It is 11 pm (Juneteenth Day, 2020) on the East Coast of the United States. I was hoping to go to bed earlier but have learned about some new developments in President Donald Trump’s administration while watching The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.
What a news week! (perhaps Trump’s worst): COVID-19 cases are rising sharply while pandemic deniers in the White House and in not a few governors’ mansions play statistical gymnastics to downplay the number of cases and deaths.
The Supreme Court (where two of Trump’s appointees sit) rules to extend employment protections for LGBTQ individuals and then to limit the government’s authority to deport immigrants protected by DACA, two major defeats for the Trump administration.
Out of magnanimity, Trump postpones his Tulsa Oklahoma political rally from Juneteenth – a day he takes credit for making “very famous” – to Saturday, June 20. Oklahoma and Tulsa are experiencing a spike in coronavirus cases.
Some of his most ardent supporters have camped outside of the arena for days, willing to sign documents releasing Trump and his party from any responsibility in case they contract the coronavirus. Social distancing will be impossible, and neither the president nor many of his supporters will wear masks, in defiance of the recommendations of Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birxt, and hundreds of health experts. The White House brags that one million supporters have acquired tickets to the event.
This picture of #Trump at Andrews after the #Tulsa disaster is unlike any we’ve ever seen. Ever the dime-store dramaturg, he’s undone his tie and put on the look of a defeated man. He thinks he’s crafting a new script as a Comeback Kid. He doesn’t realize that he really HAS lost. pic.twitter.com/GO4y3D7QIZ
— howardfineman (@howardfineman) June 21, 2020
Wait, there is more. Footage of former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s interview with Martha Raddatz has hit the TV waves. Bolton’s tell-all-book The Room Where It Happened includes a scathing criticism of Trump. In another defeat for the White House, a federal judge did not rule in favor of the administration’s petition to delay the book’s publication, scheduled for June 23.
Earlier this week, RealClear Politics published its latest poll averages report. Even more bad news for Trump: he trails behind Joe Biden nationwide (41 to 55 percent) and is losing in the key battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Arizona, all of which he carried in 2016. Trump’s response: we are winning in our own polls, especially in battleground states.
In the last quarter of her show, Maddow presents an exclusive story on the June 17 shakedown at the US Agency for Global Media, which includes the Voice of America Network. Referring to it as the Wednesday night massacre, Maddow gives a play-by-play account of what transpired at the traditionally nonpartisan agency: double Pulitzer Prize winner Amanda Bennett, head of the agency and the second in command, suddenly resign from their positions; Trump nominates Michael Pack to take over and the Senate assents; he proceeds to fire the heads of all the agency’s regional networks and their entire advisory boards.
Neither Pack nor his newly appointed network directors have backgrounds in journalism or diplomacy. His claim to fame, being a mentee of media executive Steve Bannon and producing poor quality films, as one of my friends would say, “he is a man of discreet quality.”
9:52 pm. Before the blood of the Wednesday massacre had dried up, another one unfolds. A seemingly astonished Maddow announces that she has received breaking news. After a commercial break, she reports that Attorney General William Barr has announced the resignation of Geoffrey Berman, US Attorney for the Lower District of New York. Berman, who is currently investigating Rudy Giuliani and other Trump associates, replies that he has not resigned nor intends to do so.
Saturday, June 20. Some new developments: Berman resigns, Barr says he acted on the president’s orders, and Trump contradicts Barr, saying that he had nothing to do with that.
8:30 pm. Tonight I am watching CNN, whose cameras are focusing on the empty areas of the Tulsa arena that sits 19,000. I switch to Fox News to see what they are doing. No view of the empty seats, only a closer shot of Mike Pence addressing the crowd in his characteristic bland monotone.
Trump must be fuming at the sight of a partially full arena. Size matters to him, as he made evident on the day of his inauguration in January 2017. The White House claimed that the crowds set a record. Official photographs looked like one of those comb-over images used to show quasi-miraculous hair growth.
It is 8:50 pm, and Trump is scheduled to speak in 10 minutes. The crowd is not one million, not 100,000, and not even the 19,000 that could fit in the arena. An overflow of another 50,000 was expected but never materialized.
It is 9:03 pm, and Trump is not there, that is the impression I got from watching CNN. I check out Fox again, and there he is, giving a strident speech that lasts almost two hours. Trump is at his best, or his worst, depending on who you ask.
The past two weeks have witnessed a turning point in the US and Trump’s reelection campaign. Some of his old allies, including armed forces generals, have openly criticized him. Evangelicals were not pleased with his upside-down Bible photo op. The highest-ranking African American in the White House resigns.
Biden’s poll numbers are the highest they have ever been. Mitch McConnell and his Republican colleagues, silent as a tomb.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.