With Arizona increasingly leaning blue, with Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 9 points in at least one recent poll, and Democratic Senatorial candidate Mark Kelly leading Republican Martha McSally by an equal number, the president decided to break quarantine and take a trip to the Grand Canyon state as he sees his electoral chances in the state falling off the edge of the canyon and down far below into the Colorado River.
The official excuse the White House gave for Trump’s risky violation of social distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic was so the president could tour a Honeywell factory that manufactures precious N95 masks, which, like much of the personal protective equipment required by health care workers fighting a highly contagious virus, have been in short supply.
The symbolic significance of the trip — at a time when Trump is urging Americans to risk their lives by going back to work to reopen the economy and save his electoral possibilities — cannot, however, be ignored.
Trump said as much to reporters as he spoke to them before boarding Air Force One for the first time since the end of March.
“The people of our country should think of themselves as warriors,” Trump told the reporters. “Our country has to open.”
Of course, the term “warrior” can easily be translated into “cannon fodder,” with the lives of workers at stake if they are unnecessarily exposed to a virus with an extraordinarily high fatality rate compared to the common flu (despite the frequent intimations otherwise being circulated on right-wing media).
The difference is that the actual warriors in the United States’ volunteer-based armed forces know in advance what they are signing up for and are presumably (and usually only theoretically) defending national security in one way or another.
The workers being told that it is their patriotic duty to ignore the pandemic and get back to earning profits for the billionaires who lord over the American economy, for the most part never imagined that doing so would put the health — and even the lives — of themselves and anyone else they came into contact with, including their families and friends, at risk to help Trump get a second term in office.
“I’m going to pay my respects to a great company and a great state, the state of Arizona,” Trump said before his departure.
Unfortunately, Trump’s concept of respect does not include wearing a mask at a factory that not only makes the protective gear but requires that all of its workers wear them while on the premises.
Yesterday evening, before he left, the president indicated that even though he has eschewed the use of facial coverings in public to date, he might indeed don one for his factory tour.
“I think it’s a mask facility, right? If it’s a mask facility I will, yeah. I don’t know if it’s a mask facility. We’re going to see Honeywell,” Trump said.
It was a mask facility, and, as this tweet from CNN’s Jim Acosta reveals, last night’s comment was just another one of the many falsehoods that pass daily through the president’s lips.
Trump not wearing mask but goggles at Honeywell facility. Other aides not wearing masks at all. Sign in facility says “face mask required in this area.” pic.twitter.com/Uq7Fr2ioeS
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) May 5, 2020
Acosta later updated his tweet to report the official White House line that Honeywell executives told the presidential tour group that they wouldn’t be required to wear masks, in what was likely a sign of some serious executive pandering.
At least they didn’t try to pretend that they didn’t want to squander such in-demand commodities simply to keep the president safe.
WH official said they were told by Honeywell officials they didn’t need to wear masks https://t.co/aVyu0rflMW
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) May 5, 2020
Leading by example at a time when states are reopening their economies well before they meet the safety guidelines issued by the CDC regarding the number of new coronavirus cases in their regions seems to be beyond the concepts that the president can grasp.
Whether it is personal vanity, a false sense of machismo, a disregard for the safety of others, or some combination of these reasons, Trump and his retinue marched around the Honeywell facility blithely ignoring the signs informing them of the mask requirements.
Arrogance or just plain dumb-fuckery? You be the judge.
Whoever controls the music playing in the background at the factory at least managed to get in a bit of ironic mockery of the president’s current push to reopen the economy before most states have met the CDC guidelines to do so.
The soundtrack to Trump’s factory tour? The theme song to Live and Let Die.
They blasted “Live and Let Die” while Trump walked around a Honeywell plant today in Arizona without a mask. It’s hard to believe this clip is real. pic.twitter.com/M1dMe8KaMK
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 5, 2020
Original reporting by Kevin Liptak at CNN.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.