Donald Trump’s Other Bunker

Peter Nicholas in The Atlantic:

One person who’s unlikely to fall ill at Donald Trump’s Tulsa rally is Donald Trump. When jubilant supporters peel off their masks and whoop their approval as he torches Joe Biden, rest assured that the president will be a safe distance from any pathogens spat into the air. It’s the crowd that’s at the most risk. Trump’s arrival at the BOK Center on Saturday plunks him into the safest of spaces. Security measures will minimize his exposure to the coronavirus. Adoring crowds will gratify a craving for recognition. Attention paid to his first rally in three months could give his flagging campaign a needed jolt. Tulsa, then, amounts to a salve for a president who needs one.

Someone’s bound to get sick, as Trump knows. Rallies posed public-health dangers when he called them off in March, and not much has changed since. At least two members of his coronavirus task force, Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, have privately cautioned him that large crowds are a vehicle for transmitting the disease, said an administration official who, like others I talked with for this story, requested anonymity in order to speak candidly. Even Trump conceded in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that some people watching his performance might contract the virus—“a very small percentage.”

Anyone who catches the disease will have sacrificed their health for the televised illusion that Trump is in control, the virus is in retreat, and the country is back to normal, when in fact cases are hitting record highs in Oklahoma and elsewhere and millions of people are out of work. Trump’s team is expecting the 19,000-seat arena to be full, a campaign spokesperson told me, with attendees packed shoulder to shoulder. They’ll be getting temperature checks at the door, and the campaign will offer masks. But many will likely decline, taking cues from a president who refuses to wear a mask in public or acknowledge either his own vulnerability or the epic crisis that happened on his watch.

Of course, Trump has that luxury.

More here.