The Suburbs and the Death Panel

death panel

Ronald Brownstein, an astute political observer indeed, writes, An Unprecedented Divide Between Red and Blue America: The pandemic could exacerbate a major Trump-reelection vulnerability: his weakness with urban and suburban voters. I strongly recommend you read it for yourself,  but I’ll tell you the bottom line. Republicans can say hasta la vista to white suburban voters.

And I’ll add my own thought: with each day’s new Five O’clock Follies, more of those educated white Republicans are walking out the door.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Chait writes, Trump’s Coronavirus CEO Death Panel Backfires Hilariously: The short, unsuccessful history of Trump’s anti-public health task force.  I strongly recommend you read it for yourself, but I’ll tell you the gist. The faction of Trump advisers who want to “reopen the economy” prematurely, and just accept the resulting deaths, realized this might backfire politically.

The administration needed credible-looking outside allies to give Trump cover for an unpopular decision that could very well lead to tens of thousands of deaths. “The debate this week has been over how to implement the return, what data could be used to justify the decision, and how to build public support for it to provide the president maximum political cover,” two sources explained to the Post.

This line from the same report might be one of the most incriminating sentences ever published about this (or any) president: “Trump’s advisers are trying to shield the president from political accountability should his move to reopen the economy prove premature and result in lost lives, and so they are trying to mobilize business executives, economists and other prominent figures to buy into the eventual White House plan, so that if it does not work, the blame can be shared broadly, according to two former administration officials familiar with the efforts.”

So the plan was to create a national death panel, conscripting corporate America into sharing the guilt in the fairly high likelihood that the plan goes pear-shaped.

Can you see the problem with the plan? Well, yes: Business leaders might not want to be on the Trump death panel. CEOs of large public-facing corporations tend to be cautious types who steer clear of reputational risks, like being implicated in a plan with a high probability of mass death.

By Wednesday, the advisory council had devolved into a Zoom call. …

Most comically, most of the business leaders who did make the call used their time (after the prerequisite flattery for Trump, which everybody knows is needed to make the president pay attention to your message) to urge the administration to step up testing nationwide. “There was a wide consensus that more testing was needed before the economy could reopen,” reports the Times. Business leaders say “pressure tactics to reopen the economy as fast as possible make no sense if the virus isn’t fully under control and consumers and businesses don’t feel safe to resume anything close to normal activities,” reports Ben White.

In other words, the group that was originally designed to counteract the advice of public-health professionals wound up giving Trump the exact same advice.