Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Team trump is losing it with no viable correction in sight

The long delays in getting COVID–19 test results is just one example of how Trump’s team still does not get it says Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post.

But then they never have. I’ll come back to that presently.

Judging from their TV appearances, President Trump’s advisers are unwilling to admit error and adjust their handling of the coronavirus pandemic accordingly. They still insist they are doing everything perfectly, and still blithely point to about a third of the United States as merely some “hot spots.”

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Adm. Brett Giroir, who heads the widely panned federal testing operation, would not admit that much of anything was wrong … [Americans] in many cases must wait more than a week for test results. This delay makes contact tracing virtually impossible if the person who has tested positive unknowingly continues to infect others.

The economic message was not much better. Economic adviser Larry Kudlow, appearing on the same show, insisted the economy is going great: … "Once again, the message is to just ignore the “hot spots” — which include some of the most populous states. After 17 straight weeks with more than 1 million unemployment claims filed, he gushed over the “strong” jobs picture. Kudlow insisted unemployment benefits are too high, dissuading people from getting jobs … justifying a reduction in benefits, will sound to many Americans cruel and ludicrous. Their parsimony over $600 contrasts with their generosity whenever it comes to tax cuts for the rich or loan subsidies to major corporations.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), whose name frequently appears on the list of top picks for Joe Biden’s vice president, was having none of this. “Well, I think both of them are so sad. For the admiral, I know that he knows better. We are not testing where we should be. The virus is not being contained,” she said. “The states that Kudlow ticked off, as though it was something small, is almost a third of the population of the United States. We have over 140,000 people who are dead. Vice President Pence said a month ago that things were getting so much better; 40,000 people have died since then.” Bass asked: “When will the administration develop a national strategy? This is just so tragic.”

Only about a third of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 8 of 10 Americans think we are headed in the wrong direction.

Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted Republicans, pointing out they gave a $2 trillion tax cut heavily tilted to the rich and big corporations but “they’re resenting $600 for single moms to be able to put food on the table, for dads to maintain the dignity of — of keeping their families intact, and with unemployment insurance, with assistance for rent.” As they are cutting unemployment, Republicans are also proposing liability immunity if their employees come back and get sick. Again, Pelosi was emphatic:

What they’re saying to essential workers, you have to go to work because you’re essential. We’ve placed no responsibility on your employer to make that workplace safe and if you get sick, you have no recourse because we’ve given your employer protection. And if you don’t go to work because you’re afraid of being sick and you have that job opportunity, you don’t get unemployment insurance. This is so unfair. Let’s just get to the heart of it. At the point of all of this is, this president — I have a new name for him, Mr. Make Matters Worse. He has made matters worse from the start. Delay, denial. It’s a hoax. It’ll go away magically. It’s a miracle, and all the rest. And we’re in this situation with — you spelled out some of the numbers very clearly early. So it makes matters worse — now then we send our children to school. The best way to send our children school is to fund it, to fund it.

Cutting unemployment benefits while giving employers immunity is a peculiar way to win votes in an election year, but a good way to pander to donors and right-wing ideologues.

Whatever the Republicans present and whatever the final package will be, their attitude helps explain why they are losing coast to coast, be it in presidential and Senate races or the congressional generic poll for House races. Their denial of the degree to which they have botched the pandemic response and their blindness to the experience of ordinary Americans have not changed. Their suspicion that Americans are somehow goofing off, that parents are irrational for not wanting to send their kids to in-person school and that we should not be concerned about 60,000 or more new cases a day does not suggest they have learned much of anything after 143,000 deaths.

To be sure. But the thing is, this is not new. Republicans have never engaged with policy, have never learned from their mistakes, and have not cared.

I recommend Steve Benen’s book The Imposters He could have expressed GOP attitudes much more succinctly in the words of another of the ruling class: Let them eat cake.

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