Friday, April 24, 2020

Trump Goes Viral, Con't

As the US death toll from COVID-19 now approaches 50,000 this weekend, Trump's once unbreakable bastion of support from his base, while still strong, is starting to show some ugly cracks.

President Donald Trump has made himself the daily spokesman for the nation’s coronavirus response. Yet few Americans regularly look to or trust Trump as a source of information on the pandemic, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research
Just 28% of Americans say they’re regularly getting information from Trump about the coronavirus and only 23% say they have high levels of trust in what the president is telling the public. Another 21% trust him a moderate amount. 
Confidence in Trump is higher among his supporters, though only about half of Republicans say they have a lot of trust in Trump’s information on the pandemic — and 22% say they have little or no trust in what he says about the COVID-19 outbreak. 
But even as many Republicans question Trump’s credibility during the pandemic, the overwhelming majority — 82% — say they still approve of how he’s doing. That’s helped keep the president’s overall approval rating steady at 42%, about where it’s been for the past few months
Lynn Sanchez of Jacksonville, Texas, is among those who backs Trump despite reservations about his credibility. Sanchez, who identifies as a political independent, said she trusts “only a little” of what the president says about the crisis, but believes he’s “doing the best he can.” 
“He’s contradicted his own health experts a couple of times. I believe he gets carried away and doesn’t sit down and think things through,” said Sanchez, a 66-year-old retired truck stop manager.

The survey’s findings underscore Trump’s rock-solid backing from Republicans, who have been unwavering in their overall support throughout his presidency, despite reservations about his credibility and temperament. If that support holds through the November election, Trump would still have a narrow — but feasible — path to victory.

It's that last part, the "support through the November election" part, that I don't see happening.  A lot has happened in just the last six months, let alone the last six weeks.  We're now up to 26 million jobless claims since March 15. There's no real end to this mess in sight, despite the wishful thinking of Republican governors wanting to open restaurants and beaches. 

Trump has no clue how to handle this situation, he is almost uniquely and aggressively unqualified compared to even the average American, let alone past chief executives. He's just throwing things at the wall six days a week and seeing what sticks and what tests well among his base, no matter how outlandish and ridiculous the statements are. There remains no coherent national response, it's 100% up to the states at this point as far as the "boots on the ground" actions of dealing with the virus.

It's going to become pretty clear that extended shelter-in-place orders aren't going to be tolerated by the truly dangerous end of Trump's base much longer.  Stirring up a couple hundred "grassroots" supporters on Facebook to go harass the governor's mansion is one thing, but the violent white supremacist terrorists aren't going to sit around and play Animal Crossing all day.

And while the virus may be more prevalent in NYC than in Des Moines or Flagstaff or Mobile, the economic damage to red state economies that are already dependent on the federal government is going to be much more devastating. We're looking at a perfect storm situation where a lot of bad things could possibly happen all at once on both a pandemic and social unrest scale and given that the last month or so has felt like a year, we still have six months and change to the election.

A lot can happen in six months, and I expect very little of it will qualify as good.  It's going to get to the point where the lack of leadership from the White House is going to result in something breaking down deep in the gears of society and at that point all bets are off once we hit that systemic failure scenario.

Things didn't really go bad in 2008 until Bear Stearns went under, and even then it still took a year before the economy stopped bleeding.  We've seen more damage than 2008 to our economy by a factor of three in just six weeks.  We're just plodding along trying to get through the next 24 hours and repeating that right now and it's taking all we have just to do that.

And I think very, very soon something fundamental will change all this and then we see how long we can juggle bottles of nitroglycerin before the whole thing blows.   I don't know what comes next, and anyone who says they do is lying.

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