The Week of Saturday, March 21 through Friday, March 27, 2020 [#36]
The Week’s Most Notable:
Looking back, this was one of the most important weeks in American history. That’s a big statement. Nevertheless, this was the week when the coronavirus situation began to feel really serious. The facts and figures had a monumentally bad look. We haven’t seen anything like this since the Second World War. The coronavirus crisis is nowhere near its peak. We know already that the huge number of cases have overwhelmed our health-care system, but will there be hundreds of thousands or millions of cases? Likewise, will there be tens of thousands or millions of deaths? We know that the economy has taken an enormous hit: Millions are unemployed, much of the economy is shut down, and we have no idea when it can be safely revived – hence the unthinkable sum of money, $2.2 trillion Democrats AND Republicans are throwing at coronavirus relief. As German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a remarkable speech to her nation, “So let me say that this is serious. Take it seriously.”
We have a “Partisan Pandemic,” the first in U.S. history. In most times of great national threat and tragedy, the country pulls together – we seek unity. Not this time. In the beginning, January and early February, Trump denied the existence of a coronavirus threat and attacked media and Democrats as purveyors of a colossal hoax. His 40% of the population, the Trump/GOP base, followed that line. By mid-February, when it became impossible to sustain the hoax claim, Trump shifted for about two weeks into supporting what doctors and epidemiologists recommended, such as quarantine, self-isolation, and social distancing. This spooked Trump’s base and simultaneously shut him off from the oxygen of his political rallies. This week, rather than denying the crisis entirely, Trump shifted to blaming Democrats, especially Democratic governors, and media for exaggerating the crisis. This attack became part of his “get back to work quick” policy. Right-wing media took his lead in every possible direction – from a return to coronavirus denialism, to attacking Democrats and experts such as Doctor Fauci – casting blame for a fake emergency created by liberals. And thus, the country was divided, badly led, and apparently cannot muster an effective national response to one of the worst crises in its history.
Saturday, March 21
[Coronavirus] Globally, Pandemic Hits 300,000 Cases, 13,000 Deaths – Every day the world watches the morbid statistics, wondering how bad it will get. Italy is still the hardest hit and is now under a nationwide lockdown. During the week many nations followed its example.
[Coronavirus] Senate Adjourns for the Day without a Coronavirus Bill – As predicted, Democrats went after the Republicans’ first draft of the bill as being far too generous to corporations, and not nearly good enough to support the workers cast adrift by the economic crisis. At this point, it is expected the bill will exceed $1 trillion.