Larry Kudlow’s aging visage materialized on CNBC Wednesday for another one of his obligatory weekly “interviews” with the network he once called home.
Andrew Ross Sorkin notwithstanding, CNBC is just a less abrasive, finance-focused version of Fox, which has a history of welcoming CNBC anchors willing to trade the pretense of objectivity for a bigger paycheck.
Obviously, Kudlow never had any credibility during his professional career, and his television days were just a long, highlight reel of hapless, raspy supply-side sockpuppetry. He would be totally irrelevant were it not for his role in the administration, and I generally stopped covering his party-line parroting a year ago.
But, on Wednesday, he talked about the virus, and his remarks are at least worth a mention in the context of surging cases in the US, which just recorded a daily record for infections at more than 60,000.
I see no need to sugarcoat this — the figure (below) suggests an almost comical level of incompetence both at the state and federal levels.
Joe Kernen (who is almost as sycophantic vis-à-vis the administration as Kudlow), mentioned the prospect of a renewed national lockdown, effectively playing Devil’s advocate to himself.
“I’m hearing this criticism from certain sectors, and that is that the administration is underselling what’s happening with the virus — it’s almost as if the country has to be reopened if there’s a chance for the reelection of the president”, Kernen said, feigning journalistic integrity. “Is the administration at this point underplaying the actual threat that this pandemic still [poses] to us?”
“Well, I don’t think so”, Kudlow responded. “I mean the facts are the facts. No one has denied that we’ve had a huge jump in cases in certain hot spots”.
The facts are indeed the facts and yet, some members of the administration have all but denied them. Mike Pence, for instance, delivered a press briefing two Fridays ago during which he said, quote, “all 50 states are opening up safely and responsibly”.
That was not true then, and it’s even less true now. Texas reported more than 10,000 new cases on Tuesday, for example.
“It looks like the virus migrated south, and then west”, Kudlow went on to stammer. “I don’t know anybody [who’s] downplayed that”.
Again, the vice president has downplayed that, and so has Trump, who held an indoor stadium rally in a county where cases were surging last month. The only saving grace was that virtually nobody showed up to see him. The whole thing is a (tragi)comedy of errors.
“In general hospitalization capacity is plentiful… and the fatality rate continues to fall”, Kudlow continued, before admitting that “we weren’t sufficiently prepared for the breakout among millennials”.
Why we wouldn’t be prepared for that is anyone’s guess, but at least Kudlow has the decency to state the obvious. “The good news is that millennials tend to be least harmed by this”, he added.
Ultimately, Kudlow said “We have to become accustomed” to flare-ups. The virus will be a fact of life in America, apparently. This shift in tone was tipped last week and it’s being gingerly implemented in the administration’s communications strategy.
If nothing else, the market is fine with it — for now anyway.
Trump, meanwhile, took to Twitter to administer the nation’s daily dose of aggravated balderdash.
“I disagree with the CDC on their very tough and expensive guidelines for opening schools”, the president chided, less than 24 hours after telling a gathering at the White House that he intends to “pressure” governors when it comes to classrooms.
“They are asking schools to do very impractical things”, Trump said of the CDC. “I will be meeting with them!!!”