Saturday, July 11, 2020

'Genuine disaster unfolding' - Trump's war on children, Part 1

In her morning email (for July 10), Heather Cox Richardson (Letters from an American) sumarizes House Armed Services hearing.

… the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, appeared before the House Armed Services Committee and took a stand against the Confederate flag, Confederate statues, and Confederate names on U.S. Army bases, in strong opposition to Trump. Talking of those Confederate generals whose names are now on U.S. bases, Milley said, “those officers turned their back on their oath…. It was an act of treason, at the time, against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the US Constitution."

At the same hearing, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed that he had, in fact, been informed that Russia had offered money to Taliban fighters to kill American and allied troops in Afghanistan, so it was not a “hoax,” as the president has insisted. While Esper tried hard to speak carefully enough that he did not antagonize the president, defense officials have told CNN that both Esper and Milley are worried that Trump is politicizing the military, and are determined not to let him drag it into the election campaign.

Charlie Sykes in the Bulwark.com reports that “it’s worthwhile to take note of a genuine disaster unfolding around us.”

Yesterday we once again saw the largest one-day spike in COVID–19 infections. Hospitals around the country are filling up.

And Trump is tweeting out fiats, while sidelining the folks who might be able to navigate us through this.

Here’s the nightmare scenario: an ignorant and narcissistic president who pushes for a premature reopening of the nation’s schools, not because we have a plan to do so prudently, but because it serves his re-election agenda.

As the country enters a frightening phase of the pandemic with new daily cases surpassing 62,000 on Wednesday, the CDC, the nation’s top public health agency, is coming under intense pressure from President Trump and his allies, who are downplaying the dangers in a bid to revive the economy ahead of the Nov. 3 election. In a White House guided by the president’s instincts, rather than by evidence-based policy, the CDC finds itself forced constantly to backtrack or sidelined from pivotal decisions.

The latest clash between the White House and its top public health advisers erupted Wednesday, when the president slammed the agency’s recommendation that schools planning to reopen should keep students’ desks six feet apart, among other steps to reduce infection risks. In a tweet, Trump — who has demanded schools at all levels hold in-person classes this fall — called the advice “very tough & expensive.”

“While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!” Trump tweeted Wednesday. Within hours, Vice President Pence had asserted the agency would release new guidance next week.

“The president said today we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough,” Pence told reporters. “And that’s the reason next week the CDC is going to be issuing a new set of tools.”

Read the whole thing in the Wapo.

UPDATE: A new poll shows that Trump’s ratings on his handling of the coronavirus continue to crater:

President Donald Trump is facing broad disapproval for his management of the two major crises gripping the nation, with two-thirds of Americans giving him low marks for both his response to the coronavirus pandemic and his handling of race relations, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday.

Evaluation of Trump’s oversight of the COVID–19 crisis reached a new low since ABC News/Ipsos began surveying on the coronavirus in March, with 67% disapproving of his efforts. One-third of the country approves of the president’s oversight of the pandemic.

Trump hit a high point back in March: 55% approval, 43% disapproval; it flipped soon after. As of this week the poll reported 33% approval, and 67% DISapproval.

For someone who promised greatness, there seems to be a whole lotta of whining going on. “The president has cast himself in the starring role of the blameless victim — of a deadly pandemic, of a stalled economy, of deep-seated racial unrest, all of which happened to him rather than the country.”

Heather Cox Richardson reports other evidence that Trump is losing support - some GOP Senators are bailing out of the Jacksonville Republican convention.

It appears Trump’s position is weakening. This week, a number of Republican senators announced they were taking a pass on the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, next month, and this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that he, too, might skip it. Earlier this week, his spokesman had said that McConnell “has every intention” of attending the convention, but last week, a Republican source told Reuters that unless Trump’s performance improved by August, McConnell might have to advise Republican Senate candidates to keep their distance from Trump in order to try to hold on to the Republican majority in the Senate.

It seems that McConnell might be making that call earlier than expected.

Finally, Sarah Longwell reports on another group of voters and why they’re shifting away from Trump What Women Want: Here’s what women who voted for Trump in 2016 are saying about him now.

Cutting to it, here are her closing observations based on her focus groups.

One of the Trump voters who had decided to vote for Biden said, “The stakes are too high now. It’s a matter of life and death.”

That’s a pretty a good distillation of why Trump has been shedding support from women over the last few months. The multiple crises laid bare the fact that Donald Trump isn’t the savvy businessman these women voted for. Instead, they see him as a divisive president who’s in over his head.

And they see that his inability to successfully navigate this environment has real-world consequences for actual people.

Average voters weren’t moved by Trump’s obstruction of justice in the Mueller investigation, or his quid-pro-quo with Ukraine, or his many personal scandals. But when people are unemployed, or dying, and the streets are on fire, they want a president who isn’t winging it.

They want someone who knows how the world works and can make the government perform the kind of functions that only it can do. Like managing a coordinated national response to a pandemic. Or using the bully pulpit to bring the nation together during a moment of crisis.

Donald Trump and his campaign think they can stop the bleeding with women by leaning into the culture wars and highlighting looters, rioters, and vandals pulling down statues. But this is a fundamental misunderstanding of these voters. They don’t see Trump as someone who can protect them from the chaos—they think he’s the source of it.

Which isn’t to say that the race couldn’t turn around for one reason or another. I suppose that crazier things have happened in American politics. (Though I can’t think of many off the top of my head.)

But the reality is that no modern president has done more to alienate female voters. His whole life Trump has treated women with disdain. And they are now poised to return the favor.

Sarah Longwell is publisher of The Bulwark.

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