The GOP Convention Flop is a Microcosm of Trump’s Failed COVID Response

CLEVELAND - JULY 21: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in... CLEVELAND - JULY 21: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio as shown on a television screen in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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July 24, 2020 12:57 p.m.

The Jacksonville GOP convention flop is a microcosm of the administration’s failed COVID response. Months ago Democratic leaders saw the writing on the wall – the impossibility of holding a mass, packed indoor event during a pandemic – and essentially cancelled the 2020 convention in favor of an online affair. The President and many others at his lead portrayed this and messaged it as an example of the Democratic girlyman-ism which makes it so critical to keep Trump and Republicans in power.

When the governor of North Carolina pressed the GOP for a plan to maintain safety and social distancing at the GOP convention in Charlotte, President Trump refused – no social distancing! Then in a huff he canceled most of the events in Charlotte and moved the convention to Jacksonville.

For weeks he’s stuck with the idea even as Florida submerged into a flood of COVID. Then yesterday, apparently without even telling the planners, he abruptly canceled the whole thing in favor of a largely online event.

The problem is that it’s probably too late at this point to schedule much more than a Zoom call. Meanwhile Democrats have had the time to at least figure out and plan what’s possible in the brave new world of mostly online political conventions.

To paraphrase the old phrase, COVID talks and bullshit walks.

Or to quote the Roman philosopher and real estate investor Seneca, “fate leads the willing and drags the unwilling.”

The big story of the Trump administration’s COVID response is that he put the economy (and really the politics) ahead of public health and ended up getting neither. The same has been the upshot of his approach to holding a nominating convention.

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