrily proceeding to endanger the country’s children, ignoring the grim consequences likely to follow, absent the miracle cure he keeps looking for, like Reagan searching for a pony in the manure. His goal isn’t to eradicate the disease but to create the optical illusion that we can all return to a normal world in which kids go to school and parents go to work and he holds rallies like any other red-blooded American incumbent.
There’s a cautionary tale for Trump in America’s pastime. He no doubt hated the season opener between the Nationals and the Yankees, Dr. Fauci throwing out the first pitch, every player taking a knee. But he should be more disturbed that right after that, six Miami Mariners’ games had to be called off and an already complicated schedule reshuffled when 15 players and coaches tested positive.
If Major League Baseball, with testing and tracing not seen outside the White House, everyone living under laboratory conditions with money to pay for it, can’t send men in peak physical health onto a wide-open field without the virus intruding, how can children, less like professional athletes than bar-hoppers during happy hour, laughing until apple juice, and droplets, squirt out their noses, be crammed into often aging classrooms indoors with poor ventilation safely? Just because Trump says so?
He can ignore the MLB commissioner as he did federal officials labeling 21 states red (hot) zones Tuesday, joining 28 yellow states, and 150,000 citizens already dead. That’s just another piece of the Democrat-Sino plot to make him look bad. The virus is personally unfair to him, as is everyone jumping on him for having eight calls with Vladimir Putin in which he never mentioned his placing bounties on the heads of American soldiers.
Or that mean Nancy Pelosi rejecting his $200 instead of $600 for destitute workers while he slipped in $1.75 billion for a new FBI building to keep a competitor from building a hotel across from Trump International. Or the crowd that didn’t come to Tulsa and the hot sun that made him sweat during the Chris Wallace interview when inside he was cool, and as “cognitively with it,” as a cucumber.
Reality keeps injecting itself into his version of the virus, like the box in the corner of the TV screen that auto-corrects him with running stats on cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Last week In Florida, there were 31,150 cases among those under 18, a 34 percent jump from the week before, as well as 303 hospitalizations, and the death of a 9-year-old.Trump’s trip to an oil rig and fundraiser in west Texas Wednesday afternoon got a nasty shock when Texas congressman and former anti-mask cult leader Louie Gohmert couldn’t make it because he’d just tested positive.
The virus is spreading so rapidly the question isn’t just whether schools should reopen but whether everything should re-close. Google execs testifying before Congress Wednesday decided no employees would need to come back to the office for another year. Closings are haphazard without federal leadership, but bars and restaurants and gyms are shutting down in the quick-to-reopen states like Texas and Georgia.
Masks, which Trump conceded are patriotic to wear, although not while partying at his hotel or in the White House driveway, or on any trips this week, are gaining acceptance. There’s less coughing in the face of elites wearing them, more of the MAGA, no-one-tells-me-what-to-do crowd risking ridicule and tying one on.
There’s still a vestigial belief that a president will do no harm—intentionally. Yes, mistakes galore, attention to image over substance, hiring yes-men and women who won’t tell him when he’s doing something wrong, like refusing to honor John Lewis. But pretending there’s not a killer loose in the country that can reach children is beyond comprehension. There’s not a monster in the Oval Office, is there?
Trump spent the week tempting us to answer that question with a yuge yes. At Tuesday’s briefing, Trump used up precious time going on about why Anthony Fauci has better approval ratings than he does, claiming the doctor only exists insofar as Trump empowers him, which he doesn’t since Fauci is a public servant. Pause and imagine the clover we’d be in if, as six other presidents have, Trump listened to him. Descend from the clouds and be sickened by Steve Bannon’s op-ed, shared by Trump, accusing Fauci of unspeakable crimes against humanity.
Then ponder the video the president and Don Jr. retweeted produced by a group of doctors, or at least people in lab coats, spewing harmful misinformation: kids can go back to school, we don’t need to wear masks, and we do need to take hydroxychloroquine, a drug Trump still hawks despite FDA disapproval. While Trump called Fauci an alarmist, he called lead spokesperson Dr. Stella Emanuel “impressive” and “spectacular.” She believes DNA from aliens are therapeutic and gynecological problems are the result of sex with demons.
And this is the man we’re going to follow back to P.S. 13? His tactics are diabolic, playing on parents’ first instinct to do what’s best for their children, and their second, which is to trust that a president—and father—wouldn’t abuse that instinct. Trump is right that kids do need socialization and don’t need another semester of parents missing work to teach new math using old math, rendering a generation unable to do long division.
Just as nothing is the way it was, school isn’t school since COVID-19 hit. Even though Trump browbeat the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into softening their safety guidelines or risk losing more of its jurisdiction, a misuse of power up there with commuting Roger Stone’s sentence, there’s no saying the measures will protect children. The CDC recommendations will glue kids in place, six feet away from a teacher at all times. Recess, PE, lunch? At your desk. Art? No sharing of paint brushes or chalk. Music? No singing, after what happened to that choir in Seattle. How will kids get to school in the first place when one child will take up a whole row of seats? Buses are harder to come by than RV’s.
Trump is now saying he’s going to move the convention to the White House. The show as “telerally,” a word he’s just applied to trademark, must go on. He should consider adding “teleschool,” which his son will be attending instead of returning to his private one in September after administrators decided it wouldn’t be safe. There’s no evidence Trump tried to change their minds.
Yet, he keeps trying to change ours, to convince us that what he’s saying is real and the dying is not. Think of him giving a cognitive skills test and the country in unison reciting: School. Safe. Child. Mine. Not. And doing it twice.