Rearranging the Deck Chairs on COVID, Race, Polls and the Great American Experiment


Now out-and-out ditching the work of the Democratic Experiment

Wow. It turns out the only thing Bunker Boy's good at is bald-faced-and-headed denial: With chaos on all sides, he's virtually, increasingly throwing up his hands at the hard work of the American Democratic Experiment and repeatedly shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic so he can order his remaining minions, angry-toddler-like, to ignore the growing pile of bodies and surge full speed ahead. This week, COVID cases in the US soared to over two million, with 116,000 deaths - a rate of 340 per million residents that's 100 times worse than China's, and that high-level public health officials call "an American fiasco." They also point with alarm to still-rapidly rising cases in at least 21 states, with more than a dozen seeing record surges, even while much of the country blindly lumbers toward re-opening amidst mounting unemployment and a crashing market. Faced with so much dire news, after months of ceaseless lies, desperate bleach-flavored feints, dithering and finger-pointing and declaring our yuge death rate a "badge of honor," Trump has taken a bold new tack - ignore it. Literally. Like, poof. All gone.

At least he was until this week, when his campaign had to acknowledge grim reality to the point of taking themselves off the hook for it. Because they work for a perennial con man whose decades-long reflex is to sue first and think later, they issued a warning to next week's Nazi-rally goers in Tulsa - soon to be packed beefy shoulder to shoulder in a 19,000-person arena, likely no masks in sight - that if they get the virus, they really don't care, do you? Their official blithe take: “We are looking forward to the tremendous crowds and enthusiasm." Because Trump's make-believe world is desperately filled with that enthusiasm, backed by litigation threats, he cited it when he was so triggered by a CNN poll showing him trailing Biden by 14 points he issued a cease-and-desist letter blasting a "phony poll to cause voter suppression," hough it aligns with multiple other polls -  ABC News/Washington Post, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, Fox News - and reality. The response from CNN's flabbergasted legal department to his "factually and legally baseless" threat: "This is the first time in its 40 year history CNN had been threatened with legal action because an American politician (did) not like CNN’s polling results.” They noted Trump is "free to publish his own critique. That’s how free speech works. It’s the American way."

It's also the American way to protest injustice, another thing Trump Just Can't Get these days. Having spent days hiding and railing and vowing to "dominate" the unruly mob by haplessly holding an upside-down Bible, he went to Dallas Thursday for an alleged round-table on race and policing that deliberately snubbed the county's three top, black law enforcement officials - a police chief, sheriff and district attorney - and Dallas' many African-American leaders. Despite those rebuffs, and the fact the event was at a conservative, Evangelical, all-white mega-church, the White House insisted he'd hear "a diversity of views" - Nazi to KKK? - about racial injustice. In the end, his white-dog-and-pony show was clearly transformative: Trump praised the use of tear gas on Minnesota protesters, described the force used by National Guardsmen, who it turns out were issued bayonets beforehand, as “like a knife cutting butter” and "a beautiful scene I'll never forget," noted that, "By the end of that evening, and it was a short evening, everything was fine," clutched the tired trope that, "No matter where you go you have bad apples, and there are not too many of them” among police, called meaninglessly for police to use "force with compassion," and predicted that overcoming racism will "go quickly and it'll go very easily" before heading to a $10 million campaign dinner with donors paying $580,600 each for a meal and souvenir photo. In a Fox interview the next day, Trump called protesters "rioters" and mused that chokeholds "sound so innocent and so perfect," so Dallas proved a truly teachable moment.

Trump will likely incorporate those hard-earned lessons when he gives his acceptance speech at the GOP convention in Jacksonville on August 27, which is the 60th anniversary of a brutal attack on black Jacksonville residents by white mobs brandishing baseball bats and ax handles known as “Ax Handle Saturday.” The convention will be an ad-hoc affair: After North Carolina's governor refused to loosen COVID guidelines for the original event in Charlotte, the GOP moved it to Florida, but decided to scrub most of the official party business. Very weirdly, it also cut writing a new party platform - usually about ideas and stuff - and decided to just recycle the 2016 platform, which is so out of date it promises things Trump already did, ignores multiple, timely changes and issues, and includes over three dozen attacks on "the current administration" and "the current president," which was Obama. Some GOPers worry the old/new platform will be "tone-deaf" - ya think? - and word has it Jared and some lackeys set out to write a new platform, but they gave up because, ugh, boring, and really what is there to say  besides hate, fear, greed, denial, repeat. To historian Heather Cox Richardson, the abandonment of writing a party platform, "the central purpose of a political convention, seems a remarkable admission that GOP leaders either can't manage or can't be bothered with the basics of our political system," and are just going full, mindless MAGA, and never mind the whole messy representative democracy thing. Or ugly reality: On Friday, Tulsa saw the biggest ever spike in COVID cases. But sure, shuffle those chairs and full speed ahead.



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