The Republican leadership is put to face by wearing masks.

Donald Trump was not wearing a mask in the East Room of the White House on June 26, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

On Monday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the session for the week imploring “every family, every small business, every employer and every level of government to apply common sense” to combat spread of the coronavirus, which has been reaffirmed in the record case levels over the past week. Then he became more specific.

“To name just one example,” he said, “We should have no stigma, none, about wearing masks when we leave our homes and approach other people. Wearing simple facial covers is not about protecting ourselves, it is about protecting everyone we meet. ”

This was not the message that the American right had been sharing and gathering for the past month, as resistance to wearing masks turned into yet another skirmish in the Trump-era political struggle. But Republicans shudder when the virus spreads through the south and the solar belt. The rising rate of cases in Florida, Texas, and Arizona, especially, over the past week has led these Republican officials to emphasize in their messages that covering their faces is not a sign of weakness, succumbing to an alarmist left, or expressing disapproval. Donald Trump. Everyone should do it.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio said last week that everyone should “wear a damn mask.” And Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, the sane (and consequently retired) chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, called for the depoliticization of mask wear during a hearing Wednesday with Anthony Fauci. “Unfortunately,” Alexander said, “this simple life-saving practice has become part of a political debate that says: If you are for Trump, you do not wear a mask. If you are against Trump, you do.”

The Republican House Trumpier conference has also joined. House of Representatives minority leader Kevin McCarthy said Monday that “every Republican has a responsibility” to wear a mask. The partisan battles over whether members should wear masks in hearings also appear to be drawing to a close. After the House Majority Whip, Jim Clyburn, chairman of the select committee overseeing the response to the coronavirus, said he would no longer recognize the members who were not wearing masks, his counterpart, the House Minority Whip. Steve Scalise said his caucus would meet the requirement: “It’s not a big deal.” House Republican No. 3 Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney also did her part, tweeting a photo of her father, the former vice president, wearing a mask next to the hashtag “#realmenwearmasks.”

In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp, another Trumpster who was one of the first governors to begin reopening his state, embarked on a “wear a mask” state tour before the holiday weekend. Even Fox News hosts have begun to admit that wearing a mask does not necessarily make you a coward and may even have scientific merit to protect you against the spread of a respiratory death virus.

“I was at the epicenter of this. I went to my supermarket every week. Guess what? They wore masks. No one in my supermarket, thank God, contracted coronavirus, ”Sean Hannity said Monday. “I think they work. And I said, especially if I wear a mask and it opens NFL baseball, concerts, football, I’d rather wear the mask and go to the game to protect grandma, grandpa, mom and dad and watch the ball game. ” . Fox and friends Host Steve Doocy, America’s most powerful media voice, given that his show airs during President Trump’s Twitter rush hours, offered cheesy but unusually well-intentioned advice: “‘MAGA’ should mean ‘The masks are great at again. ‘Let me give you some marketing advice right there. ”

Republicans are even beginning to admit that the party’s partial national convention in Jacksonville may not happen as Trump intended (with no restrictions whatsoever, owning the timid Democrats from the remote convention). This contingency may seem obvious to anyone looking at a coronavirus outbreak map and viewing Jacksonville as the de facto capital of the present hell. But the idea of ​​not allowing Trump his re-election festival was once indescribable.

“Senator Scott has expressed that if the convention takes place in Florida, attendees should wear masks and social distance whenever possible,” a spokesman for Florida Senator Rick Scott said Wednesday. “You have confidence that [RNC] Chairwoman [Ronna] McDaniel will make the right decision for the party. ”

The republican apparatus is trying to untie a knot in much of its own creation. Many toyed with protesters against the blockade and allowed themselves the general paranoia of the right about liberals exaggerating the pandemic to destroy the economy and the Trump presidency. The rate at which leaders “reopened the United States” became a front in the culture war, and then the wearing of masks as well. And then the outbreak moved to red states.

But to successfully untie that knot, or to remove the “stigma” McConnell spoke of, Republican leaders acknowledge that they have to convince the prominent Republican leader whose position on the issue we have not mentioned. And the target of his public relations push to wear a mask is both President Trump and his constituents or viewers. “I think if the president wore one,” Doocy said, “it would be a good example. It would be a good role model. I don’t see any problem with the president wearing a mask in public.” Alexander made a similar suggestion at the Senate hearing.

“I have suggested that the president occasionally wear a mask, although there are not many occasions when it is necessary to do so,” Alexander said. “The President has millions of fans. They would follow suit. It would help end this political debate. There’s a lot at stake for it to continue. ”

Kayleigh McEnany, the president’s press secretary, was asked about Alexander’s comments at Tuesday’s press conference. “The president has said he has no problem with the masks” —well, he has suggested that people could get coronavirus by tinkering with their masks— “which encourages people to make whatever decisions are best for their safety and to follow local jurisdictions ” say, “McEnany said.” And the president is the most proven man in America. It is his decision whether to wear a mask. ” The Republican leadership in the United States has moved its position to Wear a damn mask. The republican leader in the United States, however, it is stuck, It’s up to you.

Trump wore a mask once, during a visit to a Ford factory, and tried to prevent photos of him being worn by wearing it. (It was not successful). He fears that people will make fun of what he looks like with a mask, since he so cheerfully mocked how Joe Biden looked with a mask. He is afraid of looking “weak”. And since he sees everything as a political statement for or against him, he could also see wearing masks as a political statement against him. Not that I’m being useless, or idle, in the Republicans’ effort to remove the stigma from the mask. He personally believes that the masks are stigmatic. It will take more than a few Senate speeches or cable news clips to influence him.

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