[guest post by Dana]
Because we are in the time of stupid, this:
Mike Pence does not want plexiglass barriers around him at the vice presidential debate against Kamala Harris on Wednesday, a top aide to the vice president told CNN on Tuesday, rebuffing an announcement from the Commission on Presidential debates that the dividers would be used to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“We have yet to hear medical evidence what the plexiglass is for,” Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short told CNN.
The plexiglass dividers, which were announced by the commission on Monday night, were the latest in a string of changes made to ensure the virus is not spread at the debate as the White House deals with a growing number of infections inside Donald Trump’s administration.
Physical barriers like plexiglass are typically recommended when social distancing cannot be maintained. The candidates will be separated by 12 feet on stage. Masks are considered the best defense against both droplet and aerosolized transmission of the virus.
Pence has no problem with Harris having a plexiglass shield around her if she wants. He just doesn’t want one for himself, which would help protect her:
Short said the Pence team doesn’t have a problem if Harris would like a plexiglass shield to protect her from the virus at the debate. But the Pence team believes it’s not necessary for the vice president to have plexiglass as well.
A Pence aide also told CNN that Harris and the moderators “can do whatever they want,” but the vice president’s team does not feel like they have to follow along.
So, for Pence, it’s no mask and no shield. And even though Pence attended the now notorious White House Rose Garden event, his doctors say that because he was not in close contact with any individuals who later became infected, he doesn’t need to quarantine:
Jesse Schonau, Pence’s physician, said in a memo released Tuesday that the vice president does not need to quarantine because he was not a “close contact” with anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19 as defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pence has had multiple coronavirus tests that have resulted negative.
Uh-oh: we are now learning that more people have tested positive, including Pence’s own press secretary:
Senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a source close to him.
His wife, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller, tested positive for coronavirus in May.
Look, Team Harris is just playing better politics here:
“Senator Harris will be at the debate, respecting the protections that the Cleveland Clinic has put in place to promote safety for all concerned,” said Sabrina Singh, a Harris campaign spokeswoman. “If the Trump administration’s war on masks has now become a war on safety shields, that tells you everything you need to know about why their COVID response is a failure.”
While I’m not a Harris supporter, this makes sense. The optics are good, and it shows a desire by Team Harris to keep everyone – even their opponents – safe. On the other hand, Team Pence is clearly unwilling to go the extra mile to keep everyone as safe as possible, and that is not a good look in the least – especially when Pence’s boss is currently in quarantine after having tested positive for COVID-19 and released from the hospital last night.
I understand why Trump wants to continue to downplay the virus and try to convince Americans that he has conquered COVID-19 like a boss, it nonetheless boggles the mind that he and his team don’t seem to grasp that this foolishly arrogant attitude will not draw in any new voters for Trump’s reelection. On the contrary, he risks losing even more voters because of his continuing recklessness and unconscionable behavior. If there was even a small demonstration of humility and public acknowledgment by the Trump camp that they are now willing to do everything in their power to keep their neighbors safe, they might have a chance of reaching some undecideds. Clearly, they’re not interested. Even a plexiglass shield is a bridge too far.