In a season when graduations, weddings, funerals, tournaments have been canceled or moved to the small screen, suddenly it’s OK to pack upward of 20,000 Americans into one space where they will shout, sing, hug, dance a jig and, inevitably, spread coronavirus to each other and our fellow Tar Heels. Or return home with a nasty little souvenir.
It is as though a cast of thousands was hired to dramatize how a pandemic thrives, as if everything we have been told to avoid has been sanctioned.
Of course this long-planned gathering — the Republican National Convention — will blanket businesses with desperately needed cash. As I understand it, some meetings which comply with restrictions may still take place in Charlotte, but the Big Party where the emperor struts his new clothes will not contaminate our state, thanks to Gov. Roy Cooper.
Way to go, Gov!
The first question is why organizers have suddenly gone virus-blind. Actually, not suddenly, since the convention has been planned for a year or more, which means that downplaying its severity (109,000 deaths … could have been worse, he says) to reopen the economy had this in mind. Americans watched incredulously as their commander-in-chief strutted around without a face mask. Social distancing became a sometimes thing, a nuisance really, even as the virus spread to White House staffers who hang up his $5,000 Brioni suits and fetch his Big Macs.
No surprise that a study published in USA Today found 94 percent of Democrats expressing concern over the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. compared to 76 percent of Republicans.
The reason seems as transparent as the plexiglass shield surrounding supermarket cashiers. The emperor thrives on adulation doused with confetti and balloons. Dancing girls, too, if allowed. If not, something resembling the Super Bowl half-time show. Or an old-fashioned Ringling Bros. three-ring circus, with the same whip-wielding ringmaster triplicated.
Maybe this will make up for the Soviet-style military parade he didn’t get.
Still, the hubris of assuming adoring multitudes rubbing elbows at the Spectrum would be OK boggles the mind. Have organizers not computed comparisons to its Democratic counterpart: perhaps part virtual, conforming to virus abatement guidelines, already postponed from mid-July to mid-August?
How does the Republican hierarchy justify this? From the beginning, Rose Garden rhetoric has proven twisted, exaggerated or false, based on the pandemic being a hoax; sputtering over, then quashing the medical professionals, outsourcing the blame, even promoting ineffective if not dangerous treatments.
Remember the one about ingesting/injecting disinfectants?
Well, thank goodness their TV pitchman will be packing up his Lysol and hauling it to Nashville or New Orleans or some state with a governor willing to risk lives for primetime coverage. Las Vegas has been mentioned.
Yes! Do it in Las Vegas with dancing girls to guarantee the ratings.
Gov. Cooper didn’t slam the door; he just wants scaled down attendance, social distancing, face coverings. The president and his forward phalanx demand a “full convention” defined as 19,000 delegates, staff, etc. etc. breathing the same air (shudder), using the same restrooms, traveling in the same buses.
On June 2, the petulant president said the ego show must go on. I cannot imagine Reagan, Bush and Bush, McCain, Romney or other prominent party standard-bearers pulling such a hissy fit.
Gov. Cooper stood his ground. “Neither public health officials nor I will risk the health and safety of North Carolinians by providing the guarantees you seek.”
Gov. Cooper is seconded by Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disease Preparedness: “It is unreasonably optimistic to think that a traditional presidential convention can happen the summer of 2020,” Redlener told The New York Times. “Gathering large numbers of people together is counter to every reasonable public health guideline during the pandemic.”
Guess he’ll be banished to scientific Siberia, along with Dr. Fauci, America’s beloved voice of reason.
But wait — a new development. Convention organizers are toying with a caravan convention, whereby delegates would travel to several cities for the big-top events. That’s right, go forth, spread the love along with the virus.
During this month of profound sorrow over racial injustice, when the phrase Black Lives Matter inspires righteous protests, for ignoring life-saving precautions, Mr. President needs this reminder, offered with respect for its origin:
Republican lives are at stake.
Contact Deborah Salomon at email@example.com.