If Trump loses, it's because of his mask idiocy

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If President Trump loses reelection, it won’t be because of the breathless and conspiratorial crusade of Russiagate conspiracy theorists. It won’t be because of the fake news media or the crazy communists claiming he’s killing the planet.

It will be because when faced with a fairly fatal and highly contagious airborne respiratory disease threatening both his people and his reelection, he decided to wage war against face masks — the single most effective tool in practice to subvert cataclysmic government shutdowns before a vaccine most people won’t even want to take gets finalized for the public.

Trump has had a terrible two weeks. Yes, he recovered from COVID-19, and his high spirits enabled him to debate the relentless interruptions by Matt Lauer’s rather tired-seeming friend, Savannah Guthrie, with deftness. But Trump’s former employers at NBC had him trapped from the start. Guthrie questioned Trump on his resistance to coronavirus mitigation measures, and he still has no better excuse than “China gave us the virus,” nearly a year after the Chinese Communist Party’s malevolent incompetence allowed the infection to reach U.S. soil.

People already get it that China is to blame. That’s not an excuse for Trump’s conduct.

Imagine if Trump had embraced the idea of masks as an alternative to locking down young and healthy folks with near-zero risk of dying from the coronavirus. Imagine if the national strategy had revolved around protecting the elderly and unhealthy by practicing social distancing and strict mask-wearing.

We already had the science for that, even though the experts were saying otherwise. Back when I, absolutely not a scientist, suggested that everyone should wear masks, I only did so because we had resounding science that other medical doctors I consulted confirmed that it indicated masks would significantly prevent the transmission of the coronavirus:

Cambridge University studied the efficacy of various materials against Bacillus atrophaeus, which is about 10 times the size of the coronavirus, and bacteriophage MS2, which is around one-fifth of its size. Even against the latter, surgical masks were 90% effective, tea towels were 72% effective, and cotton T-shirts were 50% effective.

“Improvised homemade face masks may be used to help protect those who could potentially, for example, be at occupational risk from close or frequent contact with symptomatic patients,” the researchers concluded.

Back at the beginning of the shutdowns, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that our unemployment rate would persist in the double digits for the overall average of 2021. Yet, our unemployment rate has plummeted back to the level that earned Barack Obama reelection in 2012. Despite all of the foreign policy factors and domestic Democrats leading economically destructive policies, the economy has managed to come close to something considered nearly acceptable — in large part thanks to Trump’s multitrillion-dollar stimulus.

Yet, it still might not be enough. If Trump can’t even keep himself and his own staff safe from the virus, why will those “security moms” and politically untethered swing staters feel like Trump cares whether they live or die when they have the kind-hearted senility of Biden to back instead?

Trump is on pace to restore a gangbusters economy with low unemployment and disproportionate real wage gains for women and minorities. If he loses anyway, it will be because he spent half a year sparring against and mocking the very tool that could have accelerated the recovery. Trump’s visceral irritation from the early fracas of the night is evidence of that.

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