The Monday Morning Teaser

Being basically a hermit by nature, I’m enduring lockdown fairly well. (It also helps that I’m doing OK financially, I don’t have small children to keep occupied, and my major activity — this blog — can proceed more-or-less undisturbed.) Even my week in solitary, when I thought I might be infected, passed fairly pleasantly.

But I’m starting to notice more and more signs of depression in my social-media universe. Occasionally I hear someone try to say something uplifting, but even that comes out depressing. It’s sort of like when a soldier tries to raise his companions’ courage, but really just reminds everybody how scary the situation is. (“We may not have anything that penetrates their tanks’ armor, and poison gas is indeed a terrible way to die, but are we afraid? No, we are not! We may be running out of food and bullets, but we have as much spirit as we ever did!”)

So I’m wondering if I’ve been underestimating the toll this experience is taking on people in general. If you have observations on this that you’re willing to put out on the internet, please leave a comment.

As I’ve pointed out before, news keeps going into reruns: more people are dead, Trump said something stupid, yada yada yada. It would be easy to put out the same weekly summary week after week, just updating the links to the current instances of the continuing narratives. (Although Trump really outdid himself this week with the injecting-disinfectants comment. Try as I might to let that go, I ended up writing about it.) So it’s a challenge to approach the news with a what-did-we-learn-this-week attitude.

This week, the featured post looks at the question: Why isn’t the rally-round-the-flag effect working for Trump? During a crisis, presidents generally see their popularity rise — even if the bad news could just as easily be blamed on them. For example, FDR’s navy suffered a crushing defeat at Pearl Harbor, but the next month he had an 84% approval rating. The current crisis gave Trump’s approval a bit of a blip — from the low 40s to the high 40s — but it dissipated in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, governors of both parties are seeing a more typical rise: Democrats like Andrew Cuomo and Republicans like Mike DeWine have scored numbers in the 80s. What’s up with that?

That post still needs some work, but it should be out by 10 or 11 EDT.

The weekly summary looks at a few states starting to reopen, and a lot of states starting to announce reopening plans. As always, I’ll update the numbers on cases and deaths. (The models that predicted 60,000 total deaths are looking way too optimistic now. We should blow through that number in a few days.) As I said, I can’t ignore the disinfectants controversy, but I’ll approach it from the why-didn’t-anybody-jump-up-and-correct-him angle rather than rage for the Nth time at how ignorant Trump is. Stupidity at the top is old news, but the corruption of the supposedly apolitical parts of the government is the ongoing story.

Some really funny song parodies are going around, and come out amazingly quickly.

And then there are stories that either have nothing to do with the virus, or are tangential to it: The Senate Intelligence Committee validated the intelligence community’s assessment of Russian interference to help Trump in 2016; Stephen Miller finally got his immigration ban; nobody knows what’s going on with Kim Jong Un; the big department store chains might not reopen; and a few other things. And I’ll close with a virtual choir of Canadian women doctors singing an inspiring song. Let’s say that appears by 1.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • Dan Goldner  On April 27, 2020 at 7:50 am

    If I stay in the moment, and only think about what I need to do today (for my students that I teach; for my kids at home that I’m helping with their distance learning), then I’m ok. If I start thinking about tomorrow, or September, or the election, I go into a mental free fall.
    My understanding with the social distancing was that we need to do this so that the federal government can ramp up testing, etc so that we can beat the pandemic while we try to develop a vaccine. But the federal government, instead of trying to help, is actively sabotaging efforts to beat the virus. So when I go here, there’s no hope. We’ll be in this situation through 2022 or later until we can get a vaccine. It’s incredibly depressing and just… what do we do?

  • EFCL  On April 27, 2020 at 8:41 am

    Hey Doug! Like (it seems) everyone else, you state “Republicans like Dewine”, which is fine, but no one ever seems to mention Larry Hogan here in Maryland, a Republican governor in a really Blue state. He seems to hit all of the right buttons in his handling of the pandemic: science-based, lets his experts speak, is reassuring but firm, seems to have meaningful plans, proactive in getting 500,000 tests when balked by the administration, etc. But no one seems to ever talk about him!

  • Dennis Ely  On April 27, 2020 at 8:55 am

    Well then, all the best in the second, or even in the fifth virus go around!

    Just teasing . . .


  • Creigh Gordon  On April 27, 2020 at 9:17 am

    I think what depresses me most is that I don’t see a national plan. At one point Trump laid out some milestones for reopening, but I’ve never seen a plan for reaching those milestones. And there doesn’t seem to be any chance of getting a plan until January.

  • Guest  On April 27, 2020 at 11:01 am

    The impulse to ask if others are feeling the toll of this crisis more than you is appreciated, Doug, and I suspect you know the answer is a resounding yes. In my own family we’ve seen job loss, a relationship crumble, and a member hospitalized for COVID. I recall seeing an article on how the divorce rate spiked in China with the quarantine, and I believe it. JAMA released an article a couple weeks back expecting the suicide rate to increase (beyond the upward trend we’ve been experiencing for years) and anecdotally I’m hearing that suicide cases are indeed on the rise.

    Just want to underline that much of the job/food/housing/health insecurity we are seeing predates the crisis, in other words, COVID is exposing and exacerbating pre-existing conditions that have been more or less invisible to the most comfortable among us. Like a republican who changes his mind on gay marriage and civil rights after their child comes out of the closet, I’m hoping as a society this crisis allows us to confront these issues with newly opened eyes and embrace common sense leftist solutions like we did under FDR.

  • Roger  On April 27, 2020 at 11:23 am

    The strain of my wife working at home (she’s a teacher), my 16 y.o. learning from home, and my FIL dying (not from COVID) last week has been enormous.

  • ccyager  On April 27, 2020 at 11:25 am

    Hi, Doug, thanks for asking how this virus experience is affecting people. I’ve had to deal with mini-anxiety attacks, about one a week. I’m terrified to ride public transit right now, so I’m not ready to return to work. I’m not hearing anything encouraging about people in the high risk group, where I am, and with my medical issues, I can expect the worst, so I’m focused on staying away from anyone and anything that might be carrying the virus just for my own survival. Fortunately, I’m an introvert. I’m a writer, so I’ve been working on my third novel’s first draft. When I’m writing, I’m calm and happy. When I’m watching “Doc Martin,” I’m also fine. My boss wants to set me up to work remotely, and I want that, too, but the issue is finding the equipment. So I have anxiety about that. I hear from friends that they are more depressed and the anxiety doesn’t hit them until they need to go out for something. I keep telling myself that I live through flu season every year, and this virus is spread like the flu is spread, so I just need to continue my diligent hygiene practices and be vigilant about wearing masks, washing hands, etc. But the anxiety is still there.

    The lack of competent leadership on the federal level only exacerbates the anxiety. I cannot imagine what people are going through who have lost their jobs, medical insurance, etc. I doubt $1200 goes very far for them, and they could use a lot more help from government. What depresses me are the people who are protesting the stay at home orders and other measures to protect people in favor of money. I have deep gratitude for the governor of my state and his team, the people at the state Dept. of Health, who are helping him, and then all the people who are working for our defense and protection in hospitals, the police, firefighters, grocery store workers and deliverers, etc. And a big thank you to Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx who have to put up with so much idiocy but manage to stay calm and focused.

  • Anonymous  On April 27, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    I have read the above comments, and tend to agree with all of them! Thank you for posting and allowing me to respond. It is difficult for me as I am an extrovert. But now my moods and ideas are all over the place, i.e. “this is good as now I have no excuse for not sequestering myself away and pursuing my art, my God given talent!” A solitary pursuit which has always been subverted for the adventure and beauty that beckons from the periphery wherever I am. My friends have been my sole idea of family for decades. I was already feeling the pain when we left our established routine of almost 20 years to move back up north in 2015 (another story in itself,) a transition that has evolved through various locations until now. We, most likely, will depart for the pearly gates from our present locale, or at least that was the thinking before Frump. Their have been some silver linings, i.e. 2 days in a row when I felt like I COULD really paint, dusted off my long neglected guitar, and working more closely with my husband as a team to tackle some of the problems that have arisen with this crisis. And laid off currently, he has time to work on projects here at home. But some days when I feel utterly flat, like before I realize that I need a good cry, or when I am feeling utterly depressed by what 45 is actually doing, then the joy I get from communications with friends (texting was never before appreciated than now) is replaced by the worry and anxiety that I am falling short in reciprocating. Just yesterday I found myself wondering if my friends are as depressed as I am right now, even tho I can actually compartmentalize that feeling, just shelve it, to become a receptacle for entertainment, although finding much that rises above mediocrity is a challenge and requires an investment of time. At night I steel into bed with a good book, a guilty pleasure, where I am transported to another time and place, another life. I appreciate your thorough, and insightful blog. You see what I see happening, and often provide me with substantiating and illuminating material. I do thank the scientists and doctors, but believe that Birx’s latest comments serve to enable, and perpetuate the myth that we have a leader in the white house.

  • weeklysift  On April 28, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    Everybody, thanks for your stories. I don’t feel like any of them need a “response” as such, but I want you to know that I appreciate hearing from you. I think there’s a lot of social pressure to pretend everything’s fine, and that we’re all constructively using this extra time at home to learn French or practice guitar or something. So I appreciate people being honest about the challenges they’re facing.

  • ecjspokane  On April 30, 2020 at 4:01 am


    I think that strumpet, the national whore, must be forced to personally
    be treated with everything he suggests, well before he says it, or at
    least immediately thereafter. After all, if he’s the most important
    person in the country, we can’t possibly have him get sick, can

    Please keep the good analysis coming!

    Stay well.

    Eric Johnson
    Spokane WA


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: