Trump crossed a very bright line this week

Protesters rally Friday in Huntington Beach against coronavirus-related restrictions
Protesters rally Friday in Huntington Beach against coronavirus-related economic and social distancing restrictions.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is some day in whatever month it happens to be right now (Saturday, April 18, 2020 — I checked). Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

There was a time when everyone I know wanted — no, needed — Donald Trump to succeed. It was March 13, and President Trump stood in the White House Rose Garden with expert physicians and civic-minded CEOs promising to put their considerable resources at the nation’s disposal to slow the spread of COVID-19. Most important, Trump appeared confident but sober, finally made aware of how this crisis would test even the best-prepared president. It was time to rally ’round the flag.

You know how it’s gone since then, but just to recap the last week alone: Trump asserted his “total authority” to enforce normality on governors before berating them about testing, humiliated Dr. Anthony Fauci for daring to suggest the federal government could have done things a little differently, and most jaw-droppingly of all tweeted his support for armed protests in Democratic-governed states (a group in Huntington Beach seemed to have gotten the memo too) using language that might have appealed to Confederate rebels.


In this newsletter two weeks ago, I lamented that Trump wasn’t getting any better at dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, he’s all but actively undermining efforts against it.

Thankfully, governors across the nation are stepping in where federal leadership is lacking, an effort that columnist Virginia Heffernan said might rise to the mutiny that Trump claims it is, “but it has to be the most responsible and reasonable mutiny in history.” In a separate piece, Deputy Editorial Page Editor Jon Healey noted that missing from Trump’s blueprint for lifting coronavirus restrictions is an important element, one that every other country slowly reactivating its economy is pursuing aggressively: a plan to quarantine infected Americans.

Now is not the time to argue over blame. Trump, of course, is the worst offender here, assigning responsibility for his administration’s mistakes to everyone but himself. But columnist Nicholas Goldberg also tells Democrats to stop obsessing over Trump’s blunders and focus solely on what needs to be done fight the pandemic: “The cynical finger-pointing, the deflection of responsibility, the politicization of a dreadfully serious pandemic is not right, and it’s certainly not right at this moment.” L.A. Times

You can still buy strawberries in a pandemic. This is why: Essential workers like Carmelita (no surname given) and other farmers in much of California continue to pick produce, because crops don’t adjust their ripening schedules to suit a lockdown. In the Oxnard fields where Carmelita works, physical distancing is often not possible, and the pay remains sickeningly substandard. Perhaps the pandemic might prompt us to reevaluate how much our essential workers deserve to be paid. Grist

File this under “unpopular opinion”: Undocumented immigrants deserve stimulus money. Before firing off an angry email in response (and as always, feel free to email me!), understand that many people working in this country without permission do in fact pay income taxes without benefiting from the government services funded by their labor. Says the L.A. Times Editorial Board: “Conservatives and immigration hard-liners may scoff at the notion of the federal government offering cash to people living here illegally, but if one of the points of the stimulus checks is to keep some semblance of the consumer economy going during the downturn — and it is — immigration status should be irrelevant.” L.A. Times

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Put NIMBYs in quarantine so we don’t all get sick. If you’re homeless in south Orange County and have COVID-19, your options are either to sleep on a sidewalk or go to the hospital. That will not work, so officials there have proposed putting empty hotel rooms to use housing homeless coronavirus patients who do not have to be admitted to the hospital. Problem is, local NIMBYs have rallied against these plans when the hotels in question are in their neighborhoods. “This is beyond NIMBYism,” writes Carla Hall. “It’s cruelty.” L.A. Times

Elizabeth Warren told progressives what they needed to hear about Joe Biden. The November election will be about character, and Biden’s experience in public service and in his personal life will make him a far more capable, empathetic leader than Trump. “This is the point that needs to be heard by the #BernieOrBust crowd and the progressives who claim to see no difference between Trump and Biden,” writes Jon Healey. “The former vice president has his flaws … but they pale in comparison to those of our current chief executive.” L.A. Times

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