More than 150,000 Americans are testing positive for the coronavirus each day. A thousand Americans are dying daily. Americans are being warned not to congregate over the holidays for fear of accelerating the already runaway pandemic that is on pace to claim 300,000 American lives by Christmas. Meanwhile, in the alternate universe that is the dying days of the Trump administration, the Washington Post reports the White House held its first holiday party Monday afternoon and is set to throw a dozen or so more indoor holiday parties because “the president and the first lady are determined to have a final holiday season in the White House.”
“The parties will be paid for by the Republican Party, a person with knowledge of the planning said, and will cost millions of dollars,” the Post reports, “including a large congressional ball on Dec. 10.” Holiday parties, of course, are a customary part of any president’s holiday schedule and invitees typically range from friends and family to staff, lawmakers, and prominent supporters, donors, and sundry hangers-on. The events typically resemble your average Christmas party: food and drinks, mingling and small talk, perhaps some tipsy dancing. Add in tours of the White House, pictures with the president, and you’ve got yourself a snazzier version of the average American office holiday party. Sounds fun(-ish)! The obvious cut-and-paste disclaimer here is: This is not a typical year for all of the reasons that you don’t need repeated to you. The White House said the usual notional safety measures would be in place, social distancing “encouraged,” mask-wearing “required,” but judging by previous administration events that’s more performative disclaimer than actual mandate.
But President Donald Trump checked out weeks ago even as the country battles surge upon surge of coronavirus cases. Trump has shown little interest in protecting those around him or modeling good behavior for the rest of the country; he has largely refused to wear masks or social-distance, and has derided those who do. As a result, the Trump White House has hosted two recent events—Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination and an election night party—that resulted in an outbreak of cases in the White House, including top advisers, the Trump family, and even the president himself.