It’s time to Break It Down!
Let me begin at the end. My assessment is, this isn’t over yet!
So Mr. Trump asserted yesterday that the GOP will be “forced” to find a new state to host their convention as North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper stands by his demand that party leaders provide him with plans for a scaled down event amid coronavirus concerns. Bravo. Trump’s tough guy antics are cheered by many in his Party, and are absolutely drawing rave reviews from his hard-core supporters. Some of his most avid allies claim Trump enjoys the enthusiastic support of 97% of Republicans, a number, which they say, is a record.
I am hearing that Republicans believe Governor Cooper is a (politically) dead man walking. They contend the Governor is at best misplaying a bad hand, and at worse, outright overplaying it. They are thoroughly confident that Trump will not only be easily re-elected, but that the pending red wave will lead to reclaiming all the seats the GOP lost in the midterm elections, and, of course, that Governor Cooper is toast.
This is an interesting kerfuffle, to say the least. Not that long ago, Mr. Trump blithely deferred to Governors when it was time to make a decision on whether to develop and execute shutdown measures to blunt the spread of the coronavirus. He spoke, almost demurely, of federalism, and the role and responsibility of the Governors to figure it out for themselves. Some skeptics and cynics might conclude he was reticent to make the call, because like Pontius Pilate, he didn’t want his fingerprints to be associated with those actions. Because, of course, any downturn that might result from shuttering businesses, would have the effect of putting a damper on his self-proclaimed greatest economy ever…and subsequently complicate his bid for re-election.
Sure enough, while the virus had yet to peak in a number of states, he suddenly dispensed with the virtue of federalism, which he contended prevented him from invoking shutdowns, and proclaimed that it was time to open up, and that he personally would override any Governor who didn’t allow churches to re-open. Well, the move appeared to help him feel that he had reignited his mojo.
On Monday, the erstwhile, in control of everything, self-proclaimed law and order president made his way across Pennsylvania Ave. for a photo-op at historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had been subjected to fire damage the previous evening, during protests of the death of George Floyd. Ahead of him, law enforcement officials used smoke canisters and rubber bullets to disperse, what according to most news outlets on the scene, were peaceful protesters. It was initially reported that tear gas was employed. That was lated denied.
Tuesday, the events were reimagined, and the new narrative was that Attorney General Barr had ordered the show of force. For a guy who claims the ultimate authority, declares himself in control of everything, and who bragged about dominating, and emphasized the need to dominate ”unlawful” protesters, dominating lawful protesters, and hiding behind his AG in the wake of broad-based public pushback, is not a good look. In fact, to use Trumpian vernacular, it was weak.
But that brings us to yesterday, and his threat, or was it a bluff, to snatch the Republican National Convention (RNC) from Charlotte, and North Carolina. A number of Republicans on the ground, in and around Charlotte, claim Governor Cooper is playing politics. All I know is, when it was time to make the call on Stay-at-home orders, Mr. Trump was (again) happy to use someone else, Governors in that case, as human shields. Now, he sees an opportunity to put pressure on a Governor in a purple/swing state to submit to his “dominating” pressure. He see’s himself, as holding all the cards.
If the Governor folds, and accedes to Trump’s bluster, he has bent to the will of the omnipotent POTUS. If he resists, and adheres to actions he believes are in the best interest of the citizens of his state, and, I might add, anyone from out of state, who might be attending the Convention, he will be characterized as depriving the city and state of jobs, and the branding spotlight of hosting the convention. This latter posture will undoubtedly energize his base.
But let’s be clear. Trump is all about the glitz and glamor of the show. Between now and August, and between August and November, he’ll create dozens of political donnybrooks, and complain of countless sleights to manipulate Team Trump. And they will dutifully respond.
I have no idea what Governor Cooper will do. I have the sense he is relying upon North Carolina’s official healthcare professionals and experts to provide guidance about what to require of the RNC, in the way of an acceptable plan. I hope he will weigh all the pertinent factors and apply his best judgment.
It’s worth noting there are a lot of people in the Charlotte community who think the City should never have bid on the RNC, and who certainly believe local elected officials should not have consummated the deal. In the fog of the current nationwide unrest, stemming from Mr… Floyd’s death, amnesia abounds. It seems there is a collective forgetfulness, as a number of cities claim to be lining up to embrace the RNC, should Trump and company actually move it, that when this deal was made, Charlotte was essentially the only bidder. That was in no small part, due to the toxicity of the Party Leader, and the GOP Brand. A Leader and Brand, I might add, that have not in any discernible way, been enhanced since that time, to anyone but Trump loyalists. Perhaps, that’s all it will take for them to succeed.
I’ve been surprised before, and I could be surprised again. But, as I said at the outset, my assessment is, this isn’t over yet. “High Stakes Poker: Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em?”
I’m done; holla back!
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