America is about to pass the cruel threshold of 250,000 dead, more than the death toll from World War I, Vietnam, Korea, and the Revolutionary War combined. A million children have been infected. The American carnage Trump spoke of at his inauguration is now everywhere, the COVID-map of the United States blood red, not a state untouched, and each one still on its own.
Yet with the John Hopkins count at 249,733 as of late Wednesday afternoon, Donald Trump refuses to do anything about it or let President-elect Joe Biden in on what’s happening. Instead, Trump is howling that he’s been robbed by a rigged system, while blocking the usual transition of power from one president to another.
It’s just like Trump to force himself on us, after we’ve said no. Biden said Trump’s intransigence means that “more people will die.”
Trump’s so intent on staying on that he forgot his business model is slapping his name on businesses he didn’t start and doesn’t run. He missed a golden branding opportunity by barely noting the 90-plus percent success rate of two vaccines, the Moderna one by tweet and Pfizer’s with a limp appearance in the Rose Garden. He failed to label them the Trump Vaccine. He made more of a fuss over the visit of the pillow guy.
He has his reasons, starting with the fact that those breakthroughs didn’t come on his schedule, meaning before the election. More fanfare would require he follow up with a call for a wartime effort to slow the uncontrolled spread of the virus until the vaccine arrives—to wear masks and avoid social gatherings. Executing a national mass-vaccination campaign takes a longer attention span than Trump’s. He hasn’t met with his coronavirus task force since televised briefings ended.
Meanwhile, life is breaking down on Trump’s indifferent watch. There have been more than a million new cases and 77,000 hospitalizations the last week, the daily average jumping 80 percent from two weeks ago. In a rural Kansas community of 10,000 residents, a nurse triages 600 sick people over the phone because she can’t squeeze in another person. Beds are being moved into hastily constructed tents, but there’s no constructing doctors to tend them. More than 900 medical staff at the Mayo Clinic have been diagnosed with the virus, and all its ICU beds are full. In El Paso, temporary shelters in the parking lot are already filled and prison inmates have been conscripted to move bodies to overflow morgues—when space opens. Elsewhere, a nurse offered the startling story of stricken patients using their dying breaths not to facetime with their loved ones but begging to be told it’s not the virus Trump called a hoax that's killing them.
The only hope of slowing the carnage is for Trump to accept the normal transfer of power, and to encourage his supporters to accept a vaccine when it’s ready, no matter who’s president then. But the president would rather the immunization breakthrough be called the Fauci Vaccine than let Biden’s team meet with his FDA and CDC. Ivanka and Jared are reportedly now urging the president to let go, hoping to salvage their social standing upon their early return to the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Meanwhile, the president prefers to fight an enemy he can see rather than a microbe he can’t, filing baseless lawsuits and losing more than 20 of them. It turns out that poll watchers were actually in the counting room watching. Irritations, like not finding parking, don’t rise to irregularities. Voters are not dead if they give interviews. The river where thousands of ballots are floating remains unnamed.
To fill the void left by lawyers quitting, Trump, after a reported blow up in the Oval Office, put Rudy Giuliani in charge. Cousin Vinny, who the Times reports asked for $20,000 a day, can barely help himself. The only question may be whether Individual 1 or his personal attorney will have a greater need for a pardon when this is over.
Out of the muck, honest election officials rise. Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger affirmed the vote count for Biden and got death threats for doing so. Raffensperger—his assistant in the room—got a call from Sen. Lindsey Graham suggesting he toss out some ballots on a dubious technicality. A Republican doing the right thing, unlike Mitch McConnell, letting Trump have his tantrum at the cost of democracy.
Meantime, Trump’s closest health expert, radiologist Scott Atlas, has urged opponents of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s new coronavirus measures to “rise up." He’s the only doctor to encourage large Thanksgiving celebrations, especially among old people on the theory that, what the heck, it could be their last.
Next year, Trump will be in Mar-a-Lago, or a country without an extradition treaty, secure in his antibodies, sparing not a thought for the death and destruction he left behind. He revels in the chaos, an audience-builder to match the ratings bonanza of his presidency. Who needs a Trump Vaccine when you can have the Trump Show? Some might call it treason. He calls it smart.