Like a landlord trying to get potential renters to sign the lease before they notice the spreading mildew stain in the ceiling, Donald Trump is hoping to bamboozle Americans into reopening the schools, likely hoping that the coronavirus incubation period will delay a drastic explosion in cases until after Election Day. Despite fawning headlines late last month congratulating Trump for his supposedly "somber" tone and an alleged "shift" to taking the pandemic seriously, our president has returned to his standard operating procedure, which is trying to sell the public on flat-out lies about the coronavirus in much the same way he bamboozled investors into backing his craptastic real estate properties.
This article was originally published at Salon
The good news, however, is that this probably isn't working and may even backfire, as the public is simply not interested in the medical opinions of a man who went on live television in April and suggested that since household disinfectants kill coronavirus on countertops, doctors should consider "something like that by injection inside" the lungs of human beings.
"My view is the schools should open. This thing's going away. It will go away like things go away," Trump told the credulous crew at "Fox & Friends" on Wednesday morning.
Trump failed to explain the mechanics of how he imagines this working — perhaps by Lysol injections? — nor did any of the so-called "journalists" on Fox News press him on the particulars.
And it's no wonder, as it's likely that Trump got this wild bit of misinformation from Fox News host Sean Hannity, who got his M.D. from the University of Wishful Thinking. Hannity speculated on Glenn Beck's show on Tuesday that "I think we're over this, you know, sometime in the fall, my guess" and that he feels "pretty certain, very optimistic, about that."
Possibly even more disturbing was Trump's whopper about the role children play in spreading the virus, claiming that kids are "almost immune" to the disease. He trotted out his conspiracy theory claiming the only reason not to open schools is "to hurt the election for the Republicans."
All of this is false, of course. Children aren't immune or even "almost" immune. The CDC has documented nearly a quarter million cases of American children developing COVID-19. It's true that children typically have less serious symptoms than adults, especially older adults, the evidence is quickly piling up that kids can serve as virus vectors who can easily spread the disease to parents, teachers, grandparents and other adults. At one summer camp in Georgia, for instance, one counselor was sent home with COVID-19 and, within a week, about half of the campers and counselors tested positive.
But the Trump campaign loves this wildly irresponsible lie so much that they cut an ad of Trump spouting it, which was promptly spread on social media through campaign feeds as well as the personal feeds of Trump and his eldest son, Donald Jr. Twitter and Facebook both reacted swiftly to this violation of their rules against misinformation about the coronavirus, with Facebook removing the ad and Twitter penalizing both the Trump campaign and Don Jr. by temporarily blocking their ability to post.
No one should rush to congratulate the social media giants for their bravery, however. At this point, most Americans view Trump as a highly suspect source on the coronavirus. In fact, Trump is likely only damaging his dwindling re-election chances by continuing to run his mouth, keeping up a steady stream of nonsense that only serves to remind voters what a lying boob he is.
Polling data backs this up. A poll released this week from NBC News shows that only 31% of Americans trust Trump to give them good information on the coronavirus. This is in line with a Quinnipiac poll from last month showing that only 30% of Americans trust Trump's information.
Frankly, there's good reason to be skeptical that the numbers are even that high, and to suspect that 30% is just Trump voters saying they trust him on everything, rather than admitting that, deep down inside, they know he's lying about the virus. Certainly, the fact that Trump keeps scheduling and then canceling campaign events after the failed event in Tulsa in June suggests that his campaign officials realize his supporters are more wary about the dangers of the virus than polling data is showing.
Trump keeps yammering on about opening schools because he's got it lodged into his head that this is a way to relaunch the economy and also to win back some of the suburban women — a group he condescendingly addresses as "Suburban Housewives of America" — who have overwhelmingly rejected him in recent polls.
Trump's "strategy," if you can call it that, is based not on any real data. It's based on his sexist assumptions that suburban women are a bunch of dumb bunnies who are focused solely on getting those rascally kids out of their hair for a few hours so they can do the vacuuming in peace — in their pearls and heels, of course.
In reality, the people Trump is trying to win over with this push to reopen schools are incredibly skeptical about what President Bleach-Injector has to say on the subject of medical science and the risks of viral transmission.
According to the Quinnipiac data, which has a thorough breakdown of demographic information about poll respondents, suburban voters are slightly more likely than the average voter to think that Trump's information on coronavirus is bad, with 69% of these voters saying they don't find him trustworthy on the pandemic.
Regardless of where they live, people age 35-49, who are the most likely to be parents of school-age children, are incredibly skeptical of what Trump says about the coronavirus, with 72% of those voters saying he's untrustworthy. Unsurprisingly, women were even more likely than men to believe our president is full of it.
When asked about how they feel about Trump's push to reopen schools, parents of children under the age of 18 disapproved of Trump's views on the subject by a margin of two to one.
No doubt Trump, like a lot of rich white men his age, has spent his whole life having women smile at him indulgently and pretend to listen, and has mistaken that for women actually believing his lies, rather than patiently enduring their socially-assigned role of placating clueless males and soothing their fragile egos. But mothers of school-age children aren't being paid to push their breasts up and giggle at Trump during a golf tournament, and are under no obligation to pretend that the man who suggesting injected household cleansers should be treated as a trusted authority when it comes to the health of their families.
If Trump were smart, he would STFU about the coronavirus and let people who actually know things do the talking. But Trump has never met a problem he didn't think couldn't be solved by applying even more Trump, so he's bound to keep running his mouth and reminding voters that he's not just an ignorant, pigheaded jerk, but a jerk who will eagerly sacrifice the health of their families if he thinks he could gain some advantage from doing so. You can fool a whole bunch of people a whole bunch of the time — but it turns out that the task gets harder when the subject is the threat from a deadly disease.