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Opinion | Double, Double, Trump’s Toil, Our Trouble

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Talk about unfair: The one thing holding the country together has been the additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits that has allowed millions to pay the rent and fill the fridge. Republicans, though, are so convinced that the few extra hundred dollars in jobless pay is keeping people from work that they are loath to renew it. Unless Congress gets it together soon and finds a way to extend the aid, the country is going to be facing a catastrophe of homelessness and need that makes these past few months look pleasant.

After the president began doing the coronavirus briefings again, he tried a “new” tone, saying he was getting used to masks — “Think about patriotism. Maybe it helps. It helps” — then face-planting by offering good wishes to a past party pal and accused pedophile enabler, Ghislaine Maxwell. But then things got really crazy as he defended a retweet of a doctor who has promoted hydroxychloroquine as well as declaimed on the existence of alien D.N.A. and demon sperm.

“I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her,’’ he told reporters. (As he told Barstool sports: “It’s the retweets that get you in trouble.”) He fell into more self-pity, complaining about his ratings compared to those of Dr. Anthony Fauci: “Nobody likes me. It can only be my personality, that’s all.”

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It has been clear for some time that Trump’s Panglossian attitude toward the virus was turning him into a public health menace.

But this week, the culture war over masks crystallized with the death of Herman Cain. The former Republican presidential candidate, who dissed masks and Covid restrictions, proudly tweeted a picture from the Trump rally in Tulsa, surrounded by his fellow mask-less friends. “Having a fantastic time,” he wrote. Nine days later, he tested positive for corona. As we have learned, this virus often has the final say.

Right away, White House officials knew that this death would be laid at Trump’s feet. They began warning reporters that they should not politicize Cain’s death.

At the Friday White House briefing, asked if officials were concerned that the 74-year-old Cain may have contracted the virus at the rally, Kayleigh McEnany replied, “We’ll never know,” and sanctimoniously added, “I will not politicize Herman Cain’s passing.’’



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