Speakers during Tuesday’s portion of the RNC repeatedly referred to the coronavirus pandemic in the past tense, as though it’s something the US has already overcome thanks to President Donald Trump’s leadership. In reality, the virus continues to ravage the country, and Trump hasn’t developed a plan to get things under control beyond blustering and buck-passing.
The worst offender was White House economics adviser Larry Kudlow, whose speech on Tuesday made it sound like the coronavirus was over.
“It was awful,” Kudlow said. “Health and economic impacts were tragic. Hardship and heartbreak were everywhere. But presidential leadership came swiftly and effectively with an extraordinary rescue for health and safety to successfully fight the Covid virus.”
In reality, while daily new Covid-19 cases have trended downward over the past month or so, there were still 36,679 of them in the US on Tuesday according to the Covid Tracking Project. On Monday, the US had more new cases than all other countries with the exception of Brazil and India.
Our daily update is published. States reported 634k tests and 37k cases. The death toll today is 1,147. After lower reported deaths over the weekend, today we see the totals back over 1,000. pic.twitter.com/fTHfmuRvDy
— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) August 25, 2020
And while Trump wants people to believe the economic recovery from Covid-19 is already largely complete, the unemployment rate remains over 10 percent and weekly jobless claims have actually started to tick upward.
Kudlow wasn’t the only offender. The main purpose of Cissie Graham Lynch’s speech was to demonize abortion, but she referred to Covid-19 in the past tense. (“Even during the pandemic, we saw how quickly life can change.”) And Melania Trump described the coronavirus as something that “swept across the country,” though she did go on to extend her “deepest sympathy … to everyone who has lost a loved one, and my prayers are with those who are ill or suffering” — comments that stood out because so many speakers simply pretended the pandemic isn’t happening.
Pretty sure that was the first time anyone tonight has expressed sympathy for those killed by Covid
— Sam Stein (@samstein) August 26, 2020
All this came a day after the RNC went to painstaking lengths to portray Trump as a visionary leader who helped the US triumph over the coronavirus, as opposed to “Democrats, the media, and the World Health Organization,” all of whom “got coronavirus wrong.”
But as my colleague Ian Millhiser detailed, all one has to do is look at a chart of new daily cases in the US compared to other developed countries that more effectively contained the virus to understand how brazenly that argument turns reality on its head.
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