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COVID-19 Didn't Kill Trump-- But The Way He Handled The Pandemic Did Kill His Re-Election Chances

Gavin Newsom has done a really horrible job handling the pandemic-- not as horrible as Trump, of course, but horrible enough so that he's likely to be recalled. Voters should demand a much higher standard in candidates. I think if "none of the above" were an option in elections, American governance would change profoundly. But if someone were to ask me which governors have done the jobs-- let's say the half dozen worse-- Newsom wouldn't even been one of them... nor would Cuomo, Abbott, Kemp or even DeSantis, although each of them also did horrendous jobs and deserve to never be elected to office again. Judging by the per capita infection rate in their states, these are the 6 worst:

  • Doug Burgum (R-ND)- 125,448 cases per million residents

  • Kristi Noem (R-SD)- 118,619 cases per million residents

  • Spencer Cox (R-UT)- 99,846 cases per million residents

  • Bill Lee (R-TN)- 98,993 cases per million residents

  • Gina Raimondo (D-Biden/RI)- 98,591 cases per million residents

  • Kim Reynolds (R-IA)- 96,074 cases per million residents

Today, the U.S. reported another quarter million new cases today, bringing the total above 24 million-- 72,586 cases per million residents. For comparisons sake, here are the numbers of other large countries:

  • USA- 72,586 cases per million residents

  • UK- 48,708 cases per million residents

  • Spain- 48,160 cases per million residents

  • France- 43,961 cases per million residents

  • Brazil- 39,340 cases per million residents

  • Italy- 38,939 cases per million residents

  • Poland- 37,604 cases per million residents

  • Russia- 24,118 cases per million residents

  • Germany- 24,113 cases per million residents

  • Canada- 18,296 cases per million residents

  • Mexico- 12,250 cases per million residents

  • Japan- 2,449 cases per million residents

  • Australia- 1,117 cases per million residents

  • China- 61 cases per million residents

Trump didn't lose the election because a pathetic wretch like Biden figured out how to beat him. Trump lost his reelection bid because COVID-19 beat him or, rather, because Trump refused to take the pandemic seriously and was judged by the voters of having failed to protect the country. And he's still failing. This morning, Washington Post reporters Isaac Stanley-Becker and Lena Sun wrote that when his regime recently announced that they were releasing all the vaccines to the states, there was already virtually nothing left to release. They misled the public, just like what Trump has been doing-- literally-- from the very first time he mentioned the pandemic. "When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans. The Trump administration had already begun shipping out what was available beginning at the end of December, taking second doses directly off the manufacturing line. Now, health officials across the country who had anticipated their extremely limited vaccine supply as much as doubling beginning next week are confronting the reality that their allocations will not immediately increase, dashing hopes of dramatically expanding access for millions of elderly people and those with high-risk medical conditions. Health officials in some cities and states were informed in recent days about the reality of the situation, while others are still in the dark."

Wonder why Biden has abandoned the name "Operation Warp Speed?" It isn't that it's just attached to Trump's toxic brand. Iy is also because it has been an abysmal failure. This afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported that "Operation Warp Speed leaders waited more than two months to approve a plan to distribute and administer Covid-19 vaccines proposed by U.S. health officials, administration officials said, leaving states with little time to implement a mass-vaccination campaign amid a coronavirus surge. State and local officials had been clamoring for months for help preparing for the largest vaccination program in U.S. history when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a playbook in September to guide them. The CDC had wanted to start helping states plan in June how to get people vaccinated. But officials at Operation Warp Speed rebuffed the agency’s plan for distributing vaccines. They adopted a similar plan in August only after exploring other options-- and then held the release of the CDC’s playbook for states for two weeks for additional clearance and to put it out with another document, the officials said. Operation Warp Speed was supposed to be a high-water mark of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, but it stumbled at the finish line because of problems in federal planning and foresight. Now, the public-private partnership is scrambling to speed up vaccinations, adjusting eligibility guidelines while states race to increase their abilities to administer doses on a large scale. 'They didn’t plan for the last inch of the last mile, the part that matters most-- how you’re going to actually vaccinate that many people quickly,' said Dr. Bruce Gellin, a former Health and Human Services vaccine official and president of global immunization at the Sabin Vaccine Institute."

Trump, Kushner, Meadows, even Ivanka all interfered at key junctures, slowing down the process and sowing confusion and cascading morale.

Michelle Goldberg, writing for the NY Times this morning that Trump is finally facing "the broad social pariahdom he’s always deserved. When a mob incited by the president ransacked the Capitol, killing one policeman and pummeling others, it also tore down a veil. Suddenly, all but the most fanatical partisans admitted that Trump was exactly who his fiercest critics have always said he was. Banks promised to stop lending to him. Major social media companies banned him. One of the Trump Organization’s law firms dropped it as a client. The coach of the New England Patriots rejected the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the P.G.A. pulled its namesake tournament from a Trump golf course. Universities revoked honorary degrees. Some of the country’s biggest corporations, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, pledged to withhold donations from congressional enablers of his voter fraud fantasy. Bill de Blasio announced that New York City would end contracts with the Trump Organization to run two ice rinks and other concessions worth millions annually... The question is whether it’s too late, whether the low-grade insurgency that the president has inspired and encouraged will continue to terrorize the country that’s leaving him behind."

The siege of the Capitol wasn’t a departure for Trump, it was an apotheosis. For years, he’s been telling us he wouldn’t accept an election loss. For years, he’s been urging his followers to violence, refusing to condemn their violence, and insinuating that even greater violence was on the way. As he told Breitbart in 2019, in one of his characteristic threats, “I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough-- until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”
...Throughout his presidency, Republicans pretended not to hear what the president was saying. For the last few months, Republican election officials in Georgia have spoken with mounting desperation of being barraged with death threats as a result of Trump’s ceaseless lies about the election, but national Republicans did little to restrain him. There was no exodus away from the president and his brand when, during the debates, he refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power and told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”
...The end of Trump’s presidency has shaken American stability as even 9/11 did not, and that’s before you factor in around 4,000 people a day dying of Covid-19.
Making Trump face consequences for trying to overturn the election will not, by itself, stop the disorder he’s instigated. But it may be a precondition for making the country governable. “The time to stop tyrants and despots is when you first see them breaking from the demands of law,” said Raskin. Trump, he said, “has been indulged and protected for so long by some of his colleagues that he brought us to the brink of hell in the Capitol of the United States.”
An animating irony of Trumpism-- one common among authoritarians-- is that it revels in lawlessness while glorifying law and order. “This is the central contradiction-slash-truth of authoritarian regimes,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an N.Y.U. historian and the author of “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.” She cited Mussolini’s definition of fascism as a “revolution of reaction.” Fascism had a radical impulse to overturn the existing order, “to liberate extremism, lawlessness, but it also claims to be a reaction to bring order to society.”
The same is true of Trump’s movement. Central to Trump’s mystique is that he breaks rules and gets away with it. To reassert the rule of law, said Ben-Ghiat, “showing the world that he cannot in fact get away with it” is crucial.
That is part of the work of the second impeachment. This impeachment may be as much a burden for Democrats as for Republicans; a Senate trial would surely postpone some of the urgent business of the Biden administration. It has gone forward because Democrats had no choice if they wanted to defend our increasingly fragile system of government.
The very fact that Raskin will lead the prosecution of Trump in the Senate is a sign of the solemnity with which Democrats are approaching it. As you’ve perhaps read by now, Raskin recently suffered the most gutting loss imaginable. Tormented by depression, his 25-year-old son, “a radiant light in this broken world,” as Raskin and his wife wrote in a eulogy, took his own life on Dec. 31, “the last hellish brutal day of that godawful miserable year of 2020.”
Raskin buried his son on Jan. 5, the day before he went to the Capitol to count the electoral vote. His youngest daughter didn’t want him to go; he felt he had to be there but invited her and his other daughter’s husband to come with him. When the mob breached the building, Raskin was on the House floor, and his daughter and son-in-law were in an office with his chief of staff. “The kids were hiding under a desk,” he said. “They had pushed as much furniture as they could up against the door, but people were banging at the door.”
That day, Raskin began working with his colleagues to draft both an article of impeachment and a resolution calling on Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment.
I asked him why, after all he’s endured, he wanted to lead the effort to bring Trump to trial. “I’ve devoted my life and career to the defense of our democracy and our people,” said Raskin, who was a constitutional law professor before he was a congressman. Then he said, “My son is in my heart, and in my chest I feel him every day. And Tommy was a great lover of human freedom and democracy and he would want me to be doing whatever I’m asked to do to defend democracy against chaos and fascism.”
It is not yet clear who Raskin will be up against. Prominent law firms have refused to represent Trump in his postelection legal fights, and Bloomberg News reports that lawyers who have defended the president in the past don’t want to do so anymore. For four years, as Trump has brought ever more havoc and hatred to this country, many have wondered what it would take to dent his impunity. The answer appears to be twofold: Committing sedition, and losing power.

And then there's this, which could turn out to be as consequential as Trump's second impeachment. It's comforting to know Ted Lieu is on the case. He's a follow-up and details guy and he's not likely to let this rest until he gets to the bottom of it.

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