Bob Franken




When he faces trouble, Donald Trump has a default accusation — it’s De Fault of the immigrants. That would explain his latest executive order, where he is desperately looking to deflect criticism of his administration’s badly bungled response to the coronavirus. He’s doing what he always does — inventing scapegoats. He first announced that he was shutting the door to any foreigner who wanted to enter the United States, thereby solving the unemployment problem by forcing the hiring of Americans. That was his motivation, so he said.
But big business interests screamed bloody murder. They need their cheap labor, so he made tons of exceptions. Still, he appealed to his xenophobic base. These are the same people called out to rally against the restrictions put in place as the commonsense alternative to dying from COVID. The killer virus is still killing, so the restrictions are still commonsense. But these demonstrators chant that it’s time to “liberate” the country and return to that time BC, Before Coronavirus, after which farsighted governors shut everything down in the name of social distancing.
Surprise surprise: They are echoing President Trump. If you think this is all spontaneous, I’ve got some land in Georgia to sell you.
Georgia is perhaps the most ridiculous of the states abandoning the public health protections. Gov. Brian Kemp, a Trumpster if there ever was one, has declared his state open for business, at least until it is consumed by the coronavirus. Among the enterprises that he wants to open: hair salons, restaurants and movie theaters, along with bowling alleys and tattoo parlors. Apparently, the bowling and tattoo interests are big campaign contributors. In the case of hair salons, though, it’s obvious where the pressure is coming from. Let’s face it, we are all getting shaggy these days, and to steal a line from somebody else, it wouldn’t be long before 90% of the blondes will just disappear from the face of the earth.
Still, even Trump feels his groupie has gone too far: “I love those people that use all of those things, the spas, the beauty parlors, the barbershops, tattoo parlors. I love them. But they can wait a little bit longer, just a little bit — not much — because safety has to predominate.”
Nevertheless, Georgia was marching to the tattoo of Kemp’s own drummer, even while joining a regional coalition of other Southern states throwing caution to the coronavirus wind.

At the same time, there are states pondering what’s called a “phased reopening.” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, is taking it slow, although he is under pressure from many in his state’s unique business community. It is really difficult for casinos, for example, to maintain protective measures at the tables. As for that other profession Nevada is famous for, let’s face it, social distancing is impossible. Except virtually.
Meanwhile, when Trump isn’t getting in the way of the governors, he’s impeding the scientists. Every time he touts some existing drug, like hydroxychloroquine, he creates a run on them. They are needed for other uses. Do not underestimate Tony Fauci, who has gained fame as the gentle epidemiologist who has such an impeccable reputation that even Donald Trump doesn’t publicly cross him when he corrects his rants. But when it came to the president’s insistence on touting a hydroxychloroquine combination with azithromycin, a test was performed at the National Institutes of Health. The researchers there all but suspended their study after concluding that continued use of these pharmaceuticals could do harm to the patients. Take that, Mr. President! The study was conducted at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, headed by none other than Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Dr. Fauci will deny that it was his intent to undercut his boss, but he has been around for more than 30 years and countless health crises. He knows infighting. Trump does not, other than scapegoating, inciting and/or taking action against immigrants.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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