Tuesday, July 7, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He decided to be "flexible" after all with the Republican National Convention.

Last month, Trump made the unprecedented decision to move the Republican National Convention from Charlotte, North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida. He blamed North Carolina's Democratic governor for refusing to give assurances months in advance that the enormous crowds of a presidential nominating convention would be permitted. 

Major-party conventions are years in the making, and Trump's last-minute pull-out in favor of a city where convention-goers wouldn't be required to wear masks cost local organizers $50 million—money that is no longer available to pay for the Jacksonville convention. 

Now, with Florida in the midst of a devastating surge in COVID-19 cases, top-level Republican officials (including five senators) are signaling they won't attend the Florida convention. It's not clear if the city or the state—both led by Republican allies of Trump—will even allow the gathering Trump wanted to go forward. Jacksonville's mayor announced today he's in self-quarantine after exposure to someone who tested positive.

And Jacksonville has issued a mask-wearing order.

In other words, Trump burned tens of millions of dollars and picked a fight with a swing state he cannot afford to lose, in order to avoid social distancing requirements and public health orders that will now probably be in force anyway, because a pandemic he says he's beaten is raging out of control.

Today, in an interview, Trump effectively admitted defeat:

We're always looking at different things. When we signed in Jacksonville, we wanted to be in North Carolina. That almost worked out, but the Governor didn't want to have people use the arena, essentially. And so I said, 'Too bad for North Carolina. And then we went to Florida, and when we went, when we signed a few weeks ago, it looked good and now all of a sudden it’s spiking up a little bit and that’s going to go down. It really depends on the timing. Look, we’re very flexible, we could do a lot of things, but we’re very flexible.

Washington Post

Neither Trump nor anyone else seems to know at this point what "flexibility" will be possible.

 Why does this matter?

  • Presidents who can't admit that problems exist can't solve them.
  • The health and safety of North Carolinians and Floridians is more important than Donald Trump getting a crowd that looks good on TV.
  • It's bad if a president makes rash decisions and then shrugs off the consequences.