Eugene Linden
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Maddening Numbers

The way in which the media and policymakers are using the numbers on coronavirus approaches insanity. Most of the numbers published are about as credible as Trump’s estimates of the size of his inaugural crowd. Absolutely no one with any expertise believes that China has only 80,000 cases o...


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Friday August 19, 2016

This week Donald Trump did the smartest thing he has done in his feckless campaign. He apologized. Those of us appalled by the bloviating narcissist can only hope it doesn't work, but the evidence of history is that the political apology is powerful medicine. For voters previously put off by bluster and bullying, the apology upendss the relationship of candidate and voter by turning the candidate into a humble supplicant, asking the voter for forgiveness. It humanizes the candidate and gives the voter a feeling of power. It's hard to withhold forgiveness and easy to embrace those who we've forgiven -- even if we know the apology is a political ploy and the candidate doesn't mean it. And in Trump's case, I'm sure he doesn't mean it, but rather it's a Hail Mary play cooked up his clever new team of advisors.

But will it work? It worked for John Lindsay of New York in 1969, when his apology shifted the dyanmic of a race in which the Mayor was deeply unpopular after neglecting the outer boroughs in the aftermath of a blizzard. It worked for Bill Clinton twice, once as governor and then again as President. But it may not work for The Donald. For one thing, he didn't say what he was apologizing for, which is reminiscent of Ted Kennedy's apology for Chappaquiddick when he referred to his fatal negligence as "the behavior." More importantly,  as Trump says over and over, he has to be himself, and so voters are likely to forget this apology as he loudly puts out more slanders, lies, and insinuations. He'll do that because that's who he is, and at this point in his life he can't change.

So, it's a smart move and let's hope it doesn't work.


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Short Take

A Glimmer of Hope in the Coronavirus News?

I’m usually the most apocalyptic guy in the room, but, maybe, there’s a glimmer of hope in the latest news on the coronavirus. If it’s been circulating in Washington state for several weeks, it’s probably also been circulating in a few other states for weeks as well. And if there hasn’t been a big spike in visits to emergency rooms with respiratory ailments (and I have not read about such), it may well be that the virus is already widely spread in the U.S., but not hitting Americans as hard as it has populations elsewhere. If this turns out to be the case, the difference might be that there are far fewer smokers in the U.S. than in China, South Korea, Japan and Italy, and that the air is far cleaner in American cities than in China’s. 

We’ll find out in the next few weeks whether Americans are better able to withstand the disease. There remain major unknowns about coronavirus; nor do we know how hard the virus will hit the elderly and infirm. Still, this latest news could be a positive. 

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