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Trump’s Magical Thinking Runs Into Reality, Again

Donald Trump finally cancels the Republican National Convention that was never going to happen anyway.
July 24, 2020
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(GettyImages)

President Trump is making history again. Not the kind of monumental, glorified achievements he envisions, though. This time he’s become the first president in modern history to foul up not one, but two of his own conventions. In the same summer.

That’s gotta be a record.

You may recall that beginning last spring the Democrats approached the idea of holding their convention quite cautiously. First they delayed it and then, almost immediately, they began planning to make it virtual because of concerns about the wisdom of holding a mass gathering in an enclosed space during a pandemic.

Trump and MAGA world mocked this cautious approach.

You may also recall that in early June, Trump pulled the Republican convention out of North Carolina because the governor would not guarantee that the event could be held at full capacity because of the need for social distancing in the midst of a pandemic.

Trump did not like this. Not one bit. He told North Carolina Governor Rory Cooper, “Since the day I came down the escalator, I’ve never had an empty seat and I find the biggest stadiums. I don’t want to be sitting in a place that’s 50 percent empty.” (Insert Sad Trombone gif.)

And you may finally recall that Trump then took his convention to Jacksonville, where his Mini-Me, Ron DeSantis, promised that the state would “showcase [its] energy, facilities, entrepreneurship and commitment to bring together the delegates of the Republican Party at a historic time in our nation’s history.”

I mean, really, who could have possibly known that packing thousands of people indoors, not just in an arena, but in restaurants, hotels, and taxis was never going to work? Our Great President may understand the science behind the coronavirus better than anyone, but he’s not a fortune teller. Stop being so unfair.

Anyway, if this all feels like deja vu, then you’re probably thinking about this moment:

That was on March 24. Here is how ridiculous that statement was:

The country was never going to “re-open” by Easter any more than someone was going to host a massive political convention this summer.

But this is what Trump does. He and his enablers in the media used the ridiculous Easter Miracle prediction as a cudgel to beat on people who were trying to take public health seriously and stop the spread of the virus. Right up until the moment that reality positively forced them to concede that they were being fatuous.

And that’s what Trump and his enablers did with the conventions, too. “They are having what they call a virtual convention and I call a webinar,” Duval County GOP chairman Dean Black said exactly one month ago. “It will be Joe Biden in his basement conducting a webinar.”

Well, look who is testing their Wi-Fi connection now.

There’s one more similarity, of course. Because when Trump and his people construct their alternate realities, it’s other people who always end up footing the bill. With the coronavirus, we’re closing in on 145,000 Americans who paid for Trump’s magical thinking with their lives. In regards to the two aborted conventions, thankfully, the price has been less steep: Just the planning costs and debts incurred by local municipalities and businesses to hold events that everyone knew—or should have known—were never going to happen.

Welcome to the basement.

Amanda Carpenter

Bulwark political columnist Amanda Carpenter is a CNN contributor, author, and former communications director to Sen. Ted Cruz and speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint.