Not Much Of A Party

Being the Tin Foil Hat Wearing Resident Conspiracy Theorist I propose that instead of mere incompetence this shows a serious fear of another fizzle like Tulsa or Portsmouth where they were so afraid of the preliminary numbers they canceled for a Storm so fierce I could see the shadow of my Maine Weatherstick (if it’s wet, it’s rainy).

How the Republican National Convention came undone
By Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, and Annie Linskey, Washington Post
July 24, 2020

For months, President Trump insisted on packed crowds at his nominating convention.

“Since the day I came down the escalator, I’ve never had an empty seat and I find the biggest stadiums,” he told North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) in a phone call on May 29, according to two people familiar with the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share its contents. “We can’t do social distancing.”

But behind the scenes, advisers were scrambling to plan a massive multi-day event amid a pandemic. They asked the federal government to provide protective equipment, lined up labs to test thousands of attendees each day, and shifted from an indoor arena in Charlotte to one in Jacksonville, Fla., and then again to a covered practice field used by an NFL franchise nearby.

But ultimately, the rising coronavirus caseload — and the political cost of forcing risky behavior on thousands just months before the election — proved too great. Advisers convinced Trump that canceling the convention could help him politically as he tries to pay closer attention to the coronavirus, show that he cares about the health of Americans and improve his sagging poll numbers.

The chaotic unraveling bears many of the hallmarks of the tumultuous Trump presidency: the public dismissal of scientific expertise, Trumpian allegations of political conspiracy and advisers run ragged to carry out a task that was next to impossible from the start.

No rallies, no Death Star: Trump’s campaign is disintegrating before our eyes
by Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon
July 18, 2020

If you want to know exactly how well Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is faring as we count down the final three months before Election Day, all you have to do is Google “list of rallies for the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign” and compare it with what you’ve seen lately.

Now that was a presidential campaign! Not dozens of rallies, hundreds of rallies! Trump held 187 rallies during the Republican primaries, between June 15, 2015, and June 3, 2016. He held rallies in Costa Mesa, California; Warwick, Rhode Island; Vienna, Ohio; Evansville, Indiana; Warren, Michigan; Bethpage, New York; and dozens and dozens of other cities and towns.

In the same few weeks covered by the schedule on the Clinton for President website I looked at, Trump appeared in Connecticut, New York, Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, West Virginia, California and Oregon.

Trump’s campaign after he won the Republican nomination was just as busy. He appeared in 129 rallies between June 10 and Nov. 7 of 2016. He was all over the place: fairgrounds, convention centers, Las Vegas casino hotels, airports, sports stadiums, concert venues, even an equestrian center in Jacksonville, and a maritime park amphitheater in Pensacola, day after day, rally after rally, sometimes two in different cities on the same day.

Meanwhile, in some office park in San Antonio, Texas, a political unknown by the name of Brad Parscale was gearing up to run a virtual campaign on social media, raising money and running ads on Google, Twitter, and Facebook to a targeted audience, largely using the names of people who had signed up for tickets to Trump’s rallies during the primary and general election.

You know the result of Trump’s 300-plus rallies in 2015 and 2016, supplemented by Parscale’s expert manipulation of Facebook and Twitter with some Russian hacking and social media mischief thrown in. He won.

And he planned to win again in 2020 by following the same playbook: dozens, perhaps as many as a hundred rallies, complimented by a brand new Parscale digital operation he labeled the “Death Star” in a May tweet.

So how’s the Death Star firing, Brad my boy?

Parscale was removed as campaign chairman this week, replaced by a former Chris Christie factotum named Bill Stepien, one of whose career highlights was being named in the infamous “Bridgegate” scandal involving the closure of several lanes of the George Washington Bridge in 2013. Stepien saw duty as “field director” during Trump’s 2016 campaign, and the way things are going now, directing traffic is about all that’s left for him to do in 2020.

As for those rallies? Well, Trump appeared at a grand total of 10 rallies back in January and February before the coronavirus took hold of the White House and began to strangle its grand plans. Last month, a rally was held in deep-red Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was intended to kick off the Trump 2020 general election campaign. You know how wonderfully that turned out. After bragging on social media about a million tickets that had been sold for the Tulsa arena (which held only 19,000), Trump was able to “fill” the arena with just over 6,000 of his most loyal base voters. An “overflow” rally outside the arena was canceled when nobody showed up.

A few days later, Trump held another rally at the Dream City megachurch in Phoenix, attended by an audience of about 3,000 students.

Few attendees at either rally wore protective masks, despite a local ordinance requiring them in Arizona. There was an outbreak of coronavirus in Tulsa following the rally there, and the Republican governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, who attended the rally, tested positive for the virus this week. On Wednesday, Oklahoma saw its largest one-day increase in coronavirus cases, rising by 1,075, nearly a 5 percent increase in the state’s total number of cases.

The Republican National Committee announced plans for a scaled back convention next month in Jacksonville, complete with social distancing and masks. Most convention events will be restricted to about 2,500 delegates. On the final day, Aug. 27, when Trump gives his acceptance speech, alternate delegates and guests will bring the total allowed inside the arena to about 7,000. The Trump campaign has been scrambling for new venues to hold rallies where they won’t have to worry about the kind of depressed turnout they got in Tulsa. As of this weekend, no new rallies had been scheduled.

We haven’t even gotten into Trump’s cratering poll numbers. He is down by double digits nationally, down by double digits in most battleground states, and even down in double digits among his own Republican base when it comes to his performance in handling the coronavirus. And then there are the worst numbers of all: almost 140,000 dead, with the CDC estimating 170,000 by Aug. 8. A record 77,000 people were diagnosed with the virus on Thursday, and 926 died. The numbers keep going up almost every day.

There are only 15 weeks left before Election Day on Nov. 3, and a lot can happen in American politics in 15 weeks. We learned that in spades in 2016, didn’t we? But Trump isn’t just running against Joe Biden. He’s running against a virus that doesn’t belong to a political party, doesn’t watch Fox News, and doesn’t care how many times the president of the United States tries to wish it away. The virus has a big vote this year, and so far, it’s voting against Trump. It’s one of the tragedies of our political system that so many people have to die for one incompetent, corrupt man to lose the presidential election.