Part of the problem with the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic is its record of passivity, neglect, and indifference. But it's important to acknowledge the flip-side of the coin: the president and his political operation have also been accused of taking deliberate steps to make the crisis worse through Donald Trump's super-spreader campaign rallies.
Earlier this week, for example, several COVID-19 outbreaks in Minnesota were linked to the Republican incumbent's political events. This came on the heels of a USA Today report, published late last week, which noted, "As President Donald Trump jetted across the country holding campaign rallies during the past two months, he didn't just defy state orders and federal health guidelines. He left a trail of coronavirus outbreaks in his wake."
And yet, the events continue, and there's no reason to think Team Trump will show any restraint in the election season's final week. With this in mind, Vice President Mike Pence is headed to Wisconsin, which is struggling badly with an escalating coronavirus crisis, despite the fact that many members of his own team recently tested positive.
CNN's Alisyn Camerota this morning asked Hogan Gidley, the Trump campaign's national press secretary, if the existing dynamic gives the campaign any pause ahead of the scheduled political rally. He replied:
"No, it doesn't. The vice president has the best doctors in the world around him, they've obviously contact-traced and have come to the conclusion it's fine for him to be out on the campaign trail. The American people have the right under the First Amendment to peaceably assemble, too."
And at that point, Gidley changed the subject, pointing to what he sees as signs of "good news" regarding the pandemic.
It was hard not to marvel at his perspective. On the one hand, Pence has excellent physicians, and on the other, regular people -- who do not have the best doctors in the world around them -- have the right to attend a rally during a pandemic. Ergo, as far as Team Trump is concerned, there's no reason to show restraint when scheduling campaign events.
It's a recipe for more infections, which should obviously be seen as preventable. The president's political operation is likely aware of this, but the rallies will continue.