By Robert A. Vella
There is this stubborn myth out in the ether that Donald Trump is invincible, that he possesses a Teflon-like resistance to being held accountable for the innumerable offenses he has committed in his life. Trump certainly has audacity, and his insatiable ego does project the image of omnipotence. These traits, which can be correctly seen as antisocial personality disorders, appeal to a large proportion of the population regardless of whether individuals approve of such behavior or not. For example, the personage of Adolf Hitler as a super-strong and effective leader persists to this very day even though he continues to be reviled as probably history’s greatest villain. This penchant for powerful leaders and supreme authority manifests itself from deep within our human psyche. Children and young people are particularly impressionable as are mature adults who were raised as subordinates in hierarchical families and social structures (e.g. religious fundamentalism). In any case, the phenomenon can be generally described as hero-worship.
In extreme forms of hero worship, we see deep attachments to a charismatic individual who might represent an intense belief system (“ism”). In research I did years ago I looked at many ‘true believers,’ zealous followers of leaders of various religious movements and cults.
In the minds of the impressionable young adults, the leaders were close to “perfect,” even attributing to them “super human” abilities and wisdom. (Caveat: The vast majority became disenchanted in under two years, and saw the leaders for what they were in reality: “Ordinary People.”)
Whether our role models are creative people who contribute to human progress and quality of life, or others who provide us with entertainment and stimulation, to put any outstanding individuals on pedestals of perfection is fraught with the specter of disillusionment.
There are no “perfect people.” Our role models may have impressive characteristics and talents which can sweep us away (at least for a while), but we inevitably learn they have weaknesses and faults.
From that perspective, President Trump appears to be unbeatable no matter what pratfalls plague him. Despite months of consistent analytical evidence showing Trump’s reelection chances fading, his fanatical supporters keep pointing to his surprising 2016 Electoral College victory as proof that the media and political punditry will be wrong again, while many of his opponents are nervously wetting their beds over facing what they perceive as an indestructible foe. However, such intuitive hopes and fears are contrasted by what’s happening behind the scenes in American politics; and, one recent development may reveal more than most observers realize. The unreal myth about Trump is colliding headlong into his very real desperation about the 2020 election.
Trump’s willfully negligent failures over the coronavirus pandemic have demonstrably eroded support among his own base especially among older voters who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. He does understand this because his advisors have been warning him for weeks. To reinvigorate that support, Trump is throwing red-meat at his base in the form of idle threats to prosecute and jail his most despised adversaries (i.e. former president Barack Obama and former vice president Joe Biden). Why? Because Trump has given up trying to contain the viral contagion and is pushing the panic-button to reopen the economy as quickly as possible. The strategy is analogous to a “Hail Mary” pass in American football in which the probability of success is low but the potential scale of victory is high.
From: Trump, Biden and the Myth of ‘But 2016’ [by Jonathan Martin of The New York Times]
What Mr. Trump’s stunning win and Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s extraordinary comeback in the 2020 primaries both demonstrate, they say, is the crucial importance of momentum-changing events, the mood of the electorate and the ingrained perceptions of the candidates. Tactics like well-produced campaign ads, high-profile endorsements and clever one-liners at debates often matter far less, as Mrs. Clinton found.
In other words, Mr. Trump’s 2016 victory is not predictive in 2020 — not for an incumbent running for re-election amid a public health catastrophe that has killed over 80,000 Americans and caused another 36 million to lose their jobs.
It’s not that Mr. Biden is a lock to win this November. In an era of intense polarization, coast-to-coast landslides in presidential elections are as much a relic as eight-track players. Further, as 2016 vividly illustrated, late-breaking events can shape elections, and Mr. Trump will go to great lengths to win. And in a close race, campaign organization can matter.
Mr. Trump faces a tough environment right now. After the president enjoyed an initial bump in polling, voters have soured on his handling of the virus. Surveys show that, in a contrast to 2016, voters who dislike both of this year’s nominees overwhelmingly favor Mr. Biden. And polls currently indicate that Mr. Trump is trailing Mr. Biden in battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan and that the two are running closely even in more conservative states like North Carolina and Georgia.
Some Trump opponents, for strategic reasons, are not playing up his political vulnerabilities in the general election. They want to make sure their voters continue fretting about Mr. Trump’s re-election so they will be more likely to volunteer their time and money toward defeating him.
Republican voters widely expect President Trump to be their party’s nominee in the November presidential race, but nearly one in four said that they think the GOP should find “someone other than Trump” ahead of the election, according to a new survey.
The conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports poll released Thursday found that 23 percent of likely Republican voters across the country think that their party should “find someone other than Trump to be their nominee,” according to the survey results.
Such sentiment could damage Trump’s bid to keep the White House. Trump has virtually no path to victory without winning Florida, and older voters are key to that effort. Older voters make up an outsize share of the voting population in the state, where Trump defeated Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by just over 1 percentage point in 2016. Nationally, Trump carried voters 65 and older in the state by 9 percentage points, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.
Some Republicans warn that could be tough for Trump to repeat as the public health and economic fallout of the pandemic deepens.
Any erosion of support among seniors could doom Trump if this November’s election is as close as four years ago. A trio of Midwestern battlegrounds — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — feature sizable aging populations. Arizona, another state that Democrats hope to flip in 2020, is home to a growing number of retirees.
“Obamagate” is a convoluted mess of conspiracy theories untethered to reality. It is a deflection from the utter catastrophe unfolding daily because of the Trump administration’s disastrous coronavirus response.
That may not matter. Trump has used the “witch hunt” strategy since the start of his presidency, and, when it comes to his base and his allies in Congress and the administration, it works.
Here’s today’s news:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Thursday six one-page documents to help guide schools, restaurants, mass transit and other businesses to reopen safely while protecting against the spread of the virus.
All of the documents require the establishments to comply with local health officials’ orders and to be able to protect higher risk employees. Schools, child care and camps require screening of children and employees for symptoms and exposure history.
The Associated Press reported that the six documents are much shorter than more extensive reopening guidelines that the CDC had prepared but that the Trump administration delayed.
The British medical journal The Lancet published an editorial blasting President Donald Trump and his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic while also calling for a president to take office in 2021 who “will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics.”
The prestigious medical journal wrote in the editorial the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made mistakes in the early days of the virus spread in the U.S., but that years of funding cuts and consistent undermining of the agency’s health experts by the Trump administration has further weakened the CDC’s response.
“There is no doubt that the CDC has made mistakes … But punishing the agency by marginalising and hobbling it is not the solution,” the journal wrote.
Areas in the United States that do not adhere to any social distancing policies face 35 times more cases of the novel coronavirus, according to a study published Thursday in a peer-reviewed health-care journal.
The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, looked at the policies mandating social distancing, and found that the longer a measure was in effect the slower the daily growth rate of covid-19, the virus’s disease. Researchers from the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville and Georgia State University looked at confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States between March 1 and April 27, totaling about 1 million reported instances at the time, illustrating “the potential danger of exponential spread in the absence of interventions.”
US retail spending declined by a record amount in April for the second straight month. The contraction comes as the widespread coronavirus lockdown freezes economic activity and consumer spending.
Retail sales plunged 16.4% in April, according to a Friday report from the Commerce Department. The decline was more stark than economists expected. The median estimate compiled by Bloomberg was for a 12% drop.
It marks the measure’s second straight record drop after it fell 8.3% in March. At the time, that was the worst drop in the series, which began in 1992.
Usage of food stamps is surging across the U.S. as unemployment soars to its highest level since the Great Depression. But enrolling for food aid may soon get tougher, with the Trump administration pushing to implement a policy that would curb access to the federal program.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week said it is appealing a court ruling that blocked the Trump administration from imposing additional work requirements to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on poor adults without children, according to court documents. The Trump administration has sought to cut the food stamp program, with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue arguing last year that the program was meant to provide “assistance through difficult times, not a way of life.”