Tällainen hyttyskesä on luvassa: Suomi jakautuu kahtia – yksi asia on satavarma

Runsaslumisen talven ja lämpimän alkukesän myötä Pohjois-Suomen hyttyskesästä voi tulla runsaslukuinen. Etelä-Suomessa ollaan jäämässä normaalista hyttysmääristä.
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The Tiger King. | Netflix On this episode of Land of the Giants: How does Netflix’s famous algorithm work? And how does Netflix use it? Did you watch Tiger King during the quarantine? A lot of us did. Netflix’s true-crime documentary about tiger breeders battling it out with animal rights activists was released in late March. Within a month, some 64 million people had watched at least some of the series. This was during the same time that millions of people were stuck at home for lockdown and decided to subscribe to Netflix. But did all of those Netflix users watch Tiger King because they wanted to or because their friends told them to? Or was it because Netflix told them to via its vaunted recommendation algorithm? That’s the question we explore on the latest episode of Land of the Giants: The Netflix Effect. And more broadly, we wanted to get a better understanding of how Netflix uses the vast trove of data it collects about its viewers’ habits. At this point, most of us know that big tech companies often surveil their users and then use the information they gather to decide what their users are likely to see or engage with. The downside of that can be obvious: Just ask Facebook’s and Google’s many critics. The stakes seem lower for Netflix. For instance, to date, no one has accused the company of subverting democracy in the US. And Netflix says it doesn’t hoover up nearly as much of your data as other big tech companies because it’s not in the ad business and doesn’t need that level of information. But Netflix does take very detailed notes about the way its 200 million users behave when they watch Netflix. It says it uses that data to help figure out what you might want to watch — and to figure out the best way to present that choice to you. Even if Netflix thinks you and your friend both want to watch, say, Floor Is Lava, it may show each of you different images or clips from the show based on what it knows about your viewing habits. But our big question is whether Netflix has a bias about who owns the stuff it shows you. It’s an increasingly relevant question as media companies that used to license their stuff to Netflix claw that content back so they can power their own competing streaming services. Which is why Friends has left Netflix for HBO Max, and The Office is going to Comcast’s Peacock, and why most of Disney’s TV shows and movies have moved to Disney+. So it would seem obvious that Netflix would want to promote shows it makes and owns, like Tiger King and Floor Is Lava, because it can keep those shows, as opposed to ones that will eventually leave for another streamer. Which is why we asked Netflix executives and people outside of the company if that’s actually happening. You can hear their answers on the player below, or on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts. Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.
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Ottessa Moshfegh’s Strange and Riveting Female Narrators
Jake Belcher“I’ve disguised the ugly truth in a kind of spiffy noir package,” Ottessa Moshfegh said about her debut novel, Eileen, published in 2015. Convinced that readers wouldn’t pick up a novel about a self-loathing woman with little desire to please others, she masked her “freak book” as a mystery. To Moshfegh’s frustration, readers still fixated on the grossness of Eileen—a laxative-addicted clerk at a juvenile prison who has vivid, violent thoughts—so she funneled similarly off-putting traits into the narrator of her second novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, but gave her the looks of an off-duty model. (“Try to tell me she’s disgusting!” she told one interviewer.) In her latest novel, Death in Her Hands, Moshfegh is back to her old formal tricks. This time, she uses a meta-mystery-gone-mad to explore a question that applies to her own oeuvre: How much control can women have over their narratives?The opening of Death in Her Hands gestures as much toward fable as to mystery. Vesta Gul is a 72-year-old widow who lives in a secluded former Girl Scout cabin in the woods with a muscular dog, her “alarm and bodyguard.” One day, while on a dawn walk, she stumbles upon a note that reads: “Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.” The notepaper is suspiciously pristine, the penmanship impersonal—the kind “you’d use when making a sign for a yard sale,” Vesta observes. More puzzling, there is no body, or any sign of there ever having been a body, and Vesta has never met a Magda in her tiny town. The story that ensues—told from the unsympathetic, utterly unreliable first-person perspective of Vesta—is Vesta’s attempt to solve the mystery, or, rather, the mystery of whether there is even a mystery to solve.Penguin PressThe New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino once described Ottessa Moshfegh as the “most interesting contemporary American writer on the subject of being alive when being alive feels terrible.” In light of her latest novel, Moshfegh might also be viewed as an unflinching chronicler of the wild things women are pushed to do in the face of emptiness. Vesta—who has no phone, internet, or friends—seizes upon the note as a welcome disruption of her routinized, isolated existence. She’s seen her fair share of Agatha Christie films, but pursues sleuthing methods that are as absurd as her predicament with comical conviction. At the local library, she types “Is Magda dead?” into Ask Jeeves, and when that returns nothing of use, clicks on a page of “TOP TIPS FOR MYSTERY WRITERS!”Inspired, Vesta begins trying to solve the mystery by writing it, inventing an elaborate backstory for Magda and conjuring a cast of fictional suspects. The further she delves into her imagination, the more conspiratorial Vesta’s thinking becomes. A random poem in the library is a clue left just for her, she is sure; people she encounters in town are suspects from her list (a list that she forgets is pure fiction). Before long, Moshfegh’s meta-narrative becomes unhinged.Yet a more serious thread emerges from the farce. Caught up in her fantasizing, Vesta sees elements of her past anew. Fond recollections of her late husband, a respected scientist named Walter, give way to darker ones, and we learn in intrusive spurts how he had overshadowed her thoughts and feelings for decades. He “nipped my moods in the bud the moment a twinge of anything untoward showed on my face,” she recalls, and he forbade her from using contraceptive pills because “they sapped a woman’s integrity.” A year after his death, Walter continues to inhabit Vesta’s mind “like a nosy adversary,” appearing in daydreams to berate and judge her. Trapped inside Vesta’s claustrophobic brain, we become detectives ourselves, trying to sort out what happened in her past, what is happening in her present, and what is some warped invention inspired by her traumatic marriage.[Read: Ottessa Moshfegh on finding meaning in going nowhere]Vesta’s darkly comedic methods of finding meaning recall those of the unnamed narrator of My Year of Rest and Relaxation—with a key twist. Vesta escapes into her imagination as a way out of solitude. By contrast, the 24-year-old who escapes into unconsciousness in the earlier novel is looking for a way to disconnect from the world. A Columbia graduate and “effortless beauty” enmeshed in a Manhattan art scene filled with “canned counterculture crap,” she’s convinced that her privileged existence has been pointless. Her solution is to “sleep [her]self into a new life” by self-medicating for a year. She finds a psychiatrist in the yellow pages to write her scripts. (Dr. Tuttle dispenses medical guidance such as “Try visiting a church or synagogue to ask for advice on inner peace” and “Dial 9-1-1 if anything bad happens.”) Then she starts combining prescription drugs with the verve of a chef improvising a recipe.The idea of authorship as a means of control is central to both books. Vesta writes a mystery to bring motive and arc to her own existence. The narrator of My Year of Rest and Relaxation opts for self-erasure in her effort to be reborn “a whole new person.” Meaning and momentum are scrubbed away in this tale whose teller is only semiconscious much of the time; after mixing pills, she wakes at random intervals to find her hair chopped off, her furniture rearranged, or herself on the Long Island Rail Road, and doesn’t typically care enough to figure out how she wound up there. She gives us little backstory to contextualize her emptiness—mentioning her “dead parents” only when explaining why she has money, or while asking her psychiatrist for more meds. For the grand finale of her drug-induced hibernation, she tries to sleep for all but 40 hours in four months—a willed act of will-lessness that becomes a dangerous kind of performance art.“The deep sleep I would soon enter required a completely blank canvas if I was to emerge from it fully renewed,” she says—and she recruits a pretentious young artist named Ping Xi to be her sleep “warden.” She gives him carte blanche to use her blacked-out body for his own work, so long as he leaves no trace of his presence in her home. (“There was to be no narrative that I could follow, no pieces for me to put together.”) When she finally awakens, she claims success: “There was majesty and grace in the pace of the swaying branches of the willows. … My sleep had worked.”That we doubt her abrupt discovery of grandeur in the world seems to be Moshfegh’s intention: Even her drug-addled narrator, though she takes to rising with the sun and feeding squirrels in the park, doesn’t seem fully bought in. Her rhapsodizing is hollow and rote, like a parody of the self-help literature on opting out of our connected, capitalist world. Moshfegh is merciless when it comes to the vacuousness and self-seriousness of the art world, but making art is still the only path to redemption her narrator can see. It’s a profoundly grim punch line that art—though it briefly gives her a sense of hope—doesn’t save her from the void.The epiphanies of Death in Her Hands are similarly double-edged, at once ridiculous and existentially charged. As Vesta attempts to solve the mystery, it’s not the “cozy whodunit” that unravels, but her own sanity—and the reader realizes that Vesta’s fate, not Magda’s, is at stake. Paranoid that someone is after her, Vesta scrounges among the crudest of genre-fiction tricks in what seems to be an attempt to assert control over her own story: She dons a midnight-black camouflage onesie and sets up booby traps in her home, like she’d “seen done once on a television show.” Vesta succeeds in engineering the sense of momentum she has long craved, but no plot device can grant her the agency she seeks—a problem not unlike the one the novel itself faces. In this pulpier companion to her previous book, Moshfegh strikes an uncanny balance between absurdity and urgency that makes for propulsive reading, all the while making a mockery of serious suspense.For Moshfegh, who has said she started writing Death in Her Hands five years ago “to get [herself] onto the other side of an experience” of deep grief, crafting this meta-fictional mystery was purposeful work. Alone and adrift in San Francisco, she forced herself to write 1,000 words a day “until [she] reached the conclusion of something,” she recently told The New York Times. The result feels less ingeniously and cruelly playful than her fiction has been in the past. Still, Moshfegh’s gift for staring down darkness—for finding spiffy packages for awfulness—is rare and unexpectedly riveting. If art can’t reclaim maimed pasts, erase pointless ones, or promise better futures, a writer who keeps us listening to her alienated female narrators, intrigued by their fates, has managed a feat.
Canada’s “national shame”: Covid-19 in nursing homes
On the lawn of the Camilla Care Community in Ontario, Canada, 50 crosses mark the 50 nursing home residents who died there due to a Covid-19 outbreak. | Toronto Star/Getty Images Nursing homes account for 81 percent of Covid-19 deaths in the country. How did this happen? Canada’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has generally been viewed as a success, with experts pointing to its political leadership and universal health care system as factors. But there has been one glaring failure in Canada’s fight against the pandemic: its inability to protect the health of its senior citizens in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The situation for these seniors is so dire that the police — and even the military — have been called in to investigate why so many are dying. In Quebec, some residents have been left for days in soiled diapers, going hungry and thirsty, and 31 residents were found dead at one home in less than a month, leading to accusations of gross negligence. In Ontario, the military found shocking conditions in five homes: cockroaches and rotten food, blatant disregard for infection control measures, and treatment of residents that was deemed “borderline abusive, if not abusive.” “It’s a national shame,” said Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Toronto’s Sinai Health System. “I don’t think we’ve done a good job at all in Canada.” A whopping 81 percent of the country’scoronavirus deaths are linked to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.That means roughly 7,050 out of 8,700 deaths to date have been among residents and workers in these facilities. In terms of raw numbers, that may not seem like very much. (For comparison, more than 40,000 US coronavirus deaths have been linked to nursing homes.) And, to be clear, Canada is hardly alone in watching tragedy unfold in these facilities. The US and Europe have seen startling numbers of fatalities among nursing home staffers and residents. But 81 percent is a staggering statistic, especially for Canada, a country that prides itself on its progressive health policies. And it’s higher than the rate in any other country for which we have good data. In European countries, roughly 50 percent of coronavirus deaths are linked to these facilities. In the US, it’s 40 percent. Experts say a number of factors are probably involved in Canada’s collapse on the nursing home front, like the fact that Canada has done well at controlling community spread outside these facilities (making nursing home deaths account for a greater share of overall deaths) and that residents in Canadian homes tend to be older and frailer than those in US homes (and thus more vulnerable to severe cases of Covid-19). But they say the high death rate in the homes is due, in large part, to egregious problems with the homes themselves. “I think we have serious issues with long-term care,” said Vivian Stamatopoulos, a professor at Ontario Tech University who specializes in family caregiving. Experts have been warning political leaders about this for years, but,she said, “they’ve all been playing the game of pass the long-term care hot potato.” Furious over how their elders are being treated, some Canadians have started petitions, protests, lawsuits, and even hunger strikes outside the homes. They say the government’s failure to respond reveals a deeper failure to care about seniors and people with disabilities, and to make that care concrete by sending facilities what they urgently need: more tests, more personal protective equipment (PPE), and more funding to pay staff members so they don’t have to work multiple jobs at different facilities. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has acknowledged that the situation in the facilities is “deeply disturbing.” He’s sent hundreds of military troops to help feed and care for the seniors in certain homes, where burnout and fear have prompted some staff members to flee their charges. But to some extent, Trudeau’s hands are tied because the facilities fall under provincial jurisdiction. That leaves families terrified for their loved ones. They’re asking: Why have things gone so terribly wrong? How could this happen in Canada? Canada’s crisis was a long time in the making The first thing to understand is that Canada’s universal health care system does not cover nursing homes and long-term care facilities. That means these institutions are not insured by the federal system. Different provinces offer different levels of cost coverage, and even within a given province, you’ll find that some homes are publicly run, others are run by nonprofits, and still others are run by for-profit entities. “This is the main problem — they don’t fall under the Canada Health Act,” said Stamatopoulos, adding that the same is not true of hospitals. “That’s why you see that the hospitals did so well. They had the resources.” From the standpoint of someone in the US, where more than 132,000 people have died of Covid-19, Canada may seem to be doing well overall: The death toll there is around 8,700. Per capita, Canada’s coronavirus death rate is roughly half that of America’s. It’s clear that the northern neighbor has been doing better at keeping case numbers down, partly because it’s giving safer advice on easing social distancing. Which makes the dire situation in nursing homes stand out even more. Longstanding problems with Canada’s nursing homes have clearly fueled the tragic situation unfolding there. These homes are chronically understaffed. They tend to hire part-time workers, underpay them, and not offer them sick leave benefits. That means the workers have to take multiple jobs at different facilities, potentially spreading the virus between them. Many are immigrants or asylum seekers, and they fear putting their precarious employment at risk by, say, taking a sick day when they need it. (These problems aren’t unique to Canada, but as in other countries, they’ve been thrown into stark relief by the pandemic.) A lot of Canadian homes also have poor infrastructure, built to the outdated design standards of the 1970s. Residents often live four to a room, share a bathroom, and congregate in crowded common spaces. That makes it very difficult to isolate those who get sick. These problems are even worse in Canada’s for-profit nursing homes. Research shows that these private facilities provide inferior care for seniors compared to the public facilities, in large part because they hire fewer staff members and put fewer resources into upgrading or redesigning their buildings. The for-profit model incentivizes cost-cutting. (Similarly problematic profit motives and poor living conditions persist in US nursing homes, too.) Canadian experts have been raising the alarm about these issues for more than a decade. So why haven’t they been addressed? “Frankly, overall, it really reflects ageism in society. We choose not to invest in frail older adults,” Stall said. He added that early on in the pandemic, the public imagination latched onto stories of relatively young people on ventilators in hospitals. The hospitals and their staff got resources, free food, nightly applause. Homes for older people didn’t get the same attention. “Nursing homes are not something we’re proud of societally. There’s a lot of shame around even having someone in a nursing home,” Stall said. Stamatopoulos noted there are other forces at play, too. “I’d say it’s a trifecta of ageism, racism, and sexism,” she said. “When you look at this industry, it’s majority female older residents being cared for by majority racialized women.” Ronnie Cahana, a 66-year-old rabbi who lives with paralysis at the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal, recently wrote a letter to Quebec’s premier. “I am not a statistic. I am a fully sentient, confident human being, who needs to have my humanity honored,” he wrote, adding that the premier should help the workers who take care of people like him. “Many of them are immigrants, newly beginning their lives in Quebec. … Please give them all the resources they require. Listen to their voices.” How to make nursing homes safer — in Canada and beyond If you want to keep nursing homes from becoming coronavirus hot spots, look to the strategies that have proven effective elsewhere. For months now, Canadian public health experts and advocates have been begging leaders to do just that. All residents and workers in nursing homes should be tested regularly, whether they show symptoms or not. Anyone who gets sick should be isolated in a separate part of the building or taken to the hospital. Workers should be given adequate PPE, and universal masking among them should be mandatory. Working at multiple homes during the pandemic should be disallowed. “Look at South Korea. They’ve had no deaths in long-term care because they treated it like SARS right from the get-go,” Stamatopoulos said. “They did aggressive testing. They were strict in terms of quarantining any infected residents and were quick to move them to hospitals. We’ve done the opposite.” Earlier in the pandemic, some Canadian hospitals sent recovering Covid-19 patients back to their nursing homes too soon; they inadvertently infected others. “And look at New York state,” Stamatopoulos continued. “Gov. Cuomo signed an executive order on May 10 requiring all staff and residents to be tested twice a week. That aggressive testing helped halt the outbreaks in the homes.” Quebec and Ontario have yet to do this. British Columbia, a Canadian standout at preventing deaths in nursing homes, adopted several wise measures early on. Way back on March 27, the western province made it illegal to work in more than one home — and topped up workers’ wages so they wouldn’t have to. It gave them full-time jobs and sick leave benefits. It’s clear that so long as long-term care falls under provincial jurisdiction, nursing home residents will be better off in some provinces than in others. So some Canadian experts, including Stamatopoulos, are arguing that these facilities should be nationalized under the Canada Health Act. Others are not sure that’s the answer; Stall thinks it may make sense to target only for-profit homes, compelling them to improve their poor infrastructure. In the long term, any homes that do not meet modern standards should be redesigned. Another lesson for the long term comes from Hong Kong, which has managed to totally avoid deaths in its nursing homes. Even before the coronavirus came along, all homes had a trained infection controller who put precautions in place to prevent the spread of infections. (US homes saw a similar system enacted under President Obama, but President Trump has proposed that it be rolled back.) Four times a year, Hong Kong’s homes underwent pandemic preparedness drills so that if an outbreak occurred, they’d be ready with best practices. It did, and they were. Preparedness clearly saves lives. Hopefully, Canada and other countries will learn that lesson going forward so that no more lives are needlessly lost. As Cahana, the resident in the Montreal home, said, “Each of us is crying to be heard. We say: More life! Please! We are not afraid of the future. We are afraid that society is forgetting us.” Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.
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Trump Is Campaigning on a Platform of Abject Failure
President Trump has laid out his case for reelection.In a series of speeches over the past several days, the president has spelled out, or at least gestured toward, the major themes of his coming campaign. There will be other themes, to be sure—mostly, one presumes, attacks on Joe Biden—but the president’s recent speeches in Tulsa, in Phoenix, and at Mount Rushmore all outline what appear to be the main components of his affirmative case for a second term.The argument is an odd one—a brew of nostalgia for an economy that the president’s incompetence has actively helped ruin, magical thinking about the course of the pandemic, and white racial grievance and identity politics.The argument is not based on any programmatic promises or some kind of policy agenda for a second term in office. In fact, when asked recently what he wants to do in a second term, Trump went off on an extended and barely coherent riff about the word experience. There’s no equivalent to his 2016 assurance that “I alone can fix it” or his promises to shake things up or drain the swamp or build a wall. Nor, for that matter, is there anything like his broad assertions about his great powers as a dealmaker, someone who could do business with a hostile Congress as easily as with Vladimir Putin.Largely gone as well are major themes of Trump’s speeches during his years in office. He’s not vamping about the “Russia hoax” these days. The impeachment saga makes only a relatively brief appearance. He’s not complaining about the “coup attempt” or the “deep state” much either.[Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes: Trump is boring now, and he can’t do anything about it]So what is Trump’s case for reelection?The argument proceeds as follows—with the important proviso that we are imposing a bit more discipline and organization on it than is obvious in Trump’s speeches themselves:First, Trump wants voters to support him based not on the current state of the economy—crushed as it is by the coronavirus pandemic—but on how well the economy was doing before the pandemic. Or as he put it in a June speech in Phoenix: “Before the plague came in, we had the best of everything. We had the best interest rates. We had the best employment rates. We had the best job numbers ever.” Having made the economy great prior to the pandemic, he argues, he is the best man to, well, make the economy great again—unlike the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who, Trump says, will “raise your taxes like crazy.”Second, while declaring that he can help the country recover from “the plague,” Trump also insists that the plague is not really that bad. “I have done a phenomenal job with it,” he told the crowd in Tulsa, trumpeting the limitations his administration imposed in late January on travel from China and ignoring the skyrocketing number of new coronavirus cases in the United States. At the same rally, he suggested that “my people” should “slow the testing down, please,” to keep the number of new cases low. The president seems to believe he may not need to do anything to address the pandemic at all. As The Washington Post reports, he has suggested 19 times since February that the virus might just “go away”—most recently on July 1.The president’s other themes place him in familiar culture-war territory. In what The New York Times politely describes as an effort to “exploit race and cultural flash points,” Trump has, third, positioned himself against protesters pulling down or defacing statues memorializing the Confederacy or other racist figures or causes. To listen to his rhetoric, the issue isn’t one of a handful of demonstrators but an immense, coordinated effort to blot out American history—though just how remains unclear. “The left-wing mob,” he warned in his Mount Rushmore speech, “is trying to demolish our heritage so they can replace it with a new repressive regime that they alone control.”Trump thus links statues to a fourth theme: the “unhinged left-wing mob” seeking to “punish, cancel, and persecute anyone who does not conform to their demands.” Trump is all in against such repression, calling it at Mount Rushmore “a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished.” He promises to stand against this.And this leads to the final variation on Trump’s culture-war pitch and fifth major theme: Not only does the “left-wing mob” want to tear down statues and punish conservatives, but this supposed radical cohort will bring about the destruction of law and order altogether in its calls to defund police. In many of the president’s recent speeches, this blurs together with the imagined danger of “open borders”—one of the president’s older themes that has retreated in centrality but always lurks close to the surface. “They want to punish your thought, but not their violent crimes,” he said at Tulsa. “They want to abolish bail, abolish and open up your borders. They want open borders.”Finally, Trump argues that Biden is too weak to prevent this chaos. Consequently, voters—presumptively white ones—have a choice between order and a reopened, rejuvenated economy, and the barbarian hordes coming for their treasure and Confederate statues.[David A. Graham: Donald Trump’s lost cause ]Trump’s case has obvious problems, both moral and intellectual. But, more pragmatically, the argument is flawed from an electoral standpoint. For example, even voters who believe that Trump deserves credit for the pre-coronavirus economy may worry that his disastrous response to the virus has contributed to the economic devastation the country now faces. Trump’s approval rating on his handling of the pandemic is not good; a solid and growing majority disapproves of it, and a whopping 85 percent of the country is either somewhat or extremely worried about the economy. Those aren’t good numbers against which to ask for a vote as an incumbent.Moreover, the human costs of the pandemic beg for an electoral reckoning, one that Biden is likely to demand of Trump and to which the current president is extremely vulnerable. His propensity to wish the matter away only exacerbates this problem. And the United States’s performance cannot convincingly be portrayed as admirable in the face of rising COVID-19 case numbers not seen anywhere else in the developed world.The attempt to tag Biden with the excesses of every anarchist protester is also unpersuasive. Whatever Biden is, he’s no leftist firebrand, and his rhetoric has not given aid or comfort to demonstrators engaged in illegal activity—who are not obviously part of his political camp in any event. Painting him as responsible for controlling the supposed mob Trump warns about will be tricky, particularly because Trump himself is the incumbent, and many Democratic primary voters supported Biden as a moderate alternative to more radical choices—as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, no moderate herself, pointed out recently. Finally, despite hopeful noises from his campaign that Trump’s culture-war shtick will ingratiate him with frightened suburban white women, the polls don’t bear this out. Rather, the attempt to stand behind law enforcement against protesters is actually unpopular, given the current public horror at police behavior, and sympathy with the large majority of protesters who have remained peaceful.So Trump is swimming upriver with this case.But he may not have much choice. He hardly has an obvious alternative argument for his own reelection. He could have his campaign generate a policy program for a second term, but that would be very off-brand. Trump has never talked policy much, beyond promises to build walls and make better trade deals. And a sudden lunge in that direction would be utterly unconvincing. Trump is left with grievance and magic because he’s running for reelection while presiding over the smoldering ruins of an economy and a six-figure death toll from the virus he has let grind the nation to a halt.
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