Melania Trump recognizes the pandemic's painful toll as her husband's convention ignores it
For two hours, President Donald Trump got his "miracle" -- the pandemic did just disappear -- in the false reality of the Republican National Convention. Then the first lady strode into her newly renovated White House Rose Garden.
Melania Trump immediately shared the kind of heartfelt empathy for victims of the worst health crisis in a century that her husband has rarely offered and which the personality pageant that is nominating him for a second term largely ignored. She offered her gratitude to first responders, nurses and doctors who have cared for Americans sickened by the virus , and attested to her husband's concern for all those afflicted by it. She also attempted to humanize the President at a time when he is facing a huge deficit with female voters.
"My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one and my prayers are with those who are ill or suffering. I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know you are not alone," she said.
The direct reference to the virus was notable since earlier speakers, if they mentioned the virus at all, portrayed it as a vanquished threat.
In the Covid-free biosphere of the Trump show, the economy roared like it did during Ronald Reagan's "morning in America," an anti-immigrant President was swearing in new citizens and pardoning a reformed criminal after a year in which he has vilified peaceful demonstrators as thugs.
Outside, in the real world, more than 1,200 Americans died from the virus on Tuesday, bringing the tragic total close to 180,000 amid new warnings that the consequent recession will be long and crushing. The pandemic, which Republicans have done their best to gloss over during the convention, has destroyed hopes of a return to classes for millions of school kids and unemployment remains above 10%.
Yet one of the President's top economic advisers Larry Kudlow spoke about the economy as if it was already in the middle of a prolonged expansion. He also implied the virus was in the rear-view mirror though new hotspots are popping up and scientist warn that a public health nightmare may loom in the fall.
"It was awful, hardship and heart break were everywhere," Kudlow said, in the latest premature White House indication that the crisis was over.
While the first lady's compassion was touching, it also fulfilled a political purpose, since she pledged that "Donald will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic."
It will now be harder for critics to say that the convention has totally ignored the pandemic and Trump's supporters may take heart from signs that the White House believes the crisis is under control.
In reality, the President's declarations about the virus -- that it would not threaten the US, that it was time to re-open businesses and gatherings early this spring and that a national testing operation was unnecessary -- were consistently wrong.