Friday, April 10, 2020

Day 29 of Nat’l Emergency: Daily Trump Show Is Best PR for Biden

Did you watch Thursday night’s “Jeopardy”? Specifically, did you marvel at Beni Keown’s orange-fro? Now that was some head of hair atop the Northwestern University freshman. It has even garnered its own Twitter feed.

For my part, it is now 13 weeks since my last haircut. My record is 15 weeks which I am sure to beat given the shelter-in-place command from Governor Cuomo. In case you’re wondering, no way will I allow Gilda to trim my locks. Last time I let an unlicensed female play with my hair I was about three years old. My five-year-old sister promised she wouldn’t hurt me but ever since then, I swear, my once straight hair has been curly. 

The Weather Channel app cautioned Friday’s forecast included gale warnings. It wasn’t kidding. There were whitecaps on the water of our birdbath on the patio.

Speaking of the great outdoors, Gilda says her flowers and vegetables will be among the most educated anywhere. Seems her planting preparations include placing copies of The New York Times in the covered beddings to ward off weeds by blocking sunlight from reaching them. When the newspaper breaks down it becomes good compost. 

I don’t know about you but I am fighting anxiety and depression by largely ignoring the detailed reporting on the new coronavirus. Call it avoidance therapy. If I don’t obsess over every last detail of our collective predicament it won’t go away, I know that, but at least I will not be imprisoned by it. Gilda, on the other hand, reads far more about the pandemic. Perhaps it’s because of her medical background as a nurse practitioner and her decades-ago experience as research coordinator of infectious diseases at New York Medical College.

We are lucky to have each other for company. I cannot fathom how single people are able to stay sane inside their residences. Gilda and I can detach for hours at a time, she in the garden or in searching the Internet for recipes or by sewing; I by writing blogs. But most of the time we have the reassurance of partnership.

We take daily walks, usually at least three miles. Six rotations of our housing development equals three miles. Or we drive to different neighborhoods. Last weekend we walked around Manor Park in Larchmont, a picturesque promontory along Long Island Sound surrounded by breathtaking turn of the 20th century mansions. We couldn’t believe that in 42 years of living in Westchester we had never previously discovered Manor  Park. 

From such simple discoveries sanity sustains itself.

We restrict our viewing to the evening news (NBC or CBS) and “Antiques Roadshow” during dinner. “Jeopardy” and either a movie or an episode of a drama like “Better Call Saul” or “My Brilliant Friend” in our refurnished den, made all the more cozy by our propane gas-powered freestanding stove still fired up on chilly evenings, complete the day. 

We rarely watch television or a movie during the daytime, though we might make an exception today. It’s too depressing to see “The Plot Against America” before we go to bed. 

The HBO adaption of Philip Roth’s book is a portrayal of what might have transpired in America had Nazi-loving, America First-cheering Charles Lindbergh defeated Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election. For those who shiver at the prospect of an autocratic presidency that exults in racial superiority and the diminution of rights thought to be enshrined in- and protected by the Constitution, the series is traumatizing for its relevance to the politics of today.

Under the cover of emergency powers declared to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump and his gang are tightening their grip on the nation. While most of the public is consumed consuming news on the virus, environmental protections are being shelved, asylum seekers are being deported without hearings, government watchdogs are being canned. The ability to vote is being suppressed.

Daily Trump media briefings have drawn criticism for their obvious politicization of the crisis and the seeming indifference Trump has to facts, medical advice and his administration’s culpability in failing to respond early and effectively. The central complaint is bewilderment that the media is providing a platform for his prevarications and mendacity. 

I take a contrary view. Trump on the stump is one of the best agents of change available to Democrats, Independents and thoughtful Republicans who want to see a change of leadership. By denying responsibility, by denigrating anyone who criticizes federal actions, by withholding supplies from states whose governors have spoken out, by showing his almost complete ignorance of the subject, by displaying almost zero compassion for those affected by the illness or unemployment, by caring only about big business and his television ratings, by pushing for an unproven treatment using a drug he is reported to have a financial interest in, Trump reinforces the reasons he needs to be replaced. 

“Democracy dies in darkness,” is the official slogan of The Washington Post. Trump is doing us a favor exposing himself every day. Rather than being lulled into a sense of security by Drs. Fauci and Birx explaining the evolution of the crisis and its treatment, Trump reminds us how nasty, how self-centered, how vindictive he is. 

Joe Biden has no means of securing equal air time to cement his claim to the presidency. His vision will not come into focus until closer to the election. Meanwhile, though Trump’s core supporters have not wavered, the “wartime” president has not been able to sustain new backers as his ineptitude becomes apparent. How fortunate that he is not getting a wartime bump but rather is being shown to be a wartime chump.