As COVID-19 Spreads, Can Biden Borrow Some of Cuomo’s BDE?
On this episode of democracy-ish Touré and Danielle are live on IG and speaking truth to the powerful arbiters of “alternative facts.”
Trump’s daily briefings have become infomercials for donors like the uber-conservative founder of MyPillow. Nevertheless, Yamiche Alcindor persists.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is modeling what crisis leadership should look like –– fueled by abundant BDE.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden seems unwilling to criticize Trump too harshly. Isn’t he supposed to “beat him like a drum”?
It’s the first of April. As confirmed cases of COVID-19 surge past 1 million, rent is due and 10 million Americans are newly unemployed. But “we are stuck with the worst possible leader for this moment,” says Touré.
While refrigerated trucks line up outside hospitals in cities around the country because the morgues are full, Donald Trump touts his TV ratings and enlists MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell to heap him with praise.
“The proximity of death is coming closer and closer to my life and to all of our lives,” Touré says. “And this president goes up to the microphone and talks about companies, about tax breaks. He never talks about a family that is dealing with death ... He doesn't care about people.”
“I deeply feel your frustration,” says Danielle. “I deeply feel your anger. I go through a series of emotional waves on a regular basis. My therapist tells me that that's normal.”
She’s been abstaining from the administration’s daily press conferences in the name of self-care.
“Kudos to you and the rest of America,” Danielle explains. “But I don't need a fucking infomercial. If I wanted that, I would turn on QVC. If I wanted to buy a fucking Mr. Pillow, then maybe I would go to Bed Bath and Beyond in the ‘As Seen on TV’ fucking aisle, but I sure as hell don't want him to be the person talking to me about what is going on with the coronavirus.”
Enough with the reality show antics.
“I know why no one ever asked me to be a White House reporter. My tolerance for bullshit is probably at a negative 150,000 at this point. I would just raise my hand and be like, why are you such an asshole?”
It’s the eternal question.
Episode Highlights –– Where’s the BDE?
A beacon of hope in the White House briefing room
“As much as I would love to see DM in the White House briefing room, ripping the president in a new one,” Touré says, “I deeply respect and admire the dignity and the restraint that Yamiche Alcindor has shown in the briefings.”
Alcindor, a PBS White House correspondent and NBC contributor, is a model of professionalism and persistence despite Trump’s repeated attempts to embarrass her on national television.
“She will not be deterred by the personal attacks and insults,” adds Touré. “It's not an ego gesture for her … it takes a lot of gumption and guts and self-belief to continue pressing forward.”
Danielle agrees: “look, he ain't embarrassing anybody but his fucking self. Let's just be clear about that. Because Yamiche is asking the questions that more reporters should ask him.
“You're supposed to be commander in chief of the greatest military in America? A black woman who knows her worth and is intelligent, asking you a question, is somehow threatening? Go fuck yourself.”
The abortion red herring
The White House briefing room feels more like a circus tent every day, due to the Trump administration’s penchant for giving press credentials to “right-wing nutjob organizations,” Touré notes.
“He knows who's in the room. So he knows that if he's getting a hard time from Peter Alexander … he can point to someone from OANN.”
Touré says his “jaw dropped” when OANN’s Chanel Rion countered the COVID-19 death toll with statistics on abortion. Then she asked Trump if he thinks more states should suspend “elective abortions.”
It’s red meat for Trump’s base –– particularly evangelicals who think a woman’s right to choose “is worse than anything,” he adds. “It makes them feel like they are right and liberalism is completely wrong.”
The “intellectual dishonesty” of her question stood out in a briefing that was ostensibly meant to give us vital information on the pandemic.
“Is abortion contagious?” asks Danielle. “I didn't realize that.”
What’s more, abortion has “nothing to do with the fears that the American people have about being able to leave their homes … and wiping down our groceries with Clorox bleach,” Danielle says. “I don't give a fuck about a woman –– who has a right to have an abortion –– doing so.”
As ratings go (up), so goes the polling
Meanwhile, Trump’s approval ratings seem to be rising despite the daily shit show. So Touré asked several political scientists to help us understand.
There’s been a “vast increase” in Trump’s time in front of the cameras, he says. Plus, “a lot of people are feeling the anxiety of what's coming, but haven’t yet felt the pain.”
Many Americans get their news from local TV and newspapers –– “so they're not getting the full portrait” of the crisis, Touré explains. While the virus sweeps through urban centers in mostly blue states, red states haven’t been hit too hard –– yet.
“I don't wish it on them, but it seems inevitable,” says Touré, who thinks Trump’s approval rating will catch up with him soon. One political scientist pointed out that widespread home quarantining creates a “completely different electorate” when it comes to the types of voters who pick up pollsters’ calls.
Danielle asked our friend of the show (and a previous interim host) Christina Greer to weigh in. Christina says that in “the first stages of shock … Americans rally around their leader,” Danielle reports. But as more of our citizens lose their livelihoods –– and sadly, their lives –– the next poll might not be so kind to Trump.
In red states, an alternate, fake news COVID-19 reality
It seems that many people in red states aren’t even taking the pandemic seriously, Touré says. And it’s not just because coronavirus hasn’t arrived on their doorstep –– via their local newspaper or otherwise. It’s because Trump is lying to them, and Fox News is doubling down on its idiocy.
“I watched Fox for a few minutes yesterday, and the conversation was this sort of pearl-clutching –– can you believe they want us to wear masks? That's crazy, and they're letting all the criminals out of prison,” says Touré. “It doesn't really suggest we're having a serious problem.”
In a month or two, if COVID-19 explodes in red states, conservatives will learn they’ve been lied to, Touré adds.
“I hope that they have the sense to blame the person who's actually responsible.”
Spoiler alert: it’s unlikely.
Joe, where’s your pandemic response mojo?
Trump's approval rating isn’t showing up in head-to-head matchup polls that put Biden in the lead. But Biden seems conspicuously absent from the pandemic conversation. And when he is, he’s not “rhetorically punching Trump in the face,” says Touré –– which would be appropriate given our current circumstances.
“Do you think there is blood on the president’s hands considering the slow response?” Chuck Todd asked Biden on last Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”
Todd added: “Or is that too harsh of a criticism?”
Biden responded that he felt it was, indeed, “a little too harsh.”
Danielle’s reaction? “I don't know why Joe Biden found it so difficult to say that.”
Big Cuomo energy
Danielle craves a leader who can bring some “Andrew Cuomo-type energy,” she says. “I need somebody who's gonna stare into the barrel of a camera and tell it like it is.”
Although she’s terrified about living in New York — the current epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S. — she finds comfort knowing that “there is a grown-up at the wheel ... somebody that is doing everything and anything that they can to get the job done, who’s straightforward with the American people every single day.”
A friend of Danielle’s characterized Cuomo as having BDE. “It’s what Biden does not have,” she says. “Every day is a missed opportunity for him to show us that he's a fighter.”
Touré concurs. Cuomo “knows how to bicker with Trump without getting into the mud … Cuomo deeply embodies the tone of understanding the pain and the difficulty of the moment … but the stuff that politicians do at the mic is truly secondary to what they do in a back room when they have to make a deal, to get some legislation … to negotiate … you know that Cuomo is crushing it in the back room.”
Touré has quite a few female friends who are smitten with the governor, he says. “Yeah, that's my boyfriend.”
It's not just women, Danielle notes. “I've seen many a meme talk about being “Cuomosexual.”
Trump: child-like — but not a child
Another week has gone by, and “America continues falling apart,” says Touré. “I feel like we are all grounded because one kid fucked up –– like, when you're a kid and one person in the class screwed up, so everybody has to go to detention.”
Danielle is not having this analogy.
“Touré, I'm going to ask you to stop calling this grown-ass, 70-something white man a fucking child. Because if I have to hear people talk about the prolonged adolescence of white folks, I will lose my fucking mind ... this is what white supremacy does ... I'm not going to pretend he doesn't have the emotional and mental capacity of a fucking adult. Let's not infantilize him.”
Touré says that to fully understand Trump, “we have to admit he is like a child,” even though it doesn’t excuse his behavior.
Danielle remains firm: “If Tamir Rice can be seen as a fucking adult, if Trayvon Martin can be seen as an adult, if Black babies are seen as adults as soon as they begin to toddle out of their mother's arms, I do not want to infantilize old white fucking evil men.”
Speaking of evil white men, notorious slumlord Jared Kushner joined the White House’s pandemic task force, so ...
“I don't know what next week's show will even be like …. We blink and it's another thousand [dead] each day,” says Toure.
Danielle is confident that we’ll keep “doing our best to battle from our bunkers.
“We'll be here with y'all. That's all we can say.”
Get your weekly rundown of the presidential election from a Black progressive point of view on democracy-ish. Consider Danielle Moodie and Touré as your tour guides, flight attendants and/or therapists as we move through this dumpster fire of an election cycle—together! #dcppolitics