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Trump’s Arizona Rally Confirms His COVID Policy Is Driven Only by His Ego

It’s all too terrible for a Hollywood script, and exactly as real as your next breath.

President Trump arrives for the Students for Trump event at the Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona, on June 23, 2020.

Part of the Series

Pretend for a moment that I’m a Hollywood writer pitching a script to a producer. It’s a tragic farce, I’d say, about the worst president in history allowing tens of thousands of his own people to die in a preventable pandemic because he thinks actually addressing the crisis will make him look bad on television.

The harshest scene in the movie? After one failed political rally in a hyperinfected state that saw thousands of people deliberately exposing themselves to infection and death, this calamity president holds another rally days later in yet another state where the pandemic is running wild, this time with mostly young people attending. Many of them don’t protect themselves, either, because the evangelical megachurch hosting the rally says they have a magic machine that destroys the virus in ten minutes. The name of this church? “Dream City.”

…and out on my ass I’d go. Not even Netflix would buy such a preposterous premise. It is simply too absurd for the screen, be it big or little.

Look out the window, friends. Trump’s Dream City is all around us now. It is the new name of the nation whose people have been murdered in order to fit a failed president’s eternally warped sense of his own indelible greatness. It’s all too terrible for a Hollywood script, and exactly as real as your next breath.

There were 3,000 attendees at Trump’s Dream City Church gathering in Phoenix, Arizona, a state where infections have jumped 142 percent since Memorial Day. Most of them were in the same young demographic which has been getting newly infected at such a dangerous rate that Anthony Fauci specifically warned about the phenomenon during congressional testimony yesterday.

Trump did not, does not, and will never care. He devoted fewer than 10 minutes out of another rambling masterpiece of incoherence to actually discussing COVID-19 with those mostly unmasked, shoulder-to-shoulder young folks, choosing instead to shower that audience with the contents of his bloated spleen, again.

When Trump did nick the topic while in Arizona, it was only to lie about it. Did you know his border wall, which doesn’t actually exist, stopped COVID? Trump preposterously said so, during a visit to one of the wall fragments his cronies have actually managed to construct.

It’s hard to know where to begin with this one; when I try, the bearings in my mind seize and proceed to melt. Suffice it to say that walls don’t “stop” viruses unless they fall on someone who is infected, and at that point you have a whole different problem anyway.

Trump’s “Dream City” Arizona campaign swing was preposterous from wheels-up to bedtime. The AP photo of Trump examining that sliver of wall yesterday looks so much like the scene where the hominids behold the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey that I am almost completely undone by the comparison.

Trump’s pivot to the border wall and immigration is a return for him to the well-known political harbor of race-baiting that has ever been his go-to topic in times of trouble. Immediately after the debacle in Tulsa, he reached for White House senior adviser Stephen Miller’s fascist immigration policy playbook in an attempt to change the topic and placate his unsettled base. This is a script we have all seen before.

“The number of new COVID-19 cases are spiking in several states, but President Trump did not announce new public health responses on Monday,” reports Truthout’s Mike Ludwig. “Instead, he issued an executive order extending and expanding suspensions of immigration and guest worker programs until the end of the year. The White House is also moving to push lower-wage workers out of the H-1B visa program, and it barred asylum seekers from gaining lawful employment for one year after filing a claim.”

These useless and callous actions will accomplish two goals: They will spread more misery, and they will make the racists within Trump’s base happy. That’s it, that’s all, turn out the lights when you leave.

COVID-19 is exploding across a wide swath of the country as the first wave of the pandemic continues its long burn through the populace. According to NBC News, Oregon has seen a 234 percent jump in infections, Oklahoma has seen a 202 percent jump, and Florida’s rate increased by 155 percent, all since the Memorial Day holiday weekend when too many people listened to either our damfool president or their own damfool governors and failed to take proper precautions.

Speaking of damfool governors, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas — who led the way for states seeking to “Reopen” too soon — is facing a massive spike of infections as well, and sounds positively panicky about it… yet he has not summoned the will to even discuss a reinstatement of broader safety measures like some neighboring states are doing as their own spiking infection rates threaten to topple their fragile medical infrastructure.

Why the hesitation, even in the face of looming disaster? Just a guess, but Abbott has a Trump drone named Dan Patrick for a lieutenant governor, and Patrick would likely cut Abbott to ribbons if he deviates too far from established Trumpian orthodoxy on COVID. This is not a good reason for Abbott to let his own constituents sicken and die, but it’s probably the reason why exactly that is going to happen.

How bad is it, really? The U.S. leads the world in COVID-19 casualties, with more than 2.3 million infections and over 121,000 deaths. Other nations that endured similarly severe outbreaks have successfully labored to contain the pandemic, while rates of infection here break records daily.

Those numbers, bad as they surely are, are also below the actual infection rate because the Trump administration has deliberately dragged its feet on establishing a national testing regimen. Trump admitted this on Saturday, and has confirmed it at least twice since.

On Tuesday, Fauci told Congress that more testing was desperately needed. Trump’s response? “The Trump administration is planning to defund a number of COVID-19 testing sites across the country,” reports Truthout’s Chris Walker, “and it remains unclear whether doing so might be part of a broad plan by the president to ‘slow down on testing.’”

Trump is also giving serious consideration to a dramatic scale-back of the COVID national emergency declaration, all so he can “declare victory over the coronavirus” in an election year, even as the bodies pile up around his feet.

As early as next week, the European Union (EU) may announce restrictions that would block Americans from traveling to Europe. “That prospect, which would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome, is a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of President Trump’s handling of the virus in the United States,” reports The New York Times. Such a move would be a body blow to the EU’s own attempts at an economic recovery, but it is so bad over here that they may have no choice.

Meanwhile, it was announced today that New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will quarantine visitors from states with high coronavirus infection rates for 14 days upon arrival. At present, those states are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington, though the list may expand depending on circumstances.

Dream City, baby. Where everything you want to be true comes true because you say so, and never mind the wailing in the hospital hallways. It’s an ongoing nightmare for the nation. For Trump, however, that dream will never die, even as so many of us do.

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