Trump has spent the past few weeks complaining about the supposedly too-high volume of testing across the country. “If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any,” he has lamented, as if Americans are suffering not from covid-19 but from Schrödinger’s Virus.
At his rally last weekend in Tulsa, amid rants about ramps and tall tales about his water-drinking abilities, Trump announced he was doing something about this alleged over-testing problem.
“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases,” Trump said. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ ”
They gave Trump an out, and he declined to take it.
Asked to clarify whether he had merely been kidding, he told reporters Tuesday: “I don’t kid.” He went on to complain that testing was catching people who “aren’t sick or very little.” As if those who are “very little” sick will cease to be contagious if the world refuses to acknowledge their contagiousness.
On Wednesday, the administration acknowledged its plans to end funding and other support for 13 coronavirus testing sites at the end of June. This means withdrawing support for community-based testing sites across five states — including Texas, whose confirmed cases and hospitalizations recently reached record highs. Federal officials told reporters they had not been pressured to reduce testing and that the plan all along had been to eventually turn these sites over to local officials.
If Trump’s underlings would like to follow their boss’s stated wishes, however, there’s one testing location they could shut down immediately: the Oval Office, and the concentric circles (ovals?) enveloping it.
Throughout the pandemic, Trump and those in his immediate orbit have enjoyed (or perhaps suffered) seemingly unlimited access to rapid coronavirus testing.
Even under recently “scaled back” screening, “Every staff member and guest in close proximity to the president and vice president is still being temperature-checked, asked symptom histories and tested for COVID-19,” according to White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere.
By Trump’s thinking, it could well be such testing that led several Trump campaign staffers and Secret Service employees to recently be diagnosed with the illness — not, say, their work planning the potential super-spreader event that was Trump’s Tulsa rally.
Since then, dozens of additional Secret Service officers and agents and several Trump campaign staffers who came into contact with these diagnosed individuals have been instructed to self-quarantine. This also seems to violate Trump and his advisers’ usual epidemiological advice for the public: to buck up and resume regular routines as quickly as possible.
Can’t let the virus smell your fear, you see.
Trump is, allegedly, a man of the people. Here is an opportunity for him to prove his populist bona fides: He can subject himself to exactly the same testing, tracing and social distancing constraints he wishes to foist upon the American people. If he truly believes that reduced testing is the best policy response, and it’s better not to know who is infected, he should reduce the testing around him and refuse to be tested himself. What’s more, he could direct everyone around him to eschew masks (some, following his selfish model, already have) and return to business as usual.
Reopen the White House, just as Trump wishes to reopen the economy. Let White House denizens live in ignorance of their potential exposure to coronavirus, just as they live in ignorance of so much else.
Alternatively, of course, rather than practicing what he preaches, Trump could preach what he already practices.
That is, he could urge Congress to provide funds to massively scale up White House-style testing and tracing — and extend it to the rest of the country. (This would be expensive but not prohibitively so.) Then, more Americans could feel safer shopping, socializing, going to work, sending their children to school and engaging in any other activities that Trump aides, safe in their hyper-tested bubble, might do.
If, then, Trump still wishes to remain oblivious to what the real numbers are, fine. We can all agree not to tell him.
Those are some of the views Republicans endorse by uncritically embracing and supporting President Trump. He is leading his party down a sewer of unabashed racism and willful ignorance, and all who follow him — and I mean all — deserve to feel the mighty wrath of voters in November.
I’m talking to you, Sen.
- Susan Collins of Maine. And you, Sen.
- Cory Gardner of Colorado. And you, Sens.
- Thom Tillis of North Carolina,
- Martha McSally of Arizona,
- Joni Ernst of Iowa,
- Steve Daines of Montana,
- Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and
- John Cornyn of Texas.
And while those of you in deep-red states whose reelection ordinarily would be seen as a mere formality may not see the giant millstones you’ve hung around your necks as a real risk, think again. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina and even Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, you should look at the numbers and realize you are putting your Senate seats — and the slim GOP majority — in dire jeopardy.
You can run and hide from reporters asking you about Trump’s latest statements or tweets. You can pretend not to hear shouted questions as you hurry down Capitol hallways. You can take out your cellphones and feign being engrossed in a terribly important call. Ultimately, you’re going to have to answer to voters — and in the meantime you have decided to let Trump speak for you. Best of luck with that.
It is not really surprising that Trump, with his poll numbers falling and his reelection in serious jeopardy, would decide to use race and public health as wedge issues to inflame his loyal base. That’s all he knows how to do.
Most politicians would see plunging poll numbers as a warning to try a different approach; Trump takes them as a sign to do more of the same — more race-baiting, more authoritarian “law and order” posturing, more see-no-evil denial of a raging pandemic that has cost more than 120,000 American lives.
Racism is a feature of the Trump shtick, not a bug. He sees the nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd as an opportunity not for healing and reform, but to stir anger and resentment among his overwhelmingly white voting base. Trump wants no part of the reckoning with history the country seems to crave.
This week, city officials in Charleston, S.C. — the place where the Civil War began — took down a statue of John C. Calhoun, a leading 19th-century politician and fierce defender of slavery, from its 115-foot column in Marion Square and hauled it away to a warehouse. Also this week, Trump reportedly demanded that the District’s monument to Confederate Gen. Albert Pike, toppled last week by protesters, be cleaned up and reinstalled exactly as it was.
Trump went to Arizona not just to falsely claim great progress on building his promised border wall, intended to keep out the “hombres,” but also to delight fervent young supporters by referring to covid-19 as “kung flu.” Weeks ago, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said that racist term was clearly offensive and unacceptable. But since Trump has made it into a red-meat applause line, Conway now apparently thinks it’s a perfectly legitimate way to identify the virus’s country of origin.
All the other Republicans who fail to speak up while Trump runs the most nakedly racist presidential campaign since George Wallace in 1968 shouldn’t kid themselves. Their silence amounts to agreement. Perhaps there’s enough white bitterness out there to carry the Republican Party to another narrow win. But that’s not what the polls say.
Trump’s antics are self-defeating. He’ll put on a racist show for a shrinking audience, but he won’t wear the masks that could allow the economic reopening he desperately wants. He may be able to avoid reality, but the Republican governors — including Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida — scrambling desperately to contain new outbreaks cannot.
It’s almost as though Trump is determined to destroy the Republican Party. Let’s give him his wish.
Description: A stunning report in TIME Magazine says that Trump is all but ignoring his intelligence briefers and the information they present to him. John Walcott, who broke the story, says “for the most part, the briefings have stopped” because of this. Lawrence discusses with Walcott, Chris Whipple and Mieke Eoyang.
In his interview with FOX News, President Trump said there was “no reason” for him to hear a tape recording purported to be of the killing of Saudi activist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last month … “We have the tape, I don’t want to hear the tape, no reason for me to hear the tape,” Trump said on “FOX News Sunday.” When Chris Wallace asked why he did not want to hear the recording, Trump said: “Because it’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it. There’s no reason for me to hear it.”
On Saturday, Trump vowed that his administration would “be having a very full report over the next two days, probably Monday or Tuesday.” It was unclear whether the document would be made public. The Washington Post and other outlets have reported that the CIA had concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s death. A U.S. government official told Fox News on Saturday that no final assessment or conclusion relating to the crown prince’s involvement had been reached, nor had a so-called “smoking gun” been found.
Trump told “FOX News Sunday” that the crown prince, known informally as “MbS,” had told him “maybe five times” that he had no involvement in Khashoggi’s death. When Wallace asked what Trump would do if he determines that the crown prince has lied to him, Trump said: “Will anybody really know?”– Reported by Samuel Chamberlain (@SChamberlainFOX on Twitter)