The New York Times reports, “Officials in Tulsa, Okla., are warning that President Trump’s planned campaign rally on Saturday — his first in over three months — is likely to worsen an already troubling spike in coronavirus infections and could become a disastrous ‘super spreader.’” At the very least, they’d like it to move outdoors. Bruce Dart, the executive director of the Tulsa Health Department, fesses up that he is “a little angry.” Speaking for many, he added, “Frankly, I’m afraid for a lot of people. It hurts my heart that we know this is a possibility and we’re doing it anyway. It’s like seeing the train wreck coming.”
Cases in Tulsa County are rising at an alarming rate, and it’s obvious this is not simply the result of more testing. (As the Times reports, “The number of active coronavirus cases climbed to 532 from 188 in a one-week period, a 182 percent increase; hospitalizations with Covid-19 almost doubled.”) Those undisputed facts do not dissuade Vice President Pence from deliberately misleading residents and the country at large. “In a very real sense, they’ve flattened the curve,” Pence lied. “And today their hospital capacity is abundant, the number of cases in Oklahoma has declined precipitously and we feel very confident going forward with the rally this coming weekend.” This is wrong. It’s a fraud on the public designed to mollify those who correctly fear for their own safety.
Honestly, do they care about the lives of their supporters? It’s a legitimate question, since they are doing everything possible to put people at high risk. And for what, a rally in a safe state? Trump’s narcissism prevents him from considering the interests of others, even if the damage to them is grave and the benefit to him is minimal. In fact, holding the rally in the worst possible conditions is consistent with Trump’s record of discrediting experts; inducing people to go back to work prematurely; pretending the virus is a “hoax” (or at least overblown); and turning a health emergency into a culture war that allows him to whip up his base. (Pence apparently goes along with this because he is too spineless to risk offending his boss, even if fellow Americans may get sick and some will die.)
Republicans lamely make the false equivalence that this is no different from the rallies in protest of George Floyd’s killing (protests during which the police reportedly used tear gas, an irritant that increases coughing and therefore the risk of infection). No, it’s not the same. The rallies were outside, and many protesters wore masks; the cause was to spur action to save other lives (i.e., African Americans who are too often killed by police). Trump’s indoor, mask-less event in service to his own ego is not that.
Trump’s monstrously selfish conduct is in keeping with his overall election strategy, which is to convince Americans the virus isn’t so bad and drive people back to work, thereby sacrificing the lives of many of our most vulnerable Americans (e.g., the elderly, those with preexisting conditions and nonwhites, who have much higher fatality rates). And you wonder why he is losing support among older voters?
In case you had any doubt after impeachment, as House manager Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) put it, “You can’t trust this president to do the right thing. Not for one minute, not for one election, not for the sake of our country. You just can’t. He will not change and you know it.” And those Republicans who voted to let him remain in office and continue to put his interests above those of Americans? The ensuing illnesses and deaths will be on their heads as well.