The experts have gotten things wrong. American public-health officials, including the surgeon general, once loudly told us all not to bother wearing masks. It now seems this was a Noble Lie, where they sought to reserve limited supplies for frontline healthcare workers, but why not just be honest about that and tell people to make their own face coverings at home? Yes, the mask culture war is a shitshow now, but back then the whole country had mobilized in the collective sacrifice of lockdown. The experts long emphasized hand-washing, believing the novel coronavirus spread widely on surfaces, and while we should all keep up the soap, it now looks like that kind of surface spread isn't a major threat. This is the cost of doing business during a rapidly evolving global emergency, one where we did not know—and could not know—much about the virus when it first came on the scene. Perhaps the experts' biggest failure was not emphasizing how provisional the advice was.
Still, it's hard to see any source of hope outside the community of experts, as the pandemic once again spirals out of control in the United States. The way out certainly will not be found in our political leadership. The president spent this morning sharing the public-health stylings of Chuck Woolery, the former host of Love Connection, who logged on to spout off some conspiratorial nonsense. Apparently, the president couldn't have said it better himself. So he retweeted it to his 83 million followers.
The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19. Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most , [sic] that we are told to trust. I think it's all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I'm sick of it.
Video: A timeline of President Trump’s coronavirus comments through April 2020
Attacking doctors during a pandemic is certainly a novel approach. So is attempting to destroy the face of your public-health apparatus, but that's what Trump and his craven apparatchiks are up to, according to the New York Times.
President Trump’s advisers undercut the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, over the weekend, anonymously providing details to various news outlets about statements he had made early in the coronavirus outbreak that they said were inaccurate. ...
The list of statements, laid out in the style of a campaign’s opposition research document, was later released to several news outlets. It was an extraordinary move for the White House to provide news organizations with such a document about a health official who works for the administration and retains a high level of public trust.
Again, Fauci has gotten things wrong. He participated in the Noble Lie around mask-wearing. But did they also resort to deception and ratfucking? What do you think?
For example, White House officials pointed to a statement by Dr. Fauci in a Feb. 29 interview that “at this moment, there is no need to change anything that you’re doing on a day-by-day basis.” But they omitted a warning he delivered right after.
“Right now the risk is still low, but this could change,” he said in the interview, conducted by NBC News. “When you start to see community spread, this could change and force you to become much more attentive to doing things that would protect you from spread.”
In the same interview, Dr. Fauci also warned that the coronavirus could become “a major outbreak.”
At present, as the Times mentions, it doesn't seem like particularly good politics to attack Fauci. He's got the trust of 67 percent of Americans when it comes to information about the pandemic, according to a Siena College poll, while Trump is at a disturbingly high 26 percent. But you've also got to factor in that if the great hulking disinformation machine gets going on the American right—if Trump fully positions Fauci as an Enemy of the People, which is to say, an enemy of Trump—then the percentage of Republicans who despise Fauci will spike like the case numbers coming out of Florida. It won't be long after that before a lifelong civil servant is recast as a globalist Soros plant, cleverly installed in the National Institutes of Health back in 1968 just so he could bring down Mr. Trump today.
For people who retain at least one foot in the real world, however, it should be clearer than ever that the president intends to try to lie the pandemic away. Don't Believe Your Eyes and Ears, adapted for plague times. It seems hard to believe that a majority of Americans—or even the minority Trump needs to win re-election in our stupid-ass system—will choose to ignore people dying around them five months into this, when other countries have their outbreaks under control while the United States has a quarter of the world's deaths spread across just four percent of its population. But it seems anything is possible in a country as Exceptional as this one. Having allowed other countries run by authoritarian strongmen to briefly overtake us in the COVID stakes, we have swiftly surged back in front.
And this is a glimpse of our future over the next few months. Here's another public-health bulletin from Mr. Love Connection.
There is so much evidence, yes scientific evidence, that schools should open this fall. It's worldwide and it's overwhelming. BUT NO.
Does he link to this voluminous evidence? Cite a source? Of course not. This message is not for people who are interested in verifying whether this information comports with reality. They don't believe in that, because they long ago pledged themselves to a man and a movement that rejects the concept. Facts are whatever you can get enough people to believe. The contours of reality can be bent to your preferences. Your staffers can tell reporters—anonymously, of course!—that the re-election strategy is to get Americans to accept thousands and thousands more of their fellow citizens dying. Well, that and stopping enough Americans from voting on the suspicion they might vote the wrong way.
And so the president will get his lackey, the governor of Florida, to reopen the state's schools in August even as it becomes one of the world's epicenters. Trump has no intention of actually combatting the virus—reducing infections, limiting hospitalizations and deaths. His intent is to Return to Normal at any cost, which he belatedly realized involves getting kids back in school so their parents aren't homeschooling them between work Zooms. Except none of this stuff can actually happen while the house is on fire, which it very much is, despite the president's morning pronouncements that we're all enjoying the niceties of a floor-to-ceiling wraparound fireplace. If we as a nation do not, in this moment, realize that the presidency is a job requiring particular skills and expertise, not a protagonist in this bizarro reverse-Truman Show in which we've all been cast, then we will deserve whatever comes after.
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