In important weekend news, we learn that Trump is sad because it turns out killing 80,000 Americans (and counting) through rank incompetence is making him, personally, less popular.
Oh, and that Republicans are worried that killing off their own electorate might cost them the Senate majority, come November. Not because of the deaths directly, mind you, just because it looks kind of bad. Don't worry, though, they have a plan too: The plan is to argue that they're doing a great job despite all the dying, and also it's someone else's fault.
The Washington Post brings us both stories, but the news that Trump is Sad, as "deaths mount" and as the Trump team abandons efforts to fight the virus to instead focus on "reopening" the country, is surely the more important news. The administration has not been able to orchestrate the sort of widespread testing that other nations are relying on to determine when they should reopen their own economies, so the answer is to not try. There is no contact tracing plan. There is no evidence that anyone has been able to drum into Trump's empty head even the most basic facts about the virus—no, it will not "go away on its own"—or that Mike Pence or any of the other top Trump officials give a particular damn about trying.
And so Trump is sad. The Post reports that some of Trump's advisers "described the president as glum and shell-shocked by his declining popularity" and that "in private conversations, he has struggled to process how his fortunes suddenly changed from believing he was on a glide path to reelection to realizing that he is losing" in the polls to Biden. Truly, Dear Leader is having a moment here.
Oh—and we also learn that Dr. Deborah Birx is upset with the Centers of Disease Control for counting too many deaths. We learn that the administration's distribution of their new bet-everything-on-this wonder drug, remdesivir, is as botched as the rollout of the last one, with not even the task force being given a heads-up before the government shipped out supply of the drug to seven states before anyone apparently bothered to determine which states might most need it. We learn that Jared Fucking Kushner is inexplicably taking command of more bullshit he knows nothing about, and that not even Stephen Moore's only extended family is buying his calls for a little economy-boosting grandma murdering, and that everything remains chaotic, bungling, delusion-based and thoroughly incompetent.
But there is a plan. The new White House plan is that people are going to keep dying, and likely in larger numbers than even now, and Trump is somehow going to argue that that's fine. Or a victory. Or the price America must pay, to have someone as grand and as orange as Himself in charge of it. He's going to resume rallies and Americans are going to continue to die at the rate of 2,000 a day, likely rising higher in the next few weeks.
Is the public "willing to accept that?" frets an anonymous White House adviser to the Post. Yes, that is the real question here. Not whether it should be prevented, but whether the White House will be politically successful in selling it.
That has become the new Senate Republican plan too. In a separate Post story, we learn that Republicans are "increasingly nervous" they will lose the Senate majority as a result of, you know, their party's incompetence killing what could be, in November, anywhere from 100,000 (best case) to quarter million people (our new middle case, perhaps.)
But what if the economy recovers? Then perhaps killing a six-figure number of American civilians might turn out to be politically tolerable. Also, Republican senators plan to tout their support for the massive economic relief packages that they seem to presume are relief-ing far more Americans than so far have been the case. Also also, "efforts to target China will continue throughout the campaign."
It will be a stress test of just how far the Republican base has itself descended into xenophobic fascism, in other words. Is it all right that Dear Leader botched, absolutely, the most pivotal national disaster the nation has seen in a century? What if we claim it is the fault of foreigners? Is the giddy thrill of having an openly racist, boorish national shitposter as leader still so intoxicating that the base will stomach even people in their own neighborhoods dying in order to keep that intoxicating version of "winning" flowing through their veins?
Probably, as the white-nationalism heavy protests against pandemic safety demonstrate. But Republicans fret that their dreaded enemy, also known as absolutely everyone else in America, might have even stronger feelings about Trump killing large numbers of us. Can the party's digital operations nullify all those unpleasant cretins mumbling that maybe they didn't want the Spanish Flu combined with the Great Depression, no matter how much President Hairstyle insists on his victory? Will Republican donors continue to support the party's anti-competence, pro-catastrophe stance, if the party can sweeten the pot by promising to cut their taxes a wee bit more? The pundits will all be on edge.
In the meantime, Republicans are Sad nationwide, it seems, from the White House downward. Not because even after 80,000 deaths the arch-conservative Republican administration continues to not have even one damn clue as to how to stop Americans from dying in whatever proportions the virus wishes them to, but because it is cutting into their poll numbers.
It's very tragic. How very terrible, to live under such a constant feeling of dread and slow-moving disaster. The rest of us would be hard pressed to even imagine what that might be like.