Do we know why Trump even started this? Maybe he knows the convention cannot go forward and hoped to shift blame to a Democratic governor. (If that was his intent, it backfired, and the president now has multiple, reckless Republican governors offering to have a convention involving crowds of thousands of people — many of whom refuse to wear masks.) Alternatively, maybe Trump wanted to create a fight with a Democratic governor (so many have outshone and out-polled him of late), disregarding that Cooper is hugely popular and that North Carolina is a swing state. Should Trump actually pull the convention and set up a pandemic hot spot in another state, he will manage to insult both North Carolinians (those upset he left) and residents of the new state (who don’t want the danger and costs associated with a convention as they are fighting a pandemic).
This would be laughable if not so frightful: Trump is so self-absorbed, he is willing to have many of his closest supporters infected and possibly die so he can have the “optics” of a convention. It does not cross his mind that this might be bad politics (not to mention morally reprehensible). He cannot comprehend that millions upon millions of Americans will look upon this display of selfishness and recklessness as yet another reason to boot Trump from office.
During a rare TV interview (considering how well this went, there should be more), former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, blasted Trump for his selfish, dangerous behavior regarding masks. “This macho stuff, for a guy . . . I shouldn’t get going, but it just, it costs people’s lives. It’s costing people’s lives,” Biden said. He added: “Presidents are supposed to lead, not engage in folly and be falsely masculine.” He accused Trump of “stoking death.” What is true of Trump’s refusal to wear a mask is doubly true of his insistence on bringing a pandemic-spreading crowd to the Republican convention. (Retorting to the Trump campaign’s insinuation that Biden is in mental decline, the former vice president said, “Look, I mean, talk about a guy who’s missing a step. He’s missing something, man.” Empathy? Coherence?)
Biden is right that real men do not endanger others because they are vain. The do not put the vulnerable at risk. (They surely do not torment the parents of a deceased daughter.) Lacking qualities we associate with responsible adulthood, Trump is left to flail wildly about, creating fights and pounding his chest. It’s false bravado. It’s the conduct of a schoolyard bully who refuses to be held responsible for his own conduct. It’s the behavior of someone heading for an election thrashing.