Guarding the Potatoes, Abandoning the People

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Aspiring potato guards

Eager to ignore and disown the deadly chaos he's sown on all sides, Trump is busy filling his days with pointless photo-ops to support the insane fiction he's "done a great job." On Thursday, he headed to Michigan - beset by historic floods, economic disaster and over 4,000 Covid-19 deaths, too many in the black community - to visit a Ford plant making ventilators, even though he just threatened the governor, the visit violates her ban on tours, and his longtime refusal to wear a mask that would smear his greasepaint prompted an open letter from the state's AG arguing he had a "moral" obligation to wear a mask and threatening legal action against any company that "allows him inside those facilities and puts our workers at risk." Still, there he went. It was with the same dumb, blind, tone-deaf arrogance that, the day before, he gathered a few Virginia farmers, struggling from the impact of his own disastrous trade policies and now the pandemic, to boast about a new gift of $16 billion in direct payments. Announcing the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, he took an incoherent, blame-diverting stab at reality. "But we can never forget all of the people who have been left behind, that have died for some reason that should have never happened,” he said, because God knows he had nothing to do with a pandemic too distressing even to name. “It shoulda never happened. You know that, I know that, and the people that caused the problem they know that too...It’s too bad....But we’re gonna win, and we’re gonna win very big." Alas, it turns out only potatoes likely will.

Quickly distracted, Trump warned he'd be "going after Virginia" and attacked its "crazy" Dem. Gov. Ralph Northam. "They want to take your second amendment away," he warned. "You know that, right? You'll have nobody guarding your potatoes." Never mind Virginia only ranks 21st in the country for potato-growing, and that, with a suffering world on fire, we face many more substantive calamities. Still, for many weary Americans hungry for diversion, #Potatogate called to them. So did #GuardYourPotatoes and #VirginiaPotatoWars. Gov. Northam quickly responded, noting "as the only medical doctor among our nation's governors, I suggest you stop taking hydroxychloroquine." Others chimed in with new GOP election slogans - "We will end the brutal Virginia potato wars" - job queries - "I am one of the newly unemployed 30 million - where do i apply for the position of potato guard?" - and moving historical remembrances: "Dearest Mother, Having finally recovered from my wounds incurred at the Bowling Green Massacre, I am called to fight again in the brutal Virginia Potato Wars to protect my brethren. Pray for me...Mr. PotatoHead." WaPo's Alexandra Petri offered her poignant tale of "a simple potato guardian." "To guard the potato is a sacred duty," she wrote, "which I have studied since my days at Au Groton." Back in the real world, meanwhile, came grim stats and truths. WHO reported the highest day of new infections - the US, with 4% of the world's population, now has 30% of the total, with 1.59 million cases and 94,276 deaths. And a new study found that, if the criminally bungling Trump had acted a week earlier, he would have saved 36,000 lives; two weeks earlier could have saved 54,000. Asked what he would have done differently, Trump responded, "Well, nothing....We've done amazingly well." Just friggin' fry him, please.

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