The Magical Thinking Presidency

Trump's approach from the beginning has been reality-denying. It makes it difficult to take anything the administration proposed seriously.

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, left, and Attorney General William Barr, displays his signature after signing an Executive Order to Prevent Hoarding and Price Gouging, Monday, March 23, 2020, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, left, and Attorney General William Barr, displays his signature after signing an Executive Order to Prevent Hoarding and Price Gouging, Monday, March 23, 2020, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump’s approach to the Covid-19 outbreak has been a mix of indifference, denial, and straight-up magical thinking. We can start with his answer to the question “Are there worries about a pandemic at this point?” from CNBC’s Joe Kernen on January 22:

“No. Not at all. And we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

Two days later, some wishful thinking on Twitter:

And then a magical thinking retweet from OANN:

Note that the link now generates a 404 error.

(And while it is true that J&J is, like many other, working on a vaccine, the President of the United States shouldn’t be blithely tweeting out contextless headlines that provide false hope).

The denialism/wishful thinking continued. From a public event in Michigan on January 30:

We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five.  And those people are all recuperating successfully.  But we’re working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it’s going to have a very good ending for it.  So that I can assure you.

Then exactly one month ago today (February 27, 2020):

And you know what?  If we were doing a bad job, we should also be criticized.  But we have done an incredible job.  We’re going to continue.  It’s going to disappear.  One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.  And from our shores, we — you know, it could get worse before it gets better.  It could maybe go away.  We’ll see what happens.  Nobody really knows.

[…]

To think of it — with all of what you see going on — 15 people.  We brought in the others, but — and they’re doing good.  But 15 people is almost, I would say, a miracle.

As I write this, the NYT reports that the US leads the world with confirmed cases at 85,831. We have had 1,271 deaths. Trump clearly had no understanding of what we were facing back in February, and I have little hope he understands what we are facing going into the next month.

Indeed, the administration wasted well over a month before starting to take the situation seriously. And pretending and wishing on the part of the President has not helped.

Another example of pure wishfulness was on March 6, when he said: “anyone who wants a test can get a test.”

This was not true.

And yet, what have we gotten even as the federal government has finally been acting? We get more magical thinking from Trump.

For example, last week he made unfounded claims about anti-malarial drugs:

At a news conference Thursday, President Donald Trump said the malaria drug chloroquine and the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir are being tested as possible COVID-19 therapies and could slow the epidemic. 

“It could have a very positive effect, or a positive effect, maybe not very, but maybe positive,” Trump said.  “It’s very, very exciting.”

Here he seemed to be doing nothing more than kibbitzing in public based on cable news stories he had seen. This was not the act of a serious leader. (It also seems that he has stopped touting that possibility).

Then earlier this week, we got the notion that we should “reopen the country” by Easter:

“I’d love to have it open by Easter,” he said. “I would love to have that. It’s such an important day for other reasons, but I’ll make it an important day for this too. I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.”

In another interview with Fox News later Tuesday afternoon, Trump said he came up with the “Easter is a very special day for me.”

“Wouldn’t it be great to have all the churches full?” Trump added. “You’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it’ll be a beautiful time.”

This is wishful thinking (and symbolic pandering). It is not leadership.

I thought about all of this (and more) when I heard that the administration is going to propose a county-by-county assessment to determine varying social distancing guidelines.

Via Politico: Trump teases new coronavirus distancing guidelines based on county risk .

President Donald Trump on Thursday teased a new plan to reopen swaths of the country shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic via a targeted, county-by-county mitigation effort.

In a letter to the nation’s governors released by the White House, Trump outlined a system to conduct “robust surveillance testing” that would allow the federal government to “classify counties with respect to continued risks posed” by the coronavirus, rather than apply one set of nationwide social distancing guidelines, as the CDC did a little over a week ago.

[…]

In the letter, released following the president’s teleconference with governors on Thursday, Trump writes that the new guidelines would incorporate data gleaned from “expanded testing capabilities” to “monitor the spread of the virus throughout the country.”

Based on that data, the administration would categorize counties as “high risk, medium risk and low risk.” This would allow areas less affected by the virus to put in place looser restrictions than ones that have been ravaged by the illness.

On one level, I can certainly see that New York City has a different risk profile than does rural Idaho, but I am not sure exactly how all of this is supposed to work. It sounds more like, well, magical thinking than it does a sound policy plan. If we could do truly massive testing, then maybe we could initiate a radically different approach to the pandemic. But, despite boasts by the president about how many tests we have done (boasts that belie a problem distinguishing between absolute numbers and a per capita metric), we are in no position to do mass testing.

Beyond that, if the goal is to address the economic problems, the places that generate the most economic activity (i.e., places where people are) are the kinds of places where more stringent social distances would need to remain in place.

Indeed, this focus on counties is the same category of error that makes people think that the Electoral College is fine: it is thinking in terms of containers rather than thinking about what, and how much, is in said containers. The issue is where people are and that has to be the focus of policy.

There is also the problem that country lines are, you know, abstract and aren’t forcefields that block viruses:

Asked whether, practically, the guidelines could prevent residents from a high-risk county from traveling to a low-risk county and potentially transmitting Covid-19, Birx punted to local officials.

“These are dialogues that the federal government has to have with state and local governments, because state and local governments make those decisions,” she replied.

Well, then.

And, of course, governors and mayors control these things, not the federal government, so all of this is just likely to muddle the waters, not provide clarity. This potential policy seems more about Trump wishing to reopen as much of the economy as possible rather than something reasonable or even practical.

Plus, even if one thinks that a county-by-county approach makes sense, one has to have the data to make these decisions (and we don’t have it).

Magical thinking is not a healthy way to make policy.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, COVID-19, Donald Trump, Health, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. senyordave says:

    In 2012 there was an estimate of how many elected officials there were in the US. This included national, state, and local, and did include school boards. The total was 519,862. I would say that there Donald Trump would be in he bottom 2% of elected officials in the US in terms of qualifications, judgment, and temperament. It is hard to believe that there are 10,000 elected officials in the US less qualified than Donald Trump to be president.

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  2. CSK says:

    And here’s what a considerable percentage of the country thinks: “I can see how our valiant President is like our knight in shining armor unafraid to enter the room and speak without a teleprompter. He is heroic as he battles and slays the dragons of the media.”

    I don’t know how anyone could write something like that with a straight face, but someone did this morning over at Lucianne.com. I’ve never, ever seen such a division as the present one. Half of this country is living in one version of reality and the other in its polar opposite.

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  3. DrDaveT says:

    If we could do truly massive testing, then maybe we could initiate a radically different approach to the pandemic.

    Exactly. This is the key — if we actually knew who is infected, who is immune, and who is clean, we could do all kinds of targeted isolation/tracking/containment that would allow the economy at large to function, at least in regions where the virus has not yet taken hold widely.

    Without testing? Forget it. The virus will spread if you provide vectors, and normal economic activity is made of vectors.

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  4. Kingdaddy says:

    But we’re a magical thinking country. It pervades everything from self-help homilies to boardroom decisions based on wishful thinking to Mission Accomplished banners to the faith in carnival barker politicians. It’s the opposite of doing the work, which bores us, and listening to people who know things, which scares us.

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  5. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK:

    Half of this country is living in one version of reality and the other in its polar opposite.

    Fixed that for you…

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  6. @Kingdaddy: Indeed. Sigh.

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  7. Kingdaddy says:

    @CSK:

    I’ve never, ever seen such a division as the present one. Half of this country is living in one version of reality and the other in its polar opposite.

    I have, in countries before an authoritarian or totalitarian seizure of power. Pre-Franco Spain, pre-Nazi Germany, pre-Soviet Russia…

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    I’ve never, ever seen

    I have, in … Pre-Franco Spain, pre-Nazi Germany, pre-Soviet Russia…

    Wow. You look significantly younger than that in your picture…

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  9. CSK says:

    @Kingdaddy:
    Cult45 has convinced itself that while, sure, Covid-19 does exist, it’s a very minor illness whose effects are being wildly exaggerated by the press working in league with the Democrats and many Republicans to bring down Donald Trump, The Greatest President Our Country Has Ever Known.

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  10. Mikey says:

    Re: half the country living in reality and the other not…holy crap, look at this graph.

    https://twitter.com/Austen/status/1243281350280404992/photo/1

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  11. Moosebreath says:

    Meanwhile, Trump’s response to a political ad, setting forth his response in his own words, is to call for a cease and desist order.

    “The ad strings together audio of recent comments by Trump in which he attempts to minimize the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak, including a snippet in which he says “this is their new hoax.”

    Trump’s campaign said Wednesday that it had delivered “cease and desist” letters to the stations demanding that they pull the ad or face legal action. The stations were not named in a news release announcing the action or in a copy of the letter accessed by a hyperlink included in the emailed release.”

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  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    “I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” he said. “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”

    More magical thinking.
    I think Cuomo’s Presser, today at 11:30, is going to be “must-see-TV”.

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  13. @MarkedMan:

    Wow. You look significantly younger than that in your picture…

    He’s another one of those obnoxious polisci Ph.D. types who think they know things based on studying them.

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  14. Grumpy realist says:

    It’s too bad we can’t split the country down the middle—Trump believers on one side, the rest of us on the other side. Then we could simply let experience the natural effects of their magical thinking and then, after they had killed themselves all off, not have to worry about them any more.

    There is nothing more annoying than having to rescue reality-deniers from the consequence of their own stupidity. Especially when they keep insisting they don’t need any help. So I’ve come to the conclusion: let them die.

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  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: That is sooooo elitist.

    eta: just in case, s//

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  16. Kingdaddy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: A student once told me, “I don’t need to know about the Vietnam War, because I wasn’t alive at the time.” (In fact, he was. Not surprisingly, he got the dates wrong.)

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  17. Paine says:

    I can see some value in looking at population density by county, but that is one reasons why the census should count persons, not citizens (another reason is that that Constitution says so). If the 2010 census counted only citizens the data would be much less accurate.

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  18. Kit says:

    @Mikey:

    Re: half the country living in reality and the other not…holy crap, look at this graph.

    Go over to the source of that data, civiqs.com (a polling company), and have fun playing around with the graphs. I didn’t find it immediately obvious, but you can filter by the categories on the left-hand side.

    Bet you can’t guess what Trump’s approval rating looks like with white, Republican, non-college grads over 65 (no cheating).

    Or have fun looking at what that same demographic thinks about gun control. After some of the worst events, a few have a brief moment of doubt, but they quickly get back on board.

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  19. DrDaveT says:

    @Moosebreath:

    “The ad strings together audio of recent comments by Trump in which he attempts to minimize the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak, including a snippet in which he says “this is their new hoax.”

    Amusingly, the White House legal staff’s case against the ad depends on Donald Trump not knowing what the word “hoax” means, or how to use it correctly in a sentence…

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  20. DrDaveT says:

    @Kit: To me, the scariest part is that education and State and even age don’t seem to make much difference. Once you tick “Republican”, you get overwhelming approval of Trump. “Independent” gives a 50/50 mix of approval and disapproval, and “Democrat” gives 98% disapproval. Party identification (tip of the cap here to Dr. Taylor) now essentially means nothing more than “Do you approve of Donald Trump?”.

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  21. Kylopod says:

    @Kingdaddy: I can’t believe no one’s brought up the classic Paul Begala-Meghan McCain smackdown.

    https://youtu.be/o8iZLFleeE4

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  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    People believe horse shit because we refuse to teach kids how to think. And we can’t teach kids how to think because any serious attempt to teach philosophy in schools and teach a coherent epistemology runs smack up against religion.

    There’s a reason one of the best predictors of Trump support is a lack of education. Cult45 is largely coterminous with white evangelical Christianity, a distinctly anti-intellectual iteration of Christianity. Magical thinking may take different forms in different countries, but in this country it grows directly out of religion. Religion is the gateway drug for reality-deniers. Once you believe in sky daddy, what’s to stop you believing in elves or unicorns or Donald Trump? If reality is defined not by evidence but by faith then reality is whatever you say it is. It’s effectively solipsism, the collapse of the Subjective/Objective interface.

    No amount of evidence will alter Cult45. Trump will keep 40% no matter what. It won’t save him, but he won’t lose them, he can’t lose them because they can’t lose him. They’ve retired Jesus, they’ve kicked him upstairs to a seat on the board. Trump is their god now. And that is not an exaggeration. They’ve taken the next step down the religious evolutionary ladder, abandoning their sacred book, abandoning their long-stated beliefs, abandoning their nailed God who has failed after 2000 years to show up. They’re nothing more now than scared, superstitious children dancing around a fly-blown pig’s head.

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  23. Slugger says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Michael, I actually have a bottle of the Talisker ten year old in my cupboard. At five Pacific time I am putting a dent in it. I invite you and all to do a shot at the same time for the sake of solidarity despite distance. L’chaim.

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  24. CSK says:

    @Slugger:
    That’s 8 p.m. my time. I can’t wait that long.

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  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: You tube needs closed captioning. Desperately. I listened to that 3 times and I still had no idea what she was saying, never mind what she was talking about, I could not here the words coming out of her mouth. Between her mumbling and my deafness it was impossible. I managed to find another clip that had a slightly higher volume setting and I was able to at least get the gist of her ramblings but damn…. Please Youtube?

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  26. DrDaveT says:

    @Slugger:

    I invite you and all to do a shot at the same time

    I’ll be there with a wee dram of Lagavulin 16. Skál.

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  27. Kingdaddy says:

    Rough day so far. Maybe I need a drink.

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  28. Mikey says:

    @CSK: Nobody said that has to be the *first* shot you take.

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  29. CSK says:

    Seen on Twitter: According to Rush Limbaugh today, “We didn’t elect a president to defer to a bunch of health experts that we don’t know. And how do we know they’re even health experts?”

    Does he trust his oncologists, I wonder?

    Am I correct in thinking that Limbaugh has an audience of 20 million people?

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  30. CSK says:

    @Mikey:
    I like the cut of your jib, Mikey.

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  31. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Slugger:
    This I can manage. I can totally hold out til 5 PM.

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  32. mattbernius says:

    @Slugger, @CSK, @DrDaveT, & @Kingdaddy:

    I’ll join as well (though my current choice is Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky). And yes, it’s been a week!

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  33. Jen says:

    I’ll participate in the round as well, a dram of Highland Park 18 for me.

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  34. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Slugger:

    I’m not sure my John Barr* will hold out that long. That’s 7pm cheesehead time and I stopped working at noon. But if there’s some, I’ll raise a glass.

    Slainte!

    * hey… I’m a poor office worker. I can’t afford the good stuff.

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  35. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    I noticed Sununu forbore shutting down the NH state liquor stores yesterday.

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  36. Liberal Capitalist says:

    This is a MUST READ. Stop what you are doing, and read this article.

    https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/the-story-of-a-coronavirus-infection.html

    This shows the idiocy of Mississippi’s governor and others who think we can just ignore the virus.

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  37. Sleeping Dog says:

    Over at the Intelligencer, Sully makes the case that Tiny would have sealed the deal for his reelection in November if he had done what a leader should have done at the beginning of the epidemic. Something that I agree with. But Tiny reverted to be Tiny and only looked at the short term, keeping his beloved DJIA up. Short term and magical thinking that defines Tiny and his administration.

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  38. MarkedMan says:

    @DrDaveT: I’m afraid I’m limited to Johnnie Walker Double Black, but I’ll be happy to toast you all with that.

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  39. Sleeping Dog says:

    Duh, forgot the link.

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  40. gVOR08 says:

    @Slugger: I’m in. Bourbon. Don’t know anything Nordic that’s appropriate, so “Sláinte” at 8 Eastern.

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  41. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Over at the Intelligencer, Sully makes the case that Tiny would have sealed the deal for his reelection in November if he had done what a leader should have done at the beginning of the epidemic.

    The level of damage it’s doing to the economy is something which, I suspect, no president could survive, no matter how well they handled it. Of course if Trump had made better choices earlier he would have limited the economic damage—but I still think it would be a very difficult situation politically for any president.

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  42. Nightcrawler says:

    Because the GOP is in charge, it’s going to get exactly what it’s asking for: the doors to be flung back open in 2 weeks, as the Mango Manchild has set forth.

    But it’s not going to get what it wants, which is for the economy to magically restart. All those people who are going to die aren’t going to just go POOF and vanish into the cornfield. Their deaths will have ripple effects. As will all the cases involving people who become seriously ill and survive at the cost of severe, disabling lung damage.

    My prediction? We’re going to see states seceding, with smaller ones forming their own little unions. In the end, after millions of people are killed by the virus, infrastructure collapses, and various civil war skirmishes, the former U.S. will be divided into several new countries. Not 2, because it’s not as simple as Liberal Land and Republistan, but several.

    I don’t want to see that happen. I just think it will.

    ***********************
    To the person who called me a spree killer on the other thread: rad! I legit screen-shot that for posterity.

    That said, spree killing is not a fit for my personality. Spree killers are stupid, reckless, and end up going down very quickly because of their scorched-earth approach. I’d rather be called a serial killer! They’re intelligent, methodical, and take a cautious, surgical approach. They can operate for years before getting caught!

    No, the spree killers are the people who have no problem at all with the notion of killing millions of Americans in the name of country, the Dow, and the Nectarine Nero: They’re stupid, reckless, and insistent on a scorched-earth approach. They’re also going to go down very quickly, either via the virus or the aftermath of getting exactly what they’re demanding, the doors flung back open.

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  43. Nightcrawler says:

    @Grumpy realist:

    It won’t end up being that simple. We’ll see something akin to what usually happens in post-apocalyptic fiction, which is the former U.S. split into several countries. Here’s one example.

    AK will either become its own country or be absorbed into Canada. If HI doesn’t go its own way, I could see it allying with Japan.

    Those are the easy ones. The continental U.S. is a bit trickier. I think California and Texas will strike out on their own. New York will form a union with some of the neighboring states. Delaware would have to ally with someone, or it would end up being invaded by a foreign nation in, like, two hours.

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  44. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Sully makes the case that Tiny would have sealed the deal for his reelection in November if he had done what a leader should have done at the beginning of the epidemic.

    Three years and they’re still expecting him to grow into the office.

    I am worried about politics anyway. The current crisis will probably run into May or so. When new cases lighten up we’ll either do something stupid or go into rolling lockdowns and/or targeted lockdowns with heavy testing. (Assuming we’ve found Mike Dense’s millions of test kits or otherwise resolved testing by then.) ’08 was an unusual “balance sheet” recession. Gazillions of dollars disappeared. Usually we have “interest rate” recessions, the Fed raises interest rates too high. We recover quickly from interest rate recessions as soon as the Fed drops rates.

    I’ve been calling this a “neutron bomb” recession. The product is still there, the facilities are still there, the demand is still there, the money is still there – only the people are missing, the customers and workers. And we’re pumping out two effing trillion in stimulus*. My thoroughly amateur opinion is that any hint of normal and the economy will rush back.

    If the economy is booming third quarter and the virus seems reasonably controlled, Trump’s got a good chance at reelection. He’ll declare victory. He’ll say, ‘See, all those elitists said millions of dead. They were wrong, I alone knew how to fight this Chinese virus by shutting down immigration and sending you $1200. I took care of you through this.” Last I looked at 538 Trumps approval was up and only underwater by five points. (Actually a very small ‘rally round the flag’ bump.)

    I wouldn’t wish the virus on anyone, and I’m hoping for the best on COVID-19. But we can’t survive a second Trump term as a functioning Democracy.
    ________
    * Anybody seen any sign of the Republican inflation scolds from back when the Black guy wanted some stimulus?

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  45. senyordave says:

    @gVOR08: No president in m lifetime has faced a crisis with anything approaching this level of incompetence and malevolence. His approval rating seems to actually be spiking. I understand that he would get 42% no matter what he did (I actually think they approve more when he is terrible so long as he owns the libs), but who out there other than his base looks at his downplaying the crisis and says to themselves “he did a good job”? I honestly think he has a very good chance of winning because so many people in this country simply don’t think an incompetent president is that big a deal.

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  46. Jen says:

    @CSK: Indeed. As I was picking up a case of wine the other day I asked “you all are essential, correct?” Employee response: “as far as we know, we’ll be open for the duration.”

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  47. EddieInCA says:

    @Slugger:

    I wish I could show you a photo of the Weller I’m going to pour in your (and Michael’s) honor. One hour and three minutes from now.

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  48. inhumans99 says:

    @Nightcrawler:

    Nah, your comment is a good example of the subject of this thread—wishful/magical thinking. We are not going to have a revolution because the election will go on as planned, etc., etc., etc.. The GOP is aware they need to do better when it comes to keeping a leash on their guy in the White House because I remember when it was said the bigger blow to the Democratic Party’s losses in the House and Senate was the fact that the GOP won a lot of Governerships and these guys control a lot of the levers (set policy, etc..) of what actually gets accomplished in their state…well, it turns out that Republican Governors are not all that dissimilar to Democratic Governors and they were happy to go on TV and criticize the White House’s response to this pandemic. They have even hinted they will be happy to ignore Trump”s desire that the workers in their states go back to being busy little bees making the rich richer by Easter if it means saving lives by keeping them home at least 1-3 weeks longer.

    The guy in the White House may be an unempathetic boob but many Governor’s have shown on tv through their words and more importantly, their actions that they care a wee bit about the people under their stewardship that could become ill or die due to the Coronavirus.

    Also, you know how I know that all hope is not lost for Democrats, that we were able to add Unemployment Benefits for what 4 months to the bailout bill that will contain $600 above what the UI benefits would normally pay out during this 4 month period (meaning that yup, some folks will make more money during this time than they would if they were actually working…and I honestly have no problem with that fact), I do not think it has sunk in how big a deal that is and how we should be singing Pelosi and Schumer praises for how they held firm and made this happen (along w/preventing the Trump family from simply using the bailout funds to line their already rich pockets).

    A sign of how bad this pandemic is that the enhanced Unemployment Benefits would have never in a million years become a reality if Republicans could have stopped this from happening without risk of being swept out of office. Seriously, give us filthy unwashed masses even more money than we would make if we were working, heavens to Betsy that is crazy talk (lol!).

    It really is a bonafide miracle that Pelosi pulled this off, I made a comment in another thread a week or so back that Pelosi had an extremely rare window of opportunity to apply some leverage and she took advantage of this window before it snapped shut not to be opened for another thousand years.

    Full disclosure, I was really agreeing with an article in Politico about 2 weeks back saying Pelosi was in a rare position to apply some leverage to get some of what Democrats want into a bailout bill and if she was smart she would use this leverage while she could.

    Credit where credit is due, she saw the opportunity and took it. Because of her and folks like Bernie Sanders there will not be an inevitable wave of mass evictions washing across the U.S. because workers were no longer employed and had no money to pay their bills.

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  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kingdaddy: Strange you should bring up Vietnam. Years ago, a student asked me why “we need to study all this past events bullsh–.” Being the kind of corrupter of young minds that I am, I answered “because of George Santayana.” This brought up the quote about learning history or repeating it. The student acknowledged that he knew the quote but still didn’t understand, so I explained that if he and his peers didn’t study, say… the causes of the Vietnam War for example, they wouldn’t be able to stop the next knotheaded nation builder from sending them to die in the next Vietnam war. More importantly, it was important for them to be able to recognize the problem because MY generation was likely to be the guys sending them to die, so we won’t be able to protect them.

    I wish that I had been exaggerating about the problem with my generation and that a kid about the age of his little brother hadn’t felt the need to decide to early enlist in the Army to go to Afghanistan from a class I taught a couple of years later. Oh well, live and (don’t) learn.

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  50. Just nutha ignint crackerdd says:

    @Kit: I cheated 🙁 . Gawddam, that was depressing. The only good news was that the cohort in question is only 3% of the population. Not good enough news, but still better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

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  51. Kathy says:

    @senyordave:

    but who out there other than his base looks at his downplaying the crisis and says to themselves “he did a good job”?

    Some people like hearing that everything will be alright and there’s nothing to be afraid of. Others may not even know what Trump’s saying or doing, but they see he’s busy. Still others may believe all his lies about a vaccine that will be ready by dinner time, or that a cure has been found, etc.

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  52. Mikey says:

    @CSK:

    I noticed Sununu forbore shutting down the NH state liquor stores yesterday.

    One of my colleagues in Denver told me the other day the mayor ordered all the liquor stores and pot dispensaries in the city to close at 5:00 PM. Of course, this led to enormous crowds of people in front of and filling all the liquor stores and pot dispensaries in anticipation of the closure. So much for social distancing!

    Upon seeing this, he rescinded the order. I’m not sure why he issued it to start with, anyone could have predicted what would happen.

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  53. Mikey says:

    5:00 PT/8:00 ET is nearly upon us…I’ll be pouring some lovely Buffalo Trace.

    Here’s to us!
    Who’s like us?
    Damn few, and they’re all dead.

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  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Slugger et al.: Cheers! (Bacardi Oakheart Rum is my most recent purchase, but it’ll have to do.)

    ReplyReply
  55. EddieInCA says:
  56. gVOR08 says:

    Sláinte.

    ReplyReply
  57. Slugger says:

    That went down easy!
    Have a great Shabbos all. Reach out. I’ve been emailing people. We are a social species. If I get drunk enough, the phone calls to old girl friends will start. They love that.

    ReplyReply
  58. gVOR08 says:

    @Slugger: That was lovely. We must do it again some time.

    ReplyReply
  59. mattbernius says:

    Cheers!

    ReplyReply
  60. Sleeping Dog says:

    @gVOR08:
    @senyordave:

    No one or at least no rational human being would expect Tiny to finally grow in the job. But if he had seized the moment in late January and early February and confronted the problem rather than blame and deny, he could have mitigated the panic selling in the stock market. We could have performed as well as South Korea, which would have allowed the economy time to recover. He squandered that because he lacked the capability and the interest.

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  61. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    D#mn right the state liquor store is essential. It would be a crisis to run out of bourbon and wine.

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  62. Kit says:

    @Just nutha ignint crackerdd:

    The only good news was that the cohort in question is only 3% of the population.

    Damn! Later, I was wondering about those very numbers as I had not seen them displayed. I’ll need to go back and play with that site. But that can wait until I feel the need to suck a bit of excess enthusiasm from my life.

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  63. Kit says:

    @EddieInCA: I think you had the setting to delete the image immediately after the first view. Only one lucky reader saw that.

    ReplyReply
  64. EddieInCA says:

    @Kit:

    Actually, I set it for 60 minutes. 🙂

    ReplyReply
  65. Nightcrawler says:

    @inhumans99:

    I don’t trust the GOP to keep a leash on the Nectarine Nero. They already allowed him to get away with treason.

    I also don’t think that any of them care if the people under their command live or die. Additionally, they’ve come to see people who live in blue states as being un-humans. The prevailing attitude about NYC in red America is, screw ’em. They’re just liberals, and it’s “better” if they all die.

    However, I sincerely hope that you are 100% right, and I am 100% wrong. I’m not arrogant enough to think I will magically survive what’s coming. I have just as much risk of dying as anyone, maybe even more than some. I’m high-risk, and I’m stuck in Florida, living under a governor who wants to see people like me (meaning anyone who isn’t a Branch Trumpidian) dead.

    My husband and I own property in Delaware, a blue state. Before all this began, we had been planning to move in May. We’d been renting it out, and the tenants left in March — literally days before the apocalypse unfolded. They weren’t good people, and they trashed it on the way out. It’s being repaired right now; our contractor just lost his job, and he’s thrilled to have the work. I’m glad I could help one person.

    Prior to the apocalypse, my reasons for moving were financial in nature. I didn’t hate Florida; it just wasn’t the right place for me to be at this juncture of my life and professional aspirations. I thought that paying to have the house fixed and the logistics and cost of moving us back up there were our biggest problems. Now, I’m wondering if we’re literally going to have to load whatever we can into a vehicle and run for our lives, leaving behind furniture, personal possessions, even another vehicle. Selling vehicles, hiring movers, and renting trucks aren’t things anymore, at least not if you don’t want to get infected.

    We’ll do whatever it takes to not end up on the wrong side of a brandy-new international border. Widgets can be replaced. Our lives cannot.

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  66. Kit says:

    @EddieInCA: I missed it, then, as it disappeared at 5AM local time. I don’t know why, but that’s always a difficult hour for drinking, no matter how I approach it.

    ReplyReply
  67. inhumans99 says:

    @Nightcrawler:

    I understand the fear that Trump will let us all die in Blue States unless someone tells him this action will not get him re-elected, I get it…I am in CA (Bay Area) and my 70+ (Mom’s Birthday is today) parents live in Los Angeles (San Fernando Valley) so as far as President Trump is concerned I and my family live in a state that could fall into the ocean and he would not care but I find myself in the really, really odd, did I mention this is a really odd position of agreeing somewhat with folks like Guarneri, and James P. who love to needle us libtards by rolling their eyes whenever we lament what President Trump say on Twitter and tell us to stop paying attention to what he says on Twitter and more to his actions as President.

    To a limited degree they have a point, and lets take yesterday for example…stories on CNN and elsewhere that VP Pence was told not to talk to Governors who criticize President Trump (I know right, redefines being childish and petty), well…it turns out that Governors have indicated that he is calling them anyway (maybe behind Trump’s back, as I am sure Pence sees no need to report to Trump regarding every call he ever makes), and lets look at Vegas.

    CNN (I was watching a rerun of the Don Lemmon news hour) had the Democratic Governor of Nevada on and the Governor shut down the strip (so yeah….a pretty big fricking deal for the state of NV to shut down Vegas…which is my town of birth, technically Henderson which many in NV consider a part of Vegas, but I digress) and it turns out that Sheldon Adelson (who I understand if very much a friend of the GOP) instead of pounding the Governor for over-stepping his authority actually helped him acquire tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) face masks, so this is like cats and dogs living together, things are so dire that even mortal enemies are working together for a common cause.

    I am happy to give Sheldon praise for his actions even if he takes these actions to get back to rolling in the money. He knows that you need lots of healthy warm bodies to flock to Vegas again when it reopens so he is doing his part to keep things from getting worse, the point is that doing it for money or because he woke up and decided to become the worlds most generous Billionaire is neither here nor there, he is doing good to help people out in a time of need and that is what counts.

    Do I wish we did not have a petty, vindictive President with a stunted intelligence in the White House…sure, sure, but ultimately enough folks on both sides of the political isle are doing whats right to get us to flatten the damn curve and truly get things back to normal, or whatever the new normal will be as quickly as possible.

    ReplyReply

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