When it comes to COVID-19, Republicans don’t need no stinkin’ science. They invent their own

With few participants wearing masks during COVID-19 and minimal spacing in the Rose Garden of the White House, Judge Amy Coney Barrett delivers remarks after President Donald J. Trump announced her as his nominee for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

POTUS tested positive for COVID-19, but pretended he could beat it into submission with a show of maskless machismo and spluttering non sequiturs.

FLOTUS tested positive too, and is taking time off from her private war on Christmas to quarantine in the East Wing while a leaked FEMA memo says nearly three dozen Trump staffers, congressional fellow travelers, and some of the regular people who polish the door knobs and serve the cheeseburgers also may have tested positive.

Even Stephen Miller, senior adviser for Keeping Brown People Out of the Country, caught the ‘rona and is reportedly self-isolating inside a coffin-like box furnished with a bit of soil from his native Transylvania.

You’d think the White House would holler at the CDC to start some contract tracing on the people at the Amy Coney Barrett U.S. Supreme Court nomination fête who sat three inches from each other not wearing masks, all of whom then went out in the world to share their dubious droplets with their bartenders, their waitresses, their lawyers, their spouses, and their children.

But Republicans don’t need no stinkin’ science.

The regime refuses to accept that epidemiologists and immunologists know a tad more about medicine than the guy who suggested injecting disinfectant — interestingly enough, the same guy who claimed wind turbines cause cancer and may have paid another kid to take his SATs.

Trump’s  tame doctor, Sean Conley, refuses to tell the country the date of Trump’s last negative test, obfuscating and spinning and flattering in a manner reminiscent of the giggly Dr. Harold Bronstein, whose 2015 letter assuring voters that his longtime patient “Mr. Donald J. Trump” had “astonishingly excellent” blood pressure and would definitely be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

Of course, it turned out that Trump dictated that letter himself.

Conley and the medical personnel at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, some of whom signed non-disclosure agreements in 2019, aided and abetted Trump’s turning a deadly disease into a reality TV episode in which Trump leaves the presidential ward, bounds up the White House stairs striking what he imagines a triumphant I-beat-the-COVID pose, preens for the cameras, salutes the lawn, and rips off his face mask the way James Bond used to whip off an ingenue’s bikini top.

But medical experts who neither enjoy presidential patronage nor fear presidential tantrums point out that Trump was noticeably out of breath, coughing and wheezing his way through an interview with Sean Hannity, exhibiting the excessive grandiosity (even by Trumpian standards) characteristic of a person on strong steroids.

(Meanwhile, in a Saturday memo, Conley said the president was “no longer considered a transmission risk to others,” according to the New York Times.)


The president is certainly clueless: a sick, fat, deranged old man who can’t even walk two holes of a golf course, but he “believes” the virus was a “blessing from God,” a somewhat eccentric way to describe a disease that has killed more than 214,000 Americans.

The thing is, viruses don’t care what you “believe;” empirical evidence doesn’t care how you “feel;” it’s science, not Santa Claus.

Trump’s My Little Governor doll (we know him as Ron DeSantis) apes his master in refusing to listen to experts.

Instead, he works himself into a lather trying to demonstrate that he, too, embraces ignorance like a long-lost lover.

State workers have been ordered to go back to their offices with few safety protocols in place: no masks, no distancing mandates, little disinfecting of spaces, even though some agencies have been contaminated.

DeSantis doesn’t even pretend he gives a damn, giddily declaring that Florida’s public schools stay open, never mind that there have been more than 6,000 COVID-19 cases related to Florida’s K-12 schools, colleges, and universities from September 6 through October 3.

He says schools should never have been closed in the first place — even though he’s the one who closed them — and has taken to calling anyone objecting to a full reopening “the flat-earthers of our day.”

This is some awe-inspiring gall, coming from a guy whose party is still pretending that climate change is no biggie.

Did you catch the sitting vice president in that festival of mansplaining and interruptions the campaigns called a “debate” as he refused to acknowledge that human beings are to blame for the rise in ocean temperatures that cause fiercer hurricanes, bleating that he and Trump “listen to the scientists”?

Which scientists, the ones on staff at the National Enquirer?

If these dim bulbs listened to the scientists at NOAA or the CDC or the NIH, California might not be burning, Miami drowning, and half the White House stricken with coronavirus.

But that’s not how Trumpists roll: They invent their own “science.”

According to DeSantis, kids don’t get COVID-19 or, if they get it, they don’t really spread it or, if they infect others, it’s not often or not too bad.

However, the CDC (those eggheads have no sense of humor!) says asymptomatic children carrying the virus can be dangerous to teachers, coaches, lunch ladies, janitors — everyone they come into contact with at school.

Who do these degreed-up white coat-wearers think they are? It’s not like they’re job creators or large donors to the RNC.

They probably don’t even admit that Noah had dinosaurs on the Ark or that the original Garden of Eden was actually located just outside Bristol, Fla.

Illusion of normal

DeSantis, like Trump, wants us to feel good, feel normal, and stop worrying about sunny-day flooding, toxic algae, police brutality, a collapsing health care system, poverty, and sky-high unemployment.

When people notice that nothing is normal and everything is, in fact, screwed up, they’re not likely to re-elect the feckless morons who landed us in this fix in the first place.

That’s why DeSantis is hitting “Phase 3″ hard: Restaurants can now operate at full capacity and football stadiums can now pack ’em in, pro and college, tens of thousands of drunk people hollering, maskless, in close quarters, then lurching around the watering holes of Miami, Gainesville, Tampa, and Tallahassee.

Genius move, huh?

Hell, what do we expect in a state where the Commissioner of Education says that no one should ever read The New York Times or The Washington Post, what with them Enemy of the People big-city librul journalists reporting on the governor’s mendacious insistence that everything is fine, schools are doing well, the water is clean, and the election will go smoothly.

Trump, DeSantis, and the rest of the white boys clinging desperately to an America that never was want us distracted by bread and circuses — football and shopping — lest we see the lies and vote accordingly.

Diane Roberts
Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.