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Why wouldn’t Dems attack Abbott for his COVID response?

I am puzzled by the premise of this article.

As the Democratic National Convention opened on Monday, former First Lady Michelle Obama condemned President Donald Trump for having downplayed the coronavirus pandemic and scenes flashed throughout the night from Houston, an epicenter of the crisis.

“Too many are struggling to take care of basic necessities like food and rent,” Obama said. “Too many communities have been left in the lurch to grapple with whether and how to open our schools safely.”

In Texas, Democrats have seized on similar attacks, targeting Gov. Greg Abbott and his ties to the Trump Administration during the pandemic to undermine Republicans down ballot, especially in diverse suburban districts around Houston and Dallas.

While the governor is not on the ballot this year, Democrats have long believed that their best path to retaking the state House this cycle goes through Abbott, a close ally of the Trump Administration and a fundraising juggernaut who has consistently wielded his name and campaign war chest to help struggling GOP candidates cross the finish line in crucial electoral contests.

The pandemic has given them some of the most forceful attacks in years.

Abbott’s “complete and utter mismanagement of this from day one has made this a completely different calculus for us than it was before,” said Abhi Rahman, a spokesman for the Texas Democratic Party. He added, “Everyone is seeing firsthand just how dismal Republicans are at managing a crisis.”

[…]

Whether the criticism against Abbott lands this fall will depend in part on how the health crisis evolves in the coming weeks. Despite his initial haste to reopen businesses, the governor heeded calls to halt further openings and issued a statewide mask mandate, which drew stiff condemnation from his party’s far-right flank.

Abbott has still declined to issue temporary lockdowns or allow officials in the hardest hit regions, especially the Rio Grande Valley, to issue their own. Statewide, new daily infections and hospitalizations are falling, though more slowly than public health officials would hope, especially as schools begin reopening this month.

The governor has allowed school districts to delay in-person instruction, meaning in some counties, students may not return until a week before the election. Public health experts have warned that returning to in-class learning before infections are largely contained could lead to new surges in hospitalizations and deaths.

Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University who is tracking the most competitive Texas House races, said Abbott’s response to the surge this summer was “the most he’s ever bucked the conservative wing of his party.”

“And that’s because he maybe knows that if he hadn’t, Republicans may have lost more in November,” Jones said, adding, “I think for Abbott, a lot will depend on whether the pandemic becomes less severe in the next two months.”

The governor’s approval ratings are the lowest they’ve been since he took office, though he remains well liked by Republicans, according to polls. And Abbott has worked to shore up support within his core constituency of white, older Texans by appearing almost nightly on local TV news outlets.

I mean, obviously the Dems are going to attack Abbott’s response to the pandemic. Even if he had done everything in an objectively optimal manner, even if he wasn’t so closely tied to the dismal failure that is the Trump response to the pandemic, even if there were no complaints about the proper amount of executive power being wielded, there would always be things that could have gone better and could be subject to legitimate criticism. Besides, what other option would Dems have? Largely agreeing with him wouldn’t get them anywhere. You may say well, if he was handling this brilliantly then they shouldn’t be attacking him. I say there’s always room for an opposing perspective, and the critique of this aspect of Abbott’s performance as Governor fits well into other avenues the Dems would like to razz him on.

Attacks aren’t necessarily a positive thing for the attackers. People do generally get a sense for when an attack is unfair and based on lies, so whatever the Dems will be saying needs to be grounded in some valid basis or else it just won’t land. Abbott is also perfectly capable of defending himself and launching his own offensives, thanks to his gazillions of dollars in his campaign treasury. Will Democratic criticism of Abbott’s performance vault someone else into the Governor’s mansion? Maybe, though no matter what happens next that will depend as much on who that person will be as anything else. Nothing is guaranteed, and until Dems win a statewide race it’s all theoretical anyway. But really, what else would they do? It would be political malpractice to not be all over this, and that’s even without all the material Abbott has provided. You’re going to be hearing about this for a long time, so just get used to it.

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35 Comments

  1. Manny says:

    Have to somewhat disagree with the following;

    Attacks aren’t necessarily a positive thing for the attackers. People do generally get a sense for when an attack is unfair and based on lies, so whatever the Dems will be saying needs to be grounded in some valid basis or else it just won’t land.

    While it may be true for the so called elitists of the Democratic Party, it certainly is not true of the vast majority of the people who call themselves Republicans. One but has to recall what the Trump lovers say on this forum to realize that they pander in lies that only their kind believe.

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    Trump told many lies and said a lot of nonsensical things about the pandemic, but, at the end of the day, what would Obama have done better?

    The people behind on rent are because everything shut down, and jobs and businesses were lost. The Democrat party supported the massive closing. Goodness, one of the anti-Trump crowd, someone called Bill Maher, said that he wished we would have the biggest, greatest, most beautiful recession ever, just to hurt Trump’s re-election chances. Meantime, the empathy deficient Fauci, another rich person, said that he understands that it is “inconvenient” to be out of work,and lose your house, totally ignoring the increase in suicides, substance abuse, domestic violence. He said, “sorry for the inconvenience,” and headed out to throw out the first pitch of MLB and pose by his pool for the In Style centerfold.

    The federal government has spent trillions of dollars, started Operation Warp Speed, and the CARES act. The US has done more testing than the rest of the world combined. The federal government and the state government have done an adequate job.

    If you keep handing out money to everyone, you get inflation, and then the financially distressed will still be out of luck with their stack of worthless dollars. What solutions did Mrs Obama propose?

  3. C.L. says:

    “The federal government and the state government have done an adequate job.”

    An adequate job ? That’s a pretty low bar…

  4. Manny says:

    Jason one person, wow. Thousands maybe tens of thousands believe Obama is running a pedophile ring, is in league with Satan and is a cannibal.

    The only redeeming value that you and others have is that rational people can see how low the Republican Party has sunk.

    Anything that one could say about Obama doing would be sheer speculation.

    Where would we be if we did not have an idiot as president?

    https://youtu.be/iMIKzUAY8n4

  5. brad says:

    Jason,

    Great question about governance from Mrs Obama.

    Instead I think people will be breathlessly waiting on Melania’s pithy proposed solutions.

    Or should folks not hold their breath?

  6. Jason Hochman says:

    brad, they offer only criticism, and maybe the “wear a damn mask” line, but they have no solutions, no good advice.

    Let’s just say that Biden is not running a campaign of ideas. His strategy is to stay out of sight. The media makes the election about Trump, as if you can cast an against vote for a candidate. While I believe that should be allowed, as it is now, your only choice is to either vote for another candidate or not vote. I usually abstain from voting. Maybe Kanye is a good choice this time around.

    Oh, and your bringing up Melania has no relevance here. Mrs. Obama, according to the article, condemned Trump. Well, she issued a condemnation, but has no better alternative. Melania has had the good sense to remain largely quiet. Then again, Melania is not a natural born US citizen, and thus is not looking to run for president or VP in 2024 or 2028.

  7. Jules says:

    Kanye did not make it in time to be on the ballot in Texas.

    Melania is on the GOP’s agenda to speak at their convention (official platform: whatever trump last tweeted), however she did not get a title of “the Honorable” like Ivanka did.

  8. brad says:

    Jason,

    Your lies and deflections are pretty funny. Check out Biden’s extremely detailed website with written policy positions.

    The Republican Party literally has no principles. Their only guiding star is being against things and kicking over the old white supremacist grievance anthill to keep the base angry and in line to try and squeak out an electoral college victory.

    The Republican Party is simply becoming a ballot line vehicle to maintain power for a dictatorial egomaniac. The GOP is not a political party. They literally have no platform because they stand for nothing other than remaining in power.

    Feel free to share Trump’s written policy positions from his website and the GOP’s national platform. Just as a I suspected…crickets

  9. Jules says:

    brad, exactly. The GOPs platform is a one pager where they crybaby about the media and say the platform is whatever trump says and they just might come up with a platform for 2024.

  10. Jason Hochman says:

    brad, well it is not really a lie, but simply my ignorance. I have not checked Biden’s Web site (or any other candidate Web site for that matter).

    From what I have seen on any infotainment news Biden has not emerged from isolation, and his only statement was that he would have a mask law for 3 months (which would conveniently be ending just after the election).

    But once again, you are bringing up Trump. That’s what the election is all about. Trump, and how he must be removed, even if the lesser evil is no better. During Trump’s term my life hasn’t suffered because of him, and I feel like I can get through another four years with him or with Biden as president.

  11. Jules says:

    How can Biden make a 3 month mask law that would end just after the election? If elected, he couldn’t do anything until January, which would put a 3 month law ending in April at the soonest.

  12. Jason Hochman says:

    Jules, Come on man. You have to have heard that Biden and Harris called for a three month mask mandate, and urged all the governors to enact it. Not even elected and already trying to rule by diktat, they suggested this in mid-August. Three months from mid August is….mid November. Just happens to be a handy dandy time frame that would end a week or so after the election. In COVID-land, there is no logic. The virus will allow the protests, but not other gatherings. The masks have not been tested in randomized clinical trials anymore than hydroxychlorquine, but the virus said that masks work, but hydroxychloroquine (which has been used for 70 years and is on the WHO list of essential medicines) will turn deadly if used to treat COVID. No logic here.

  13. Jules says:

    Well, we do have a mask mandate in Texas. Thanks, Biden!

  14. Jason Hochman says:

    The mask law in Texas came before Biden made that statement. It is thanks to Gov. Abbott. However, there is no randomized clinical trial showing that wearing the face blockers works. In fact, the CDC Web site has a review article posted about randomized trials of non-pharmaceutical interventions in prior influenza outbreaks. The fact is that masks and hand washing had no effect. Granted this was influenza, but the method of spread (droplets) is the same.

  15. Jules says:

    No, it does not spread the same as flu. Covid is airborne.

  16. Jason Hocman says:

    Jules, no COVID MIGHT be airborne, but primarily spreads through droplets the same as influenza. The masks are supposed to stop droplets. A mask made from old sheets, curtains, T shirts, handkerchiefs would not stop airborne spread.

    I mean the CDC Web site just a few weeks ago on July 31 published a guidance that said that a mask MAY prevent an infected person from spreading the disease, but do little to protect the wearer from being infected. This is right in the CDC guidance. Masks mitigate the spread, to a small extent, but there real purpose is something else. Plus, you are wearing it wrong, so they tell you to err on the side of caution, and disregard whether or not contacts were wearing a mask. Here is the paragraph from the CDC:

    While research indicates masks may help those who are infected from spreading the infection, there is less information regarding whether masks offer any protection for a contact exposed to a symptomatic or asymptomatic patient. Therefore, the determination of close contact should be made irrespective of whether the person with COVID-19 or the contact was wearing a mask. Because the general public has not received training on proper selection and use of respiratory PPE, it cannot be certain whether respiratory PPE worn during contact with an individual with COVID-19 infection protected them from exposure. Therefore, as a conservative approach, the determination of close contact should generally be made irrespective of whether the contact was wearing respiratory PPE, which is recommended for health care personnel and other trained users, or a mask recommended for the general public.

    SO: wash your damn mask. Don’t wear your mask as a chin bra. Don’t take it off or touch it, even if you go to a restaurant, just leave it on. Don’t litter disposable masks everywhere. Make sure to make or buy a new non disposable mask every few days. Those things stretch, wear, tear, and stop fitting properly after wearing for several days.

  17. Jason Hochman says:

    There is no consensus on whether or not COVID is airborne. It may be, but primarily transmits through droplets, just like influenza. In any case the cloth masks and scarves won’t stop airborne spread very well, if at all.

    The main reason that a mask may be beneficial for COVID is the number of asymptomatic infections. Which then begs the question of why are we so worked up about a virus that will be asymptomatic in perhaps half of all infections, and ranging from mild to moderate cold/flu symptoms in about 97% of the infected.

    CDC guidance even states that masks may or may not be effective, and that they are often not worn properly, so contact tracing shouldn’t even consider whether or not the people wore a mask.

  18. Jules says:

    How is it asymptomatic in half of all cases, and mild to moderate cold/flu symptoms in 97% of the infected?

  19. brad says:

    Jason,

    I can give you 177,873 reasons why people are “so worked up”.

    https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

  20. Jason Hochman says:

    Jules, nobody knows how, but studies and reports that I’ve seen estimate asymptomatic infection to range from 40–80% of infections. The vast majority of those who get sick have self limiting illness that is like a cold or flu, some slightly worse, but not in need of hospitalization.

    So the way I should have written it is that 97% of the infected either have no symptoms or symptoms ranging to moderate flu symptoms.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  21. C.L. says:

    Jason, are you a janitor in the TMC ? Certainly you’re not a trained physician….

  22. brad says:

    So the way I should have written it is that 100% of the 177,873 infected people who died of COVID died from symptoms of COVID.

    Didn’t mean to cause anyone anyone living right now any concern about the global pandemic.

  23. Jason Hochman says:

    CL I am not a janitor, nor a physician.

    brad, the 177,873 people who may have died with COVID, not of it, may be more accurate.

    For example, I just read in the Chronicle the super sad story of a woman in El Paso, who posted on Facebook to take this pandemic seriously. As I read the story, come to find out that she had a staph infection in her lungs. You think that could have caused her death?

    Likely that the doctors in their COVID craziness never checked for anything else, and neglected to diagnose and treat the staph infection. Or maybe it was a nosocomial infection. Either way, calling it COVID certainly gives the hospital a way out of lawsuits for their contribution to her death.

    Everything is attributed to COVID, and the data are bad, and the tests are marginally accurate. The median age of COVID deaths in the US is 78. While all deaths are sad, that is the average life expectancy in the US.

    Saying that 100% of the 177,873 people who died of COVID died from symptoms of COVID is not accurate. Caution, taking responsibility for our own health, and not succumbing to panic are better strategies than blaming Trump.

  24. Manny says:

    trump is evil. His supporters are evil. Trump is a racist. His supporters are racists. Trump is stupid. His supporters are more so. Can’t fix stupid.

  25. Jason Hochman says:

    Manny, Trump is not a racist. He was recently convicted of racism because he tweetered out something about the suburban dreams of the suburban people would be safe because he stopped some of the affordable housing programs from putting up affordable housing in the nice suburbs. For this he was convicted of racism.

    Yet, right here in Houston, my progressive neighbors all put up signs and started a campaign against the Diane Street Villains, an affordable housing development proposed.

    And, right here in Houston, there is a mayor who was convicted by HUD of having policies that promote segregation.

    But, none of these were convicted of racism by the hate screeching media.

    PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND if all you can say is Russia, or accuse me of racism, or claim that I am a Trump supporter. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, not your pat response.

  26. Jules says:

    Trump is a racist.

  27. brad says:

    Jason,

    The President of the United States Donald Trump called white supremacist, neo-Nazis “some very fine people”.

    Probably the easiest call in his entire presidency. Just call out these neo-Nazis as the filth that they are and that their presence in our country is a putrid stain of racism that is unacceptable to all Americans….and what does Trump do. The opposite.

    So Jason, Trump is a racist or fucking idiot…which one is it?

  28. brad b Moore says:

    Jason,

    The universal consensus by credible entities (not you or Fox News) is that the COVID death count is undercounted. Possibly significantly.

    If you have any links to any credible journalism or medical authorities that state the opposite please feel free to provide links. I won’t hold my breath.

  29. Jules says:

    brad, all of the above, trump is a fucking idiot racist.

  30. Jules says:

    If you don’t want people to be against your affordable housing project, maybe don’t have Villains as part of the name.

  31. Manny says:

    Jason okay, I will respond to the person I believe is a racist, that would be you.

    First, it is not Diane St. it is Dian, so that tell me that they are not your neighbors as you would at least know how to spell the street’s name.

    Second, the State stopped the project, those other racists besides Trump.

    https://theleadernews.com/state-agency-puts-dian-street-villas-project-on-ropes/

    As to HUD finding Houston discriminates based on their finding, then what you make of all the lawsuits against HUD for discrimination. State of Texas has also been accused of discrimination.

    If you were not such a persistent liar, maybe I would believe that you believe the bull you try to ply. I think you are a paid troll.

  32. Linguisticus Teutonicus says:

    On a lexical point: rule by diktat? (Response to Herr Hochman)

    Isn’t that literally the character of any executive order, minus the negative connotation? And if so, doesn’t that just convey “I disapprove of it”?
    So, as far as the deployment of “Diktat” in Kuff-grade discourse goes, does it really amount to much of an argument? — It does not go to the substance of the policy, its effectiveness, its benefits/costs, and its acceptability on normative grounds (values).

    Bottom line: All rule/government involves making orders, and enforcing them.

    If you look up the etymology, you will see that the word derives from Latin (past participle dictātum) and came into English via German. Literally and in ordinary parlance the word Diktat is quite innocuous. It refers to the slow reading of a text by a teacher for the students to write down (either elementary school students or learners of German as a foreign language), hopefully with a minimum amount of spelling errors, and good penmanship. While there is that pejorative meaning, Diktat just means dictation.

    Los geht’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bpy-7L_cmH4

    Then, in recent history (not as far back as the Treaties of Versailles or Saint-Germain), there used to be those dictators in (the) Office: Before the computer age, an executive (usually male) would dictate to his (usually female) secretary. Again, Diktat as dictation.

    So much for your ‘German Word of the Day.’

    Disclaimer: Not sponsored by the dying guild of American teachers of German.

  33. Markham says:

    Manny and Jason: last I heard the Dian Street Villas project was appealing their denial, and no final determination had been made.

    Manny: I do live near that neighborhood and have encountered Jason at the local bus stop, so I can confirm he lives here, too. Although spelled “Dian”, locals pronounce it “Diane”.

  34. Jen says:

    Dain got changed to Diane and villas got changed to villains because the Hoch is a chatbot.

  35. Jason Hochman says:

    My tablet changes the spelling sometimes.