There’s A Word Missing From The President’s Vocabulary: “Safely”
We watched what the White House called a “COVID-19 and School Safety Roundtable”, in which the President repeatedly expressed his strong intent to get schools in this country opened up with kids in classrooms this fall, and at no time in the 90-minute meeting did the President use that “safe” word.
Here’s what he did say:
“We wanna get our schools open. We wanna get them open quickly, beautifully in the fall….We don’t want people to make political statements…: they think it’s gonna be good for them politically so they keep the schools closed. No way!”
Then, he Tweeted this:
“The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!”
That last part about cutting off funding, while it makes for a good headline, doesn’t matter as much as the President would like you to think. Since most school funding is based on local taxes, and except for special programs, a lot of it doesn’t typically come from the federal government.
Now, Trump’s minions — including Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and CDC Director Robert Redfield — do use the “S” word as they scramble to revamp the school opening guidelines they themselves already put out more than a month ago, because the President Tweeted this:
Although neither Trump nor his Press Secretary would specify which CDC-recommended measures the President finds “tough”, “expensive”, or “impractical”, the original recommendations included things like:
- Teaching and encouraging hand washing
- Teaching and encouraging the use of cloth face coverings
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces “as much as possible”
- Spacing desks at least 6 feet apart “when feasible”
Anyway, what difference would it have made if Trump had said “safely”? Or “quickly, beautifully, safely”? Wouldn’t have changed anything. Wouldn’t have magically created an organized plan from the President to get infections down first, so that schools maybe could be safely reopened by Election Day. So why are we making a big deal out of it?
Trump still would’ve praised Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for ordering all schools in that state open by the upcoming term. Even though Coronavirus cases continue to explode in Florida. Just as he praised DeSantis several months ago for an early reopening of that state, even though it wasn’t even close to meeting CDC guidelines for that either.
We think the President’s consistent omission of the word “safely”, whether unintentional or deliberate, provides valuable insight into the utterly confounding way his mind works.
Since we believe the President truly believes he’s not responsible for the explosion in U.S. Coronavirus cases at all, and always nowadays talks about the spread of COVID-19 in the passive voice: “This horrible China virus: it’s a disgrace that it happened, shouldn’t have happened, but it did”, it’s not really a science nor public health nor safety issue to him.
It’s all politics. And in the President’s political calculus, getting schools reopened “before Election Day” (which is something he does say, and many, many times), is a “winner” that will help him get re-elected. And especially gain him support in America’s suburbs. And that’s why it’s got to happen at all costs.
Our interpretation, we believe, is bolstered by the fact that Trump accuses Democrats of not wanting schools to reopen for the sole purpose of scoring political points by making him look bad. And that’s all it ever boils down to for the President: how he looks.
Also keep in mind the President isn’t just disagreeing with his own CDC, where he could go off and talk to the people who work for him there and jointly roll out a new plan in a perhaps credible fashion. He’s making a public spectacle of disagreeing with the CDC. And that can only be because he thinks it’ll score points with voters.
His thinking that way has to come from thinking opening schools will make him look good, and strong. And so Democrats naturally must want the opposite, just because of him.
When of course every parent that we know regardless of political affiliation wants to get their kids back to school as soon as possible, as long as they’re sure it’s safe. That’s not a political thing at all. It’s really only a safety thing..
We remember way back when, when we wrote a piece contending “Nobody We Know Wants The Economy To Be Closed”, we got a lot of comments like “so you agree with Trump’s premise, just not his timetable?” Thing is, then with the economy, just as now with schools, the premise is the timetable.
The economy is also very much wrapped into the President’s calculation: because the recovery he’s been predicting in the 2nd half of the year might not happen in the way he wants it to if parents are hindered from going back to work because they’ve got kids at home all day they’ve got to take care of.
So politically, he feels he’s got to move. Even if he destroys whatever little credibility remained within the various agencies and people that comprise his administration.
Then, what is the message the President sends to parents when he orders the CDC to loosen reopening rules and threatens school districts that disagree with him?
The same message the President keeps sending in respect to Coronavirus: everybody’s on their own.
Which is interesting, because at the same time, the President is making a big show of telling parents he’s the only thing standing between their families and radical fascist mobs coming to get them in their homes. Score!