I have bad news, good news and more bad news. Also an apology.
The initial bad news: The COVID-19 death toll of Americans stands at 124,000.
The good news: Last Sunday, American daily deaths dropped to 275.
More bad news: Daily deaths rose to 833 on Tuesday and 766 Wednesday. Yesterday, Johns Hopkins University charted 2,467 deaths, although this includes figures from New Jersey of indicate COVID-19 deaths previously not recorded. Also yesterday, a record 40,000 infections were reported.
My apology: Sunday’s plummeting death toll left me disappointed. I’ll explain.
The occupant of the Oval Office is so perverse—and his Republican enablers so selfish and malicious—that only a continuing high death toll might convince enough Americans of the incompetence and lack of humanity defining Donald Trump.
Last Saturday, the president told a rally crowd “filling” a third of Tulsa’s BOK Center, “I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’” Talk about magical thinking! Fewer tests equate to fewer infections—if you lack commonsense and decency.
Several of Trump’s senior advisors stated that the president was joking. Believable—if you lack commonsense and decency.
Chris Rock and Sarah Silverman, stand aside. Donald Trump can now claim to be one of the nation’s premier stand-up comics. For example, he hails the novel coronavirus as the “kung flu,” emphasizing its origin in China. Even presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway, champion of alternative facts, found “kung flu” offensive—in March.
Not funny: Tuesday, Trump said he wasn’t kidding.
More unfunny: A day earlier, Trump tweeted that the upcoming presidential election is “rigged.” He claimed that “millions of mail-in ballots will be printed by foreign countries, and others.” I didn’t bother putting this in all capital letters as he did. I will bother to inform you that Trump VOTES BY MAIL.
Let’s get serious: Trump is setting up an excuse for defeat. The prospect of voters turning him out cannot, in his twisted thought processes, be possible. But a recent Fox News poll—Fox!—showed Trump trailing Joe Biden by 12 points. A recent New York Times poll put Biden’s lead among registered voters at 14 percent. Polls can be sketchy, particularly this early. But if Biden wins, Trump will deny responsibility for defeat.
More threatening, Trump’s tweet recalls the line in the 1964 film Beckett based on the play by Jean Anouilh and spoken by Britain’s King Henry II. At odds with Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Beckett, Henry asks his barons: “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” Media-savvy for his time, Henry could claim he never ordered Beckett’s assassination. Just thinking out loud.
I’m thinking that Trump is dog whistling his followers to disrupt a “corrupt” voting process. Gather with guns near polling places. Damage collection boxes. Delay the proceedings of the Electoral College.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 shows no signs of slowing down. Southern and Western states that rushed to reopen their economies and resisted mandating face masks see infections spiking at alarming rates. While Election Day is more than four months off, it may be that even if Trump-stoked violence arises, the pandemic and our continuing economic meltdown will result in the president’s very legal removal from office.
How sad that it might take 150,000 or more dead Americans to disinfect the Oval Office.
Just before I posted this, Vice President Pence held a news conference during which he praised Trump’s and the administrations efforts to control the pandemic. He didn’t wear a mask. One of us inhabits another dimension.
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