Philip Bump writes,
So we get the administration’s new approach to the pandemic, one which resembles the final moments of a climactic battle scene in an action movie. The protagonist, after fending off enemy after enemy, sees the finish line in sight. So he puts his shoulder down and makes a mad rush for perceived safety. In this case, the finish line is Election Day. In this case, the enemy is Americans who’ve died of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. …
The alternative to accepting even a “low and steady” rate of deaths (as Trump described the 3,300 deaths that have occurred in the past week) is addressing the pandemic through additional closures and restrictions on movement. The sort of activity that helped push down new infections in April and May — and that Trump prematurely rejected in hopes that the virus was sufficiently contained that normal economic activity could resume. That push to get back to normal is a significant reason the pandemic is getting worse, not better.
But Trump, looking at Election Day, clearly thinks that the economic slowdown from containing the virus will hurt his reelection chances more than a “steady” rate of hundreds of daily deaths from elderly or at-risk people, a disproportionate number of whom are nonwhite. So he puts his shoulder down, picks day-to-day messaging battles that distract from the pandemic, and charges forward.
What he may not recognize is that the death toll may not stay steady — and that he’s farther from the finish line than it might seem.