Supreme Court Chuckles

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Dr. Malcolm Cross

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer recently made ugly threats against Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Bret Kavanaugh as the Court was hearing an abortion rights case.  What prompted him to do so?  And are there other, more constructive means of opposing Supreme Court decisions?  

“I want to tell you Gorsuch, I want to tell you Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”  So said Chuck Schumer at a recent abortion rights rally held near the Supreme Court building.

Republicans have been having a field day criticizing Schumer.  Some are even contemplating his censure.  And even some of his fellow Democrats, as well as their usual allies in the media, are saying Schumer went too far.  They note that President Trump has made plenty of boneheaded remarks about federal judges and Supreme Court justices himself, the most latest of which has been his demand that Justices Ginsberg and Sotomayor recuse themselves from any cases involving him.  But they also note that Trump is well within his legal rights to seek recusal (which is rather different from actually achieving what he wants), and that his remarks, however ill-advised, contain no threats.

Schumer also denies his remarks were threatening, but his words obviously belie his denial.  And his chief of staff has compounded Schumer’s dishonesty  with his own attack on Chief Justice John Roberts.  Responding to Schumer, Roberts said, “Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All members of the court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.” Schumer’s chief of staff said, “For Justice Roberts to follow the right wing’s deliberate misinterpretation of what Senator Schumer said, while remaining silent when President Trump attacked Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg last week, shows Roberts does not just call balls and strikes.”  But as one of President Trump’s fiercest critics notes, “Roberts has spoken out against Trump’s demeaning of the judiciary. In November 2018, after Trump criticized an ‘Obama judge’ who had ruled against Trump’s administration, Roberts responded that there are no ‘Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges’ but, instead, ‘an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.’   You can check out this article in its entirety here:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/05/george-conway-schumer-oped/.

So why did Schumer say what he said?

Part of the explanation may be his frustration, and that of Democrats in general, with President Trump’s success in reshaping the federal judiciary to make it more conservative.  Trump has not only appointed Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, but he’s also appointed numerous appellate and trial court judges as well, most of whom will be around long after Trump heads into the sunset.

Also, Schumer’s outburst may reflect the growing intolerance within the Democratic Party for any view other than that abortion should be made available any time, at any stage of pregnancy, on demand and without apology.  Bill Clinton used to say that abortion should be “safe, legal, and  rare (emphasis added)”, and Schumer himself said, only a few years ago, that his party should be open to electing  anti-abortion Democrats to the Senate.  But those days when Democrats thought abortion should be “rare” and that there was room for abortion opponents in the Democratic Party are long gone.

 Besides, it’s possible that AOC may challenge Schumer for his Senate seat in New York’s 2022 Democratic primary.  If so, Schumer may well believe that a sharp lurch to the left on abortion may minimize her chances of ousting him.

But part of the explanation may have nothing to do with Schumer or the Democratic Party at all, yet everything to do with the power we have allowed the Supreme Court to assume in the political system.

Throughout its history, and especially in recent memory, the Supreme Court has, through its rulings, had a profound impact on public policy development in America:  Racial desegregation, the alleged discovery of abortion rights, and the legalization of same-sex marriage have all owed more to Supreme Court decisions than to legislative action.  Moreover, by ruling on these issues, the Supreme Court has effectively reduced the possibility that they can be refined by the efforts of democratically elected legislatures.

Yet history shows that the public and its representatives in government will not acquiesce in Supreme Court pronouncements that seek to end debate on controversial issues.  Rather, effort that could have been spent on discussion, deliberation, and the search for consensus and compromise on important issues is directed at trying to effect the processes by which Supreme Court justices are selected, as well as to influence judges and justices once they run the gamut and take their seats.  Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as senators, filibustered.  Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell blocked an Obama appointment to the court.  Senate Democrats practiced the crudest forms of character assassination against Clarence Thomas and Bret Kavanaugh, while continuing to raise the con tenuous possibility of impeaching them.  Schumer’s threats are merely another tactic in an ongoing campaign by both Republicans and Democrats alike to shape the Court and its decisions.

Actually, the Framers of the Constitution provided a remedy for those who dislike the work of the Supreme Court—Amend the Constitution itself.  The main way they prescribed, requiring the support of two-thirds of each house of Congress and three-fourths of the states to add amendments to the Constitution, is cumbersome, and offers no guarantee of success.  But trying to amend the Constitution would at least promote healthy debates in legislatures throughout the country.  Surely debates among the people and in their legislatures would be far more constructive than the parliamentary chicanery, character assassinations, presidential inanities, and Chuck Schumer’s naked thuggery.


Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

8 Comments

  1. Supreme court chuckles…. some headline. And now, other democrats/liberals have trashed them also…some party leaders. Shumer, Pelosi, Nadler, Schiff, The squad and so on and so bad.

  2. LOL.. Jiminy Cricket,! That bunch men on the “Ivy League’s” Supreme Court are wearing so many Corporate patches on their robes they look like NASCAR drivers interviewed after winning. They are deceitful.

    Conservatives views? What is conservative about Republicans? When John McCain ran for President he and his wife had 8 houses. And then Mitt Romney ran for President he and his wife had 5 houses.Conservatives who also proud in the devotion to religion have some of the worst Carbon Footprints of the Earth’s population. These horrible pollution records show just how well they heed the call for stewardship of the “God created the heaven’s and the EARTH”.

    I’m German-American as is Donald Trump. I am not his type or nature. I vote democratic because their record shows they have more for women and children than the others. Here is a better view of what Conservatives really are.

    Tyranni naturally seek power and wealth. Large institutions have power and power leads to wealth. It is usually beyond the ability of a single tyrannus to gain control of a large institution. He must have al-lies. Recognizing this fact, tyranni are prone to form groups in pursuit of power and wealth. They work together to dominate those who do not belong to their alliance, while they intrigue against each other as each seeks to become the ultimate ruler, the supreme tyrannus. Such groups of power-seeking tyranni are factions, and they have been common-place throughout world history. Once they gain power, once they con-trol a large institution—from state legislatures to Wall Street banks to national governments—they push their power as far as it can take them—even if it leads to the destruction of themselves and the institutions they control.

    The most powerful institutions are national governments, and they take on many forms. They are called monarchical, fascist, communist, socialist, democratic, republican, etc. I suppose that such classifications are important, but the most important category is omitted from the discussion. Governments are either tyranno or democrato. They should be measured by how they treat their people. Those that serve the common good are democrato and those that do not are tyranno. For example, several tyranno-governments have plagued us in our history. The monarchies were Great Britain under King George III, and the Empire of Japan. Nazi Germany was socialist. The Italian government of Benito Mussolini was fascist. The U.S.S.R. under Josef Stalin was a collection of socialist republics, and it was called communist as well. The Chinese government under Mao Zedong was called a republic and communist. The government of North Korea, I suppose, has its own specific identifying term, but I don’t know what it is, and I really don’t care. I only care that all of these governments treated their people badly. They were controlled by factions and they worked constantly to widen and increase their power over others. This tendency is natural for tyranni. But as they pushed and pushed their power, these nations finally met resistance and they had to obey a natural law, the law of evolution by natural selection—they had to adapt or die. (from a book written by a Baylor graduate)

    You are pushing a national agenda that you don’t know and never knew the far reaching plan for their end game. Those in Trump’s camp many aren’t aware and if it succeeds they will be eliminated. What is happening in Trump’s hoodlum administration will not succeed.

    And fact is the first Commander in Chief and President told the People they “can change their form of government anytime they want to”. He only spoke once of record at the Constitutional Convention when he said, “One representative for every 30,000 people.”

    The Constitution is being tossed out Air Force One’s window and that’s why the most sacred of American documents and that is the Declaration of Independence is where the enlisted mans ultimate sacrifice is at home there.
    The Supreme Court substitutes the elaborately rationalized personal preferences of nine human beings for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, usually delivering political, economic, and religious support for friends, party, and class. It is the ultimate political tool for thwarting the will of the people. It is an essential element of Tyranno-America.

    Where you may find yourself is in the “process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer known as an algorithm”.

    What it is to me is the separation of us from the World War II parents and began when investing for community was demolished by computer programming and day trading became the order of the day.

  3. One of the top Milk Producing Counties in Texas and the Southwest as trucks run to Houston and San Antonio around the clock so we have an extended area of concern. Pandemics or one thing and epidemics are another but this is a matter unlike investigation for the truth and the capitalistic money system of the tip of the Iceberg down but rather from the bottom of the iceberg up.

  4. https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-cov19-trump-alex-jones-hannity-limbaugh-falwell-conspiracy-theories-2020-3

    Trump’s most die-hard media supporters are proving that owning the libs is more important to them than the lives of their fellow Americans during the coronavirus pandemic
    Anthony L. Fisher Mar 14, 2020, 9:37 AM

    Opinion
    To all of Donald Trump’s most hardcore media supporters, the novel coronavirus pandemic is not the final step in a grand conspiracy against you or your dear leader.

    You are spreading misinformation to an enormous audience, misinformation that could put lives in danger.

    Feel free to “own the libs” all you want over the Democrats’ failure to remove Trump from office, or “no collusion,” or “SJW campus snowflakes.”

    But please, if you call yourself a patriot, do the decent thing and stop being so selfish that you put your fellow Americans’ lives at risk. Some things are more important than your hustle.

    This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

    Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

    To all of Donald Trump’s most hardcore media supporters,

    The novel coronavirus pandemic is not the final step in a grand conspiracy against you or your dear leader, as several conservative commentators have asserted.

    You do not possess hidden, secret truths buried by the “deep state,” as a popular internet talk show host has claimed.

    And by digging in on your fantastical conspiracy theories despite all available evidence, you are proving definitively that you are not patriots.

    You are willfully spreading misinformation to an enormous audience, misinformation that could put their health in danger or put the health of those around them in danger.

    Some of you, like the disgraced InfoWars’ disgraced impresario Alex Jones, are attempting to directly profit off of such misinformation about COVID-19.

    Specifically, Mr. Jones, you have been selling products to your fanbase with the false promise that they make one “immune” to coronavirus. Thankfully, New York Attorney General Letitia James has ordered you to stop this disgraceful grift, but she can’t stop you from filling your fans’ heads with poisonous ideas. That’s your responsibility.

    What makes your act so disgraceful is that you’ve already admitted, under oath during divorce proceedings, that your bluster and deception is indeed an act.

    The decent thing to do would be to admit that what you do is designed to be entertainment, and that no one should take a word Alex Jones says seriously.

    You’ve had your fun, Always Trumpers, but the joke’s just not funny anymore
    Ever since he became president, Trump has made you — his biggest and loudest fans — feel both empowered and completely convinced that you’re besieged by a “mainstream” that hates America and “real Americans,” a title to which you imagine yourself to own the exclusive rights.

    You rage on cable TV, YouTube, and Twitter, and your public profiles have been enhanced. Trump’s “victim/bully” dichotomy has been your model.

    But at what point does your sense of human decency outweigh your incentive to rile up your paying customers by “triggering the libs”?

    Here’s a question for you, Jerry Falwell, Jr.

    Including online students, there are approximately 110,000 people enrolled at Liberty University — the evangelical college founded by your father, of which you are president.

    Being a man of faith, how do you justify going on the president’s favorite cable TV morning show and propagating baseless speculation that the coronavirus is both an over-hyped non-event fabricated by “the media” — but also potentially a bioterror weapon manufactured by North Korea?

    Sure, the president sees you’re his loyal servant, but is Trump the being to whom you’re most responsible?

    And as for you, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, you’re right-wing media weathervanes. You’ll adopt the values of whichever conservative is in the White House and memory-hole your vociferous support of past “failed” Republican presidents, their military quagmires, and their economic policies.

    But unlike the online huckster trying to scrape by on bogus health supplements,, you are both extraordinarily rich men and in no danger of losing your bully pulpits.

    For you, Mr. Limbaugh, to tell your audience of more than 15 million that the coronavirus is merely “the common cold” and say it’s been “weaponized” to take down Trump is beyond mere partisan hackery. It’s simply despicable.

    And you, Mr. Hannity, with your Fox News nightly show and your daily syndicated radio show, have an even bigger audience than Limbaugh. That’s why it’s the height of cynicism for you to say “it may be true” that the coronavirus is a “fraud” being used by the “deep state” to “manipulate economies, suppress dissent, and push mandated medicines.”

    It’s one thing to act like a cultist for Trump. But what you’re doing now is literally dangerous.

    Spike the ball over the Democrats’ failure to remove Trump from office.

    Luxuriate in the fact that Robert Mueller’s report did not find evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

    Mock the “SJW campus snowflakes” that you fear will end Western civilization.

    But please, if you call yourself a patriot, do the decent thing and stop being so selfish that you put your fellow Americans’ lives at risk.

    Some things are more important than your hustle.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Read more:
    Trump’s inability to clearly communicate is making the government’s coronavirus pandemic response seem like chaos

    Photos at the White House show Trump meeting with actors in a play about the ‘deep state’ amid the coronavirus outbreak

    Current and former Trump officials say CPAC failed to offer useful coronavirus updates, leaving them confused and angry about their level of exposure

    CPAC 2020 was all about worshiping Trump, hating socialism, and feeling victimized by media and the left

    This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s).

  5. Jerry Falwell Jr. just unmasked conservatism — and we should seriously thank him for it

    Written by John Stoehr, The Editorial Board March 15, 2020
    I suppose we owe Jerry Falwell Jr. a debt of gratitude. I’m serious.

    Falwell is the son of the late Jerry Falwell, the man most responsible for bringing fundamentalist Christianity out of the political wilderness during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Junior, along with Franklin Graham, himself a scion of a religious dynasty, is perhaps the president’s greatest champion among white evangelical Christians.

    He appeared on “Fox & Friends” yesterday. Among other things, he accused Donald Trump’s enemies, including the press, of hyping COVID-19, the new strain of the coronavirus spreading around the world, panicking global markets and closing down entertainment and cultural events here and elsewhere. He, like Tom Cotton, the fascist senator from Arkansas, believes the disease outbreak can be blamed on totalitarian regimes in the east. For Cotton, that’s China. For Falwell, that’s North Korea. (While Falwell was on air, the president announced a state of national emergency related to the outbreak, undermining his and Cotton’s search for a scapegoat for his sake.)

    Falwell’s demagoguery isn’t what we should be thankful for. What we should be thankful for is his confessing, without appearing to know it, that a pillar of “principled conservatism” in the United States is no pillar at all. Not in practice. Once you see that this pillar rests on a bed of sand, rather than constitutional bedrock, you start seeing other “conservative principles” do, too. “States’ rights,” “gun rights,” “the right to life” and even “religious freedom” are nearly always about something other than what they seem to be. Falwell and his ideological confederates can’t be honest about it, though. If they were, they’d lose. Dishonesty, fraudulence and bad faith are central to their aims.

    What would Jesus do? Not that.

    Here’s some context, courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor (my italics):

    “As in many states, residents in parts of rural, conservative Virginia say they seem to inhabit an increasingly different daily reality than that of urban and suburban districts. That feeling of separation was compounded by last November’s Democratic sweep of the state’s elected offices. Now residents in Frederick County are mulling a radical proposal: seceding from Virginia and joining neighboring West Virginia.”

    Apparently Falwell is part of the effort. He’s the head of something called “Vaxit,” according to Fox & Friends. Whether that’s a real organization I have no idea, but that’s not what I’m most interested in. I’m most interested in expressing gratitude to the good reverend for admitting that “states’ rights” have nothing to do with conservatism.

    Think about it.

    If the principle of “states’ rights” meant what conservatives have said it meant to them, not one of them, not Jerry Falwell Jr. nor anyone calling him or herself a “principled conservative,” would dare suggest that a county secede from a state. If states are sovereign, as conservatives have alleged since Strom Thurmond ran as a Dixiecrat in 1948, calling for a county to secede from a state is traitorous. If “states’ rights” are as sacred as conservatives have said they are, the idea of secession is an abomination.

    In saying counties should leave the state as casually as ordering unsweet tea with his burger and fries, the Rev. Falwell told us without knowing he was telling us that conservatism in theory is authoritarianism in practice. It cannot and will not tolerate democratic change, despite change coming with the blessing of the majority. If the majority rules, Falwell and his confederates will abandon commitments to democracy.

    Once you abandon democracy—once you open the door to treason—there’s no end in sight. Once it seceded, “the Confederacy began to deny states’ rights,” wrote James W. Loewen in Lies My Teacher Told Me. “Jefferson Davis denounced states’ rights as destructive to the Confederacy. The mountainous counties in western Virginia bolted to the Union. Confederate troops had to occupy east Tennessee to keep it from emulating West Virginia. Winn Parish, Louisiana, refused to secede from the Union. Winston County, Alabama, declared itself the Free State of Winston. Unionist farmers and woodsmen in Jones County, Mississippi, declared the Free State of Jones.”

    By February 1864, Davis despaired: “Public meetings of treasonable character, in the name of state sovereignty, are being held.” Thus states’ rights as an ideology was contradictory and could not mobilize the white South for the long haul.

    What mobilized the white South was the defense of slavery. Falwell and his new breed of confederate aren’t doing that, of course, but the spirit of treason, if not the act of treason, is the same. Conservatives tell us they prefer slow and gradual change, and stand united against radical attempts to bring it swiftly. But that’s not their true face. Conservatism in practice is a radical ideology reserving the right to betray its stated principles, and to betray community and brotherhood, if it doesn’t get what it wants.

    Thanks to Jerry Falwell Jr., that’s now easy to see.

  6. Thank you FOX Cable for protecting your viewers…

    https://www.alternet.org/2020/03/former-rnc-head-reveals-why-fox-news-is-suddenly-taking-the-coronavirus-pandemic-seriously/?utm_source=push_notifications

    Former RNC head reveals why Fox News is suddenly taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously

    Written by Tom Boggioni / Raw Story March 16, 2020
    During an MSNBC panel discussion on the changing tone at Fox News now that coronavirus health crisis has been declared a pandemic, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee suggested that executives at the conservative network may have come to a hard realization.

    After “AM Joy” host Joy Reid shared multiple clips of Fox News personalities once mocking the panic the health crisis was creating, only to change their tune as more reports of those infected started breaking, MSNBC contributor Michael Steele said there was a solid reason.

    “Based on your experience with dealing with Fox News and what it can bring about, is it possible for Fox News to now turn this ship around and convince these same viewers, many of whom are older people, vulnerable people, that they need to be careful and take precautions?” host Reid asked.

    ‘”I think so,” Steele replied. “And I think that you will see that because the reality of it is now that the president has pretty much acknowledged, ‘Okay, yeah, this is a problem, and we’re going to put the government at work, let’s do that,’ as we saw from both his press conferences.”

    ‘Institutions like Fox and other organs out there that have, as you showed an earlier clip, were like, ‘Oh, this is just Democrats being crazy Democrats,’ now realize that they are looking at their numbers and seeing that, ‘Oh, wait a minute, our audience is being impacted. The people that we’re speaking to are actually being him impacted.,’” he continued. “And it may be touching closer to home for their own families and relationships. So I think that you will see that pivot but it won’t be as abrupt a pivot.”

  7. https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2020/03/trumps-attempts-play-down-coronavirus-amount-dangerous-disinformation-campaign/163710/?oref=d-river?oref=d1-related-article

    BY MCKAY COPPINS
    THE ATLANTIC
    READ BIO
    MARCH 11, 2020

    5 days ago..

    Fact-checkers and scientists have scrambled to correct the president’s false and misleading statements, which are being amplified by partisan media, digital propagandists, and administration officials.

    From the moment the coronavirus reached the United States, President Donald Trump has seemed determined to construct an alternate reality around the outbreak. In the information universe he has formed, COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, is no worse than the seasonal flu; criticism of his response to it is a “hoax”; and media coverage of the virus is part of a political conspiracy to destroy his presidency.

    As with so much of the president’s messaging, this narrative began with tossed-off tweets and impromptu public statements. But in recent days, as U.S. health officials have raised growing concerns about the outbreak, Trump’s efforts to play down the pandemic have been amplified by the same multi-platform propaganda apparatus he’s relying on for reelection in November. From the White House communications office to the MAGA meme warriors of Instagram, from the prime-time partisans on Fox News to the Trump campaign’s Facebook feed, the overarching message has been the same: Pay no attention to the fake-news fearmongering about the coronavirus. It’s all political hype. Things are going great.

    Fact-checkers and scientists have scrambled to correct the misinformation coming out of the White House. (No, the virus has not been “contained” in America; no, testing is not available to anybody who wants it; no, people shouldn’t go to work if they’re sick.) But Trump’s message seems to have resonated with his base: A Quinnipiac University poll released this week found that just 35 percent of Republicans are concerned about the virus, compared with 68 percent of Democrats.

    The administration’s response to the outbreak has drawn some comparisons to that of the autocratic regimes in China and Iran, where information about the virus was tightly controlled to the detriment of the local populations. But what Trump has actually shown is that he doesn’t need to silence the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or censor the press to undermine politically inconvenient information about a public-health crisis—he can simply use his presidential bullhorn to drown it out.

    Scholars who study modern disinformation tactics have identified this approach as “censorship through noise.” (Steve Bannon, the former White House strategist, has described the strategy in blunter terms: “Flood the zone with shit.”) As I reported in my recent feature on the Trump campaign, the purpose of this sort of propaganda blizzard is not to inspire conviction in a certain set of facts; it’s to bombard people with so many contradictory claims, conspiracy theories, what-abouts, and distortions that they simply throw up their hands in confusion and exhaustion.

    Spend some time wading through the coronavirus content that’s spreading through the MAGA ecosystem, and it’s easy to see the strategy at work.

    Trump supporters have been warned incessantly not to trust mainstream journalistic coverage of the issue. When the market tanked earlier this week, the president blamed it on “fake news.” When White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham appeared on Fox & Friends, she condemned the media for using the virus “as a tool to politicize things and to scare people.”

    Meanwhile, Trump’s right-wing media allies are working to minimize the perceived dangers of the coronavirus. “Put it in perspective,” Sean Hannity told his Fox News audience this week. “Twenty-six people were shot in Chicago alone over the weekend. I doubt you heard about it. You notice there’s no widespread hysteria about violence in Chicago. And this has now gone on for years and years and years. By the way, Democratic-run cities, we see a lot of that.” The sentiment was echoed by Tomi Lahren, another Fox News host, who invoked California’s homelessness problem to deflect attention from the outbreak: “Call me crazy, but I am far more concerned with stepping on a used heroin needle than I am getting the coronavirus, but maybe that’s just me.”

    A key strain of the president’s narrative is that concerns about the coronavirus are being weaponized by bad-faith actors—a notion that has spawned a broad range of conspiracy theories. On Fox Business, Trish Regan accused Trump’s enemies of trying to “create mass hysteria to encourage a market sell-off” that would harm his reelection prospects: “This is impeachment all over again,” she declared. Rush Limbaugh has mused that the president is the target of “virus terrorism.” And on Facebook and Twitter, a meme has begun circulating among Trump fans that darkly suggests a new disease is introduced every election year to influence politics.

    Pro-Trump social-media stars have ridiculed people who are afraid of the coronavirus, casting them as ridiculous, or perhaps unmasculine. (“Stop being a baby and go to the gym,” one well-known troll recently wrote beneath a selfie emphasizing his biceps. “Obesity is the real pandemic.”) At the same time, many Republicans are seizing on the outbreak to build support for restrictionist immigration policies and a trade war with China. “We need the Wall more than ever!” Trump tweeted this week.

    To the president and his allies, it doesn’t really matter that all these narrative threads don’t perfectly cohere. Muddying the waters is the name of the game, and it’s a strategy that’s carried Trump through numerous political battles over the years.

    But sowing strategic doubt about the facts of a global pandemic is fundamentally different from doing it with, say, an impeachment hearing. The dangers are more tangible and immediate to voters, regardless of whether they support Trump. The stakes are higher. And in a crass, political sense, the long-term effectiveness of the effort is limited. Hundreds of new coronavirus cases are being confirmed every day in the U.S. Public events are being canceled, schools are shutting down, containment zones are being implemented by governors. As daily life is disrupted for more and more Americans, Trump’s alternate reality is bound to implode.

    Some on the right seem to understand this. Prominent conservative writers such as Ross Douthat and Michael Brendan Dougherty have been covering the outbreak with a sense of urgency. This week, National Review published an editorial criticizing the president’s lackluster response to the virus. Perhaps most notably, Tucker Carlson broke with his prime-time Fox News colleagues this week with a withering monologue that seemed to address Trump without ever saying his name.

    “In a crisis, it’s more important than ever to be calm,” Carlson said. “But staying calm is not the same as remaining complacent. It does not mean assuring people that everything will be fine. We don’t know that. Instead, it’s better to tell the truth. That is always the surest sign of strength.”

    Will Trump, who has taken cues from Carlson’s show in the past, get the message—or will it be drowned out by the din of the noise machine he helped create?

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