Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday August 26, 2020
The coronavirus took a back seat to culture wars during the RNC’s first night
Despite the ubiquity of the coronavirus in American life in 2020, the pandemic was not a top tier issue during the first night of the Republican National Convention on Monday.
Rather than placing the pandemic as a central theme to kick off the convention — in the way 9/11 did for both parties in 2004 — the leadoff speech Monday night from 26-year-old Charlie Kirk framed Trump as “the bodyguard of western civilization.”
Segments on violent crime and cultural issues like “cancel culture” far outweighed anything on the virus.
In one clear COVID-19 focused bit, Trump did a stand around interview with frontline workers.
In a mix of asking them how they were doing and soliciting flattery, Trump once again made avoidable missteps that have come to characterize his response to the pandemic.
“Your blood is very valuable, you know that, right?” the president told a COVID-19 survivor.
“OK, and I won’t even ask you about the hydroxychloroquine,” Trump quipped at another point, referring to the unproven therapeutic normally reserved for malaria treatment. There was also a speech from a West Virginia nurse that praised Trump’s pandemic response.
“As a health care professional, I can tell you without hesitation Donald Trump’s quick action and leadership save thousands of lives during COVID-19, and the benefits of that response extend far beyond coronavirus,” Amy Ford, a registered nurse from Williamson, W.Va. said.
The only other focused messaging on the virus came in repeated lines about Trump banning travel from China on Jan. 31, which was part of what Ford was alluding to when she claimed Trump saved “thousands of lives.”
Fact checkers have found there is little to back up that claim on the ban — which wasn’t a complete ban — and public health experts have noted it did little to mitigate transmission once the virus began coming to the US from Europe.
Subsequent nights of the convention might feature more on the pandemic, but months of communications issues and a consistent reluctance to back a national response instead of delegating it to the states have shown Trump has little appetite to make the virus a major campaign issue. (Business Insider)