I wish one of these geniuses pushing Donnie Two Scoops to reopen the economy on May 1 would ask him this one simple question. Do you want to be the president who, while seeking re-election, fucked up football season?
Because that is exactly what might happen in this football-mad country where most of the top-rated television broadcasts in any given year are NFL games. Last year, it was four of the top five.
So Trump reopens the economy prematurely, sending Americans back to their offices, back to the subways and buses and commuter rail lines, back to the lunchtime lines in sandwich shops, back to the salad bars where 100 or 200 people might touch the lettuce tongs in an hour’s time, back to restaurants, back to movie theaters, back to saloons where they get slobbery drunk and drip saliva across the bar, back to packed mall food courts, back to swimming pools.
Maybe it all goes OK for a little while, and Trump brags that he knows more than all those doctors combined and Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity rhetorically fellate him for days on end, and everybody’s happy.
But eventually, it will turn.
We know this, because every public health expert in the country and the world says the exact same thing: If we’re not comprehensively testing and contact-tracing, it’s going to start up again. You’ve read about asymptomatic carriers and a second wave as much as I have, I’m sure. As much as we all have. Except the one guy who really needs to.
And so, by the fall, there’ll be another outbreak. Maybe football season will start as normal, although I find that pretty hard to imagine right now. Those men exchange a lot of spit in those scrums. And will fans be allowed in the stadiums? Every fifth seat, maybe, something like that? But whatever. If there’s another outbreak in the fall, the season is over. College too, of course. Which kinda matters in, oh, Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and Ohio, to name four electorally random states. Oh, and no World Series, let’s throw that one in.
There will be of course risks of greater consequence than the absence of spectator sports. I’m just saying the no-football scenario might actually penetrate his cane-toad brain where questions about more substantive matters would fail. There’s the simple fact of there being a distinct possibility that if we reopen too soon, we’ll have to shut down again in the fall. How are people going to like that? Being told a second time that they have to stay home for another four to eight weeks. Schools closed again. Restaurants, movies, sports and so on. All Trump’s fault, as millions will recognize.
And how about the economy in a second shutdown rolling across states or even nationwide? How about a 14 percent unemployment rate not in April or May but in October, with an election looming?
The man just gets dumber and more dangerous every week. And he is totally mentally incapable of thinking five months into the future. Totally mentally incapable of processing challenging information. Remember Inside Out, the movie about the emotions inside that little girl’s brain? In Inside Out: The Donald Trump Version, the lead character is Denial, a hulking, rosacea’d, syphilitic, drooling monster voiced by Gilbert Gottfried.
I try to picture someone attempting to explain all the above to him about the risks of reopening too soon, trying to get him to focus on it. Impossible. His brain will turn off. Like the way he asked Alex Azar about vaping. He’ll just start thinking about that beautiful chip shot he made on 17 the last time he golfed and move to wondering when he can play again.
Every week, we learn something new about Trump’s catastrophic incapacity to process grave news, to listen to people begging him to focus. In The New York Times on Sunday, a long article showed that again and again, Trump was only interested in how to spin it, how to win the news cycle. He still hasn’t pushed hard for a national testing plan. It’s beyond mind-boggling.
I want to share with you here the opening two paragraphs of an essay I edited by Ron Klain, which appeared in Democracy, the quarterly journal I edit. This ran in our Spring 2016 issue, OK? Four years ago. I still remember the lunch where Ron, who by then had wrapped up his successful stint containing the Ebola outbreak, pitched me the article. I’m no genius, stable or otherwise, but I was smart enough to know that what he was saying was real.
All right. Not every sentence of these paragraphs is exactly prescient (although who knows, some of these things could yet come true), but overall, this is pretty damn good:
Sometime during the next president’s term, her or his national security team may be summoned to the Oval Office to discuss a catastrophe of historic proportions: more than one millions deaths in just a few weeks in a far corner of the world, sparking the fall of several governments, giving rise to a violent regional conflict over scarce resources, and unleashing a refugee crisis as fleeing victims encounter panic and closed borders at every turn. Worse still, the President will be told, there is an increasing risk that such death and disruption may soon arrive in the United States.
The cause of such a crisis could be a series of terrorist dirty bombs, or a weather disaster (or famine) exacerbated by climate change, or a rogue state with biochemical or nuclear weapons. All of these are possible. But the single most likely cause of such a nightmare scenario is not any of these oft-discussed security threats but an oft-overlooked one: pandemic illness.
The meat of the essay lays out six steps the federal government needed to take to be prepared. It’s not every day that a policy journal can move you to tears, but I literally started crying for our country rereading this piece a couple weeks ago (step one: “get the right structure in place at the White House”).
So much tragedy could have been averted, so many lives saved, if we didn’t have such a selfish moron in the White House. And now he’s going to make it all worse again. Mayday? Mayday!