I realize it’s always dangerous to be optimistic where Trump is concerned. Perhaps I’m going with hope over experience, but for the first time, I have the sense that the White House accepts the scientific consensus about the threat covid-19 poses. I heard Trump’s usual bluster and bombast at his Rose Garden performance this weekend, but I also heard realism.
Trump’s decision to keep in place national social-distancing guidelines until April 30 abandoned his insane notion that it would be “great to have all of the churches full” on Easter. Potentially even more important, however, was Trump’s prediction that the nation could be getting back to normal by June 1. The inference is that we’ll still be shut down, at least to some extent, through May.
As a practical matter, governors such as Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, Gavin Newsom of California, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Larry Hogan of Maryland and many others were sure to keep their stay-at-home orders in place no matter what Trump decided at the end of the initial distancing period. But this sea change matters for those states, because the president is no longer contradicting state and local orders.
And it potentially matters even more in states such as Mississippi, where Gov. Tate Reeves classified restaurants, bars and almost all businesses as “essential,” and eligible to remain open, because he wanted no part of “dictatorship models like China.” Trump’s pivot ought to put all Republican officials, Fox News anchors and rank-and-file wearers of “Make America Great Again” hats on notice: The Trump-approved way to think about covid-19 is no longer to see it as a minor problem overblown by the president’s enemies in the liberal media. Now the pandemic is a mortal threat that could cost more than 2 million lives, according to your Dear Leader himself, if we fail to take it seriously. [Continue reading…]