Team Trump and COVID-19: Dumbest Kids in the Room

As far as election narratives go, Trumps approach can be considered erratic at best and inept at worst. The time honored tradition of controlling the media cycle by inventing a new ‘story’ doesn’t work so great when the story you are trying to distract from (poor debate) was actually better than the new story (Trump and something like 30% of his inner circle catch COVID). Back during the 2016 campaign there was a view that Tump was a shrewd manipulator, his public persona was not reflective of his interior views or behaviors. Beneath the barely cognizant policy proposals was the presumed brilliance that built a multi-million dollar empire. With one month until election the timing couldn’t be worse for a nearly irrefutable (and maybe a bit absurd) revelation; Team Trump may just be this inept and the people he decided to surround himself are the dumbest kids in the room.

If you squint enough at the tea leaves of partisan bullshitting, downplaying COVID made initial sense. But only if you simultaneously took it seriously in secret. COVID hit democratic states first because, well, that’s where most Americans live. So the prevailing wisdom seemed to be, don’t let the president interfere in the COVID response. Say it’s a state matter and that the federal branch is there for broad support. Trump says it’ll go away by spring and its fully under control. That way, Trump can deny responsibility for the inevitable blowback which happens when people die and things get worse. More importantly, democratic governors in guaranteed blue states would be to blame so there would be no political loss for Trump. This was short sighted, it’s also not the leadership people want from their government, but by and large there was a logic there to downplaying COVID’s severity and then blaming democrats for the damage it causes.

But then it spread throughout the country, most importantly, it spread around beach parties in Florida. The façade of Trump’s supposed political mastery at this point has to be sliced with Occam’s razor, because republican governors also decided to simultaneously downplay COVID while Trump downplayed it, causing it to spread further. So let’s say the quiet part out loud. For the 4-D chess playing Trump theory to make sense, he needed republican governors to take the brunt of the responsibility for COVID by disagreeing with Trump and enhancing restrictions. But unsurprisingly they didn’t do that because… Trump is too popular amongst republicans! The governors couldn’t disagree without risking their jobs so they fell in line. Now we find our treasured Floridian seniors spiraling down the toilet drain, a state and demographic which Trump can’t lose if he expects to be re-elected as president.

In hindsight Trump knew COVID was terrible, as he admitted back in February to Woodward, which hints at this bold partisan death trade. But then of course he inexplicably changes his messaging as Florida gets worse. From “15 cases going on 0” (Feb 26, 2020) to “I also urge Americans to help us stop the spread of the virus. Practice good hygiene, socially distance, avoid large crowds, and wear a mask where distancing is not possible. It’s a patriotic thing to do.” (August 5, 2020).

This shrewd political powerplay could have worked so long as, you know, you and everyone around you doesn’t catch COVID. As it turns out, Trump just didn’t like masks. There are reports that he discouraged people from wearing them around him and he was frequently photographed in large public events surrounded with an inner circle of people using only sporadic masks (like the super spreader event in the White House gardens, or his no-mask mandatory rallies).

The media narrative against Trump on COVID has been convincing and isn’t up for debate. American’s don’t approve of Trump’s handling of COVID

Source: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/coronavirus-polls/

There is no debate here, it is Trump’s weakest point among voters. You can’t win the election with only 40% of the electorate.

The COVID strategy was unnecessarily stupid, based on avoidance of leadership (which admittedly was unwinnable for Trump, but in hindsight would have been preferential to the current situation) and an apparent attempt at punishing urban Americans while beating the drum of rural superiority. There are times when we have to take a step back and see the situation for what it is, a man who believes himself to have a midas touch and fires those who disagree, found himself believing in the garbage he peddles. Claims of decrepit, riotous, and sinful urban centers like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco must have internally felt like obvious cesspits for COVID to flourish that they might as well burn for it.

But of course it spread, of course Trump knew the dangers, and of course all this is consistent with him catching COVID from a White House sponsored event where masks aren’t mandated. What a joke.

The only way you find yourself in this situation is by surrounding yourself with yes men, people too afraid to correct the leadership on bad ideas (and a leader unwilling to listen to criticism) those who have convinced themselves of inherent paradoxes of the administration

  1. Mexico will pay for a border wall while we pay for the border wall.
  2. NAFTA was a bad trade deal so we renegotiated the same free trade agreement and called it something else and call it a good trade deal.
  3. We believe in free trade but pull out of the TPP only to go to each individual country and try to re-negotiate the same free trade agreements the TPP was built to provide
  4. is there any point in going on?

The danger is when you actually start believing in the bullshit you chant at rallies to keep the core demographics in line. At that point it becomes obvious to everyone else that this intellectual vanguard of swamp drainers isn’t what they pretend to be. In reality they are just the dumbest kids in the room.

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