It’s worth mentioning, in case nobody has told him, that more than 3,700 US Covid deaths were reported Tuesday, a frightening new record that will soon be eclipsed since the country notched a record number of new hospitalizations on the same day, which was soon broken on Wednesday.
The 3,700 deaths in one day, for context, is more than half the US casualties on D-Day and more than the entire Tet Offensive in Vietnam.
Many people have pointed out the US is suffering a 9/11 every day. But the sad truth of that comparison has worn off as the Covid-19 numbers have grown more unfathomable. And while 9/11 was a single attack that changed the way Americans live, this war with coronavirus is still surging.
We know that so many more Americans will die.
The vaccine program — Operation Warp Speed — which Trump put in place, has deployed millions of doses of vaccines for the disease, but that’s falling further and further behind schedule, which means it could take years at the current rate to vaccinate enough Americans to halt the pandemic.
More than 20 million American arms were to have been vaccinated by the time 2021 began. The confirmed number was less than 3 million on Wednesday, although officials have pointed to weather events and other hiccups, but promise every day the system is ramping up.
“We know that it should be better and we’re working hard to make it better,” Operation Warp Speed head Moncef Slaoui told reporters.
CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner told CNN’s Jake Tapper the country is going to have to get creative and rethink how it pushes vaccines to hundreds of millions of Americans.
“There needs to be a sense of urgency and I don’t feel it right now,” he said.
The horrible developments barely warranted Trump’s public attention between his rounds of golf and feverish tweeting about the election loss he still denies.
He did tweet to pass responsibility for the vaccine rollout to states.
“The Federal Government has distributed the vaccines to the states. Now it is up to the states to administer. Get moving!” he said.
But that abdication of responsibility, the day after President-elect Joe Biden promised more urgency and coordination as soon as he can take office, felt pro forma.
Trump’s heart and attention are still focused on the election, for which he reserved all caps.
“JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!” he tweeted not long after Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri pledged he would back House Republicans who promise to object to counting electoral votes from swing states that Trump lost.
Hawley’s move assures more drama and a new set of votes in the House and Senate, which will be perceived by the President and his grassroots supporters as tests of fealty to Trump.
It does not matter that there is still no evidence of voter fraud to justify excluding the electoral votes of many millions of Americans.
With the House of Representatives controlled by Democrats, the objections are destined to fail, but Hawley’s imprimatur ensures there will be votes in both the House and Senate to put Republicans on the record for either sidestepping democracy, or not.
Consequential days ahead
The votes in Washington — which, hopefully, should be the final word on the 2020 Electoral College results — will occur the day after two January 5 runoff elections in Georgia, which will determine who controls the Senate in 2020.
Rather than build unified support in the state, Trump called on Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, to resign over Trump’s incorrect claims of fraud.
Kemp, exasperated during an appearance Wednesday in Georgia, implored the President to reapply his gripes about the Georgia results and focus them on Capitol Hill, where Electoral College votes will be counted during a joint session of Congress, and where Hawley and the coven of House conservatives will raise their objections.
“That horse has left the barn in Georgia and it’s headed to DC. The next vote will be there, not here.”
Trump’s allegations of fraud in Georgia are baseless.
That hasn’t stopped the President from tweeting them to his millions of followers.
Hawley, who may be eying higher office in 2024 or simply trying to avoid a primary challenge if he runs again for the Senate, didn’t actually endorse Trump’s clams of fraud, but said he thinks Congress should investigate them.
“Milions of voters concerned about election integrity deserve to be heard,” Hawley said in announcing his intent. “I will object on January 6 on their behalf.”
The problem with Hawley’s claim, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will tell you, is that states are supposed to run their own elections. McConnell tried very hard to avert votes on Trump’s fraud claims. Each state had a process, reviewable by federal courts, to hold elections and count votes. They did. The courts reviewed them. Every state certified their results. And yet here we all are.
We know the Electoral College selected Joe Biden as President, regardless of these objections. We will have to wait for him to become President another 21 days, during which time, you can be sure, there will be golfing and tweeting by the current President.
“President Trump is leaving behind the worst set of crises for his successor of any President since Herbert Hoover,” said CNN political analyst David Gergen, who wondered Wednesday if this was the worst end to a presidency ever.
To wit, there will not be additional Covid relief checks. Despite Trump’s populist pleas and support from Democrats, McConnell has made clear there’s no time for his chamber to consider any more than the $600 Trump approved Sunday.