Jonathan V. Last, journalist, author, and executive editor of The Bulwark, joins the COMMENTARY podcast. With some qualified good news coming out of infection rate modelers, the hosts wonder if the worst—which is yet to come—will be as terrible as was once forecast.

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  1. Lois Lane Coolidge

    I am skeptical of taking the same approach in every community to this virus for very much longer, to be frank, because the United States is a very large country, and the virus is infecting the population quite differently per different population densities and rates of infection. 

    Does that make me a crank? A reactionary? A decadent American? 

    I travel regularly, live in an incredibly progressive city, and didn’t vote for Donald Trump, but I don’t think that it’s irrational to consider the complexities of a lot of different moving parts when thinking about long term social/political/economic strategies that must balance a host of different community needs as we continue to think about the correct strategies to preserve health and economy. 

    What are you even talking about with these horrible country people who are thinking about the city dwellers through a moral lens? (Practical questions about good strategies are quite different from doing this.). Why is it so strange when a rural county forces social distancing by requesting quarantines when compared to cities that remove tennis nets and require people to carry papers to prove their movement is essential???

    When Last points out that there are voices on the “Trump apologist right” that are saying some of the things John suggests will be (maybe?) said, I get a little angry because he is drawing caricatures, which show a deep misunderstanding of a lot of people, and I loved The Weekly Standard. I’m not bashing here per some sense of tribe. Just responding. (Steve Hayes remains one of my favorite political pundits/writers.)

    I was so glad Noah (I think) said pointing to people who might (maybe, possibly, at some point) start saying that this is the fault of New Yorkers (probably on Twitter) would just be elevating a group of crazies that aren’t actually representative of Iowans or anyone else to a place of click-bait prominence that is completely unwarranted. (I am, of course, saying what I think was meant, so forgive me if I’m not exactly dead-on. Correct me, please, if I misunderstood the points.)

    The assessment of what a lot of rural Americans might do reminded me a bit of how journalists use the Westboro Baptist Church which has less than 100 members to represent anything at all about how Christians might feel. (They come to mind because they were mentioned here, too, by Last as shorthand for these non-serious people who are also lasher outers.)

    It’s just an aspersion to suggest any significant number of people in red areas are saying/or will say things like this, and it deepens the urban/rural divide. 

    Anyway, I love this podcast, but that’s my reaction to this conversation. 

    Also, not trying to be dense here, Christine, but if you’re playing singles tennis, aren’t you well over 6 feet away from each other? And outside? It’s not basketball. That’s what people were thinking. 

    • #1
    • April 6, 2020, at 12:55 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. The Cloaked Gaijin Member

    You can’t play (singles) tennis and stay 6 feet away from another person?

    When my cousin had a lung transplant, he could never be around anyone ever. The one exception was that he was allow to go to the golf course and be outside there.

    Contact sports and non-contact sports are completely different.

    Close the parks? The situation could be different for a big city, but hardly anyone ever uses parks in smaller cities where most people have back yards.

    At a certain point bureaucrats are just afraid that other people are having a good time and want to exert their newfound power.

    Apparently one of the worse places are elevators. The only elevators in small towns are grain elevators which are the tallest structures in such locations.

    • #2
    • April 6, 2020, at 8:24 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Lois Lane Coolidge

    The Cloaked Gaijin (View Comment):

    You can’t play (singles) tennis and stay 6 feet away from another person?

    When my cousin had a lung transplant, he could never be around anyone ever. The one exception was that he was allow to go to the golf course and be outside there.

    Contact sports and non-contact sports are completely different.

    Close the parks? The situation could be different for a big city, but hardly anyone ever uses parks in smaller cities where most people have back yards.

    At a certain point bureaucrats are just afraid that other people are having a good time and want to exert their newfound power.

    Apparently one of the worse places are elevators. The only elevators in small towns are grain elevators which are the tallest structures in such locations.

    The golf courses are closed where my parents are living, open where we are staying. They are spacing players so that for what would have been two tee times, there is now only one. You can’t go with someone you don’t live with already either.

    That all seems super reasonable to me. 

    The gyms are closed, after all. 

    Isn’t one of the biggest problems in the US that we have so many people who are unfit? The governor of LA pointed out that one of the reasons that New Orleans has an especially vulnerable population is that they have a lot of people who are overweight. Being stuck inside, I have gained a couple of pounds, and I ran four half marathons in a row right before this whole thing started shutting down the world. The answer to this health crisis isn’t taking away everyone’s ability to exercise.

    I also really don’t get this problem people are having with tennis. I haven’t played in years, and I guess I could see making people skip every other court in a park. I can understand saying no doubles. But even if I was at the net in a game of singles, it’s rare that you would be on top of the person you’re playing. And if I was playing my husband? He’s closer in our apartment as we sit getting flabby on the couch.

    Soccer, basketball, football, rugby, martial arts… yeah.

    Volleying a tennis ball back and forth from two baselines??????? 

    Really, really flummoxed why this is bad unless people are having tournaments and gathering to watch??? And Christine is not the first person I’ve heard speaking of cavalier tennis players, like they’re some sort of serious problem.

    • #3
    • April 7, 2020, at 4:40 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. Penfold Member

    If some small dark part of a statistician’s, virologist’s, epidemiologist’s and other researcher’s hearts does not say “I’ve been telling you this for years”, they aren’t human. Professionalism and having some class will keep them from saying so, but still.

    • #4
    • April 7, 2020, at 7:37 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. Henry Racette Contributor

    JVL: “Understand this. The underlying economic problem is the virus itself.”

    I’ve heard him say this before, and I don’t think he’s correct. Within the US, I think the shutdown is the proximate cause of the major economic problem, outside of those localities particularly hard-hit.

    • #5
    • April 7, 2020, at 2:23 PM PDT
    • 3 likes