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The Coronavirus Strain: a new novel by Donald J. Drumpf

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In the book and movie The Andromeda Strain, the Federal government, at the highest levels, had a secret plan in place to deal with a national emergency, like a killer disease from space. According to the plan, the moment a certain defined event occurred—as it did in the fictional Arizona town of Piedmont–everything else clicked into place, down to the most exquisite detail, and sparing no expense.

Well, here we are living in The Coronavirus Strain. You would think the government would have had a plan in place for something so predictable. Any Hollywood screenwriter might have come up with this nightmare scenario:

A new virus is unleashed on the world from China.

It spreads from country to country.

The American government is oblivious from the start.

The rest of the world collapses.

The American economy falls apart; social cohesion ends.

Legal authority is challenged by private militias of roving brigands.

Well, those are just the beginning scenes of a movie that could be a blockbuster, if in fact Americans were allowed to go to the movies. Which, increasingly, we’re not.

Trump’s strategy is now clear. He had first to overcome the embarrassment of his “Coronavirus is a Democrat hoax” fib. He did that his usual way: barreling through, lying, always thinking in terms of his personal political advancement, trusting in the short attention span of Republicans. We don’t know if this strategy has worked, but he seems to believe it has: he’s going to be the new War President, Trump-as-FDR who led us to victory against a foreign [“Chinese”] enemy.

In Trump World, that makes sense. His voters love him best when he’s the most aggressively combative. They don’t care whom he fights with, as long as it’s a group they can demonize: Muslims, gays, snowflakes, Mexicans, Europeans, the media. Now it’s a virus.

It’s difficult for most of us to watch him on his new daily T.V. show, “Fighting Coronavirus.” His co-stars aren’t very interesting. Granted, Dr. Hunk, the Surgeon-General, is eye candy, and Dr. Fauci, playing the scientist, is the Kramer of the bunch; the rest of them are forgettable. But then, Trump doesn’t like competition. He’s the star, and let no one commit the blasphemy of lese-majeste.

Trump is doing what he has to do; so is McConnell, who told his fellow rightwingers in the Senate to “gag, and vote for it anyway.” I’ve been listening to the debate, as have you; this $1,000 one-time payment seems ridiculous to me. A thousand bucks will maybe pay somebody’s April rent and buy some food. What happens in May? We’re practically being guaranteed this shelter-in-place crisis will be going nationwide, and that it will last at least through (in Trump’s own words) “July or August.” By then, the unemployment rate will stand at a figure not seen in America since the Great Depression. Entire industries—airlines, entertainment, food, automobiles, retail—are shutting down, virtually overnight. One thing will lead to another. The dominos are falling.

The question leading into the November election is, Whom do you trust to lead us through this unprecedented crisis? For most of us, the answer is obvious: Anyone but Trump. Joe Biden is not the most inspiring candidate, but then, compared to the last president, Obama, nobody is. Obama was the gift of a lifetime. Obamas don’t grow on trees; we can’t complain about Biden because he’s not Obama. We have to play the hand we’re dealt, and for Democrats and Independents, that hand is Joe Biden.

I occasionally see idiots on Twitter or Faceback claiming that they’re Democrats but they can’t or won’t vote for Biden. I don’t know who these people really are. They might be Republican-Russian trolls just stirring up anger and fear among Democrats. They may actually be disgruntled Democrats who for one reason or another don’t like Joe Biden. My reply to them, either way, is: Great. Don’t fucking vote for Biden. We don’t want your vote. We—meaning the tens of millions of real Americans who are sick and tired of Trump and his Republican cult—are going to vote Biden in as president, regardless of who doesn’t like him. We have learned our collective lesson from 2016: If you don’t vote for the Democrat, you have no right to complain about the Republican.

The thing about Trump at his daily T.V. coronavirus program is how inauthentic he is. At least when he’s at a MAGA rally, he’s the real thing: thundering, lying, boasting, insulting, mugging for the camera, playing Mussolini. By contrast, on his coronavirus show he reads from scripts, seems tired and listless, the bags under his puffy eyes pink and sagging, his head fat and grotesque. There’s nothing there; he’s just going through the motions that his advisors tell him he has to go through: read the words as printed. Don’t improvise. Act as though you give a damn. If you play this well, you’ll get an Emmy—uhh, we mean, you’ll get through this crisis, and be re-elected. To paraphrase Rahm Emmanuel, never let a serious crisis go to waste. You didn’t expect coronavirus, but here it is: COVID-19 has rearranged the deck chairs. You have as much opportunity to benefit from the new normal as Biden. Maybe even more.

It could be true. But I don’t think so. Biden has been very good at one particular thing: pointing out Trump’s inhumanity and indecency. That’s the winning line. The Republican-Trump attack machine will attempt to portray Biden as sleepy old Joe, but what Biden has going for himself is the aura of decency. Everybody, even neo-fascists like Lindsay Graham, says Biden is a good man. Everybody knows Trump is a bad man. That’s what the choice is going to come down to, in this time of uncertainty and fear: Good vs. evil.

  1. Paula Fins says:

    Well said, as always.

  2. Thank you my dear!

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