The White House coronavirus task force held its first briefing in two months yesterday, and the whole tired affair was summed up nicely by Esquire's Charlie Pierce here:
The White House Task Force on the coronavirus pandemic re-emerged from its hyperbaric chamber and met the press again on Friday morning. If you watched the whole thing, you might have noticed that none of them were adhering to CDC guidelines, including wearing masks, and that HHS Secretary Alex Azar tried a little of the old okey-doke involving the Ebola outbreak in the Congo, and that Dr. Anthony Fauci now sounds like a man who has been hauling a barge through the Erie Canal. But all you really needed to see was the last question and the last answer.
Paula Reid of CBS asked this question of the Poser-in-Chief regarding the superspreader events in which his re-election campaign is now engaged. [...]
You could see Pence visibly reach the absolute frontier limits of his intellect in trying to craft an answer that was not admitting that Reid was absolutely right, and that also would keep Pence from offending the angry toddler for whom he works.
And in doing so, Pence once again proved himself to be every bit as dangerous to the health of the American public as his boss. Here's the full exchange, where Pence refused to answer Reid's question about the campaign being part of the problem in containing the spread of COVID-19 with these irresponsible MAGA rallies they're holding in some of the worst hot spots across the country.
PENCE: Well, I want to remind you again that freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble is in the Constitution of the U.S. And even in a health crisis, the American people don't forfeit our constitutional rights.
And, working with state officials as we did in Oklahoma and as we did in Arizona, we are creating settings where people can choose to participate in the political process, and we'll continue to do that.
I think it's really important that we recognize how important... how important freedom and personal responsibility are to this entire equation, and... but allowing younger Americans... allowing younger Americans to understand, particularly in the counties that are most impacted by the unique challenges that we are facing.
Their age group, we think is important, but, it's so important that we recognize that as we issue guidance to reopen America, now two months ago, and now as all 50 states are opening up our country again, people are going back to work, American everyday life is being restored one step, kind of one step, one day at a time, I think it's important that we remind ourselves this is not a choice between the health of the American people and a strong economy.
There found health implications to the lockdowns through which we just passed. I heard a statistic not long ago at a task force briefing that in one jurisdiction there had been a fifty percent increase in the number of people presenting in emergency rooms having attempted suicide.
I mean, there are profound to health issues. There are profound economic issues, people needing to be back to work, and so we're... our objective today here today is just to make sure the American people know in thirty four states, the cases are largely stable and there's no combination of rising cases and rising positivity rates. That's a tribute to the American people.
And in the -- in the sixteen states we're focused on today, we simply want to -- we want to equip particularly young people with the knowledge of the part that they can play in -- in stemming the rising tide of new cases, not because the coronavirus represents a significant threat to them -- in most cases, it doesn't if you're a younger American -- but because we don't -- no younger American would ever want to spread the coronavirus to someone who would have a serious outcome.
But I'm -- I'm grateful for the time today. We hope this has been helpful and we'll be back with more information as time goes on.
Or in other words, in response to Reid's question, "We can't." They're going to continue to contribute to the spread of the virus and consequences to the people attending and those unfortunate to come in contact with them afterwards be damned.
And it's not just Trump who will be holding these rallies. Pence will be making an appearance at Robert Jeffress mega-church in Dallas this weekend:
First Baptist Dallas has been planning its “Celebrate Freedom Sunday” with Vice President Mike Pence as the headliner guest for more than a year.
But with a pandemic raging and coronavirus cases surging across Texas – especially in Dallas – the church faced a question: cancel or move ahead with plans?
“We didn’t want to cancel,” said Pastor Robert Jeffress. So, the service is being held, but with efforts to “mitigate the risk of being together.”
The church will be operating at about 70% capacity, which equates to about 2,200 people inside the main sanctuary where Pence will speak.
Jeffress said the church will check worshipers’ temperatures and “strongly encourage” social distancing and masks.
Jeffress said Pence’s visit to Dallas – a coronavirus hotspot – is appropriate, even as people who live in Dallas are being urged to stay home.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, a vocal critic of the Trump administration, disagrees.
“An indoor gathering of 10 or more people really isn’t helpful. Any large gathering isn’t helpful,” Jenkins said.
He said he was invited to the Sunday morning service but will not attend.
“We’d all be better served if those who are leading the response were at their desks working their butts off instead of having political rallies, quite frankly," Jenkins said.