“Anything to win”

In the last 24 hours (as I write this), 1,164 Americans have died from coronavirus. That is approximately the number of Americans who die almost every day from that disease. The average remains about one a minute, more or less. When you consider that most of these deaths were preventable by the president of the United States, it’s instructive to remember that he almost never talks about those deaths, preferring instead to focus on those parts of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country that have turned violent.

By the way, the number of deaths resulting from the violent side of the BLM protests since they began is approximately 30. In other words, that’s a typical number of deaths from coronavirus in any given half hour. Of course, one thing that the BLM protest deaths share in common with the coronavirus deaths is both of those grim statistics were preventable by Donald Trump. Swift action on coronavirus and swift action on the murder of George Floyd on the part of the “Dear Leader” would have prevented the vast majority of all the deaths from both tragedies.

No matter where he turns, Donald Trump is confronted by his own failures. But denial and blame remain the guiding principles behind Trump’s re-election strategy. While Trump may share the first four letters of his last name with Harry Truman, that is where the similarity ends. For Trump, the buck stops anywhere else but with him.

I do not mean to trivialize the BLM protest deaths. It should be stated unequivocally that all deaths of innocent people are a tragedy, and Joe Biden was right to underscore that violence and destruction of property are to be roundly condemned. As Biden puts it, “Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting.”

But Donald Trump deliberately conflates the protests with the violence because he knows it’s what his racist base wants, and he is exploiting the entire movement in order to get himself re-elected. You may depend on it that should he get re-elected he will never mention the violent side of the protests with the same vehemence after November third, or even at all, because by then it will no longer matter to him. That rhetoric will disappear forever with the rhetoric about the “caravans of lawless immigrants” marching inexorably up from Central America in the run up to the 2018 midterm elections.

Trump’s latest “solution” to coronavirus, when he can be compelled to mention it at all these days, is herd immunity. As he put it in a recent interview with Laura Ingraham, where Trump sounds creepily like a Chicago mob boss from the 1920s, “once you get to a certain number, we use the word ‘herd,’ right? Once you get to a certain number, it’s going to go away.”

The idea behind herd immunity is that the American people will become effectively immune to coronavirus once a certain number have had it, and their immunity will prevent the spread. The idea is not unlike a landmass getting flooded to the point where everyone is living on a series of islands as a way to prevent the spread of fire. While that would certainly work, as with herd immunity, it implies a great deal of death and destruction in order to get there.

For America to become herd immune, fully two thirds of the American population would have to become infected. That would result in a total of around two million deaths. And, of course, that’s presupposing that once a person has coronavirus they will never get it again. That is far from established. In other words, as a coronavirus strategy, herd immunity is deeply flawed.

So Trump’s only recourse these days is to underscore the violent side of the BLM protests and ignore coronavirus, or blame China for it and look to the discredited eventuality of herd immunity to solve his problem for him. Or as Michael Cohen puts it in his new book, “Disloyal,” Trump’s strategy is “doing anything—and I mean anything—to win.”

Of course, one of the most puzzling things about Donald Trump is, doing the right thing in order to win has never been a tool in his toolbox, even when it can help him, even when it can get him re-elected, even when it can keep him out of prison. Why this should be so, why he has an apparent allergy to doing actual good, I leave to the psychologists and psychiatrists among you. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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