Like many of you, I suspect, the Clown’s dreamscape has been full of frustrating and troubling scenarios these past weeks. His dreams have included: (1) being nekkid and late for a test in a class he forgot to attend, (2) being nekkid while looting a local magic shop (looting is all the rage these days), (3) being asked to “put some clothes on” by the angry father of a blind date and (4) being seduced by Annette Funicello when he was 16 but not being able to get out of his parachute pants, that sort of thing.
That’s why his latest dream is so puzzling. No frustrations, no fear, no embarrassment and no being nekkid.
In the dream, the COVID-19 pandemic is underway and it’s clear that it could be really, really bad. There was the initial wave and now a second wave was starting. The President schedules a national televised speech. The nation tunes in. Here’s what he said.
“My fellow Americans, we are in a desperate battle with a determined and invisible enemy. We don’t yet have the weapons to completely defeat this enemy. To date, this enemy has taken more American lives than two Viet Nam Wars. Before the invisible virus is through with America it’s likely that the deaths will exceed those of our boys lost in World War II. In that war, our nation came together in patriotism, sacrifice and huge effort to defeat determined enemies on two sides of the world. Tonight, the enemy is on our shores.
During WWII we grew Victory Gardens, bought groceries with ration stamps, went without new tires or silk stockings, bought War Bonds and sent our young sons and fathers to fight and die on foreign soil.
The only sacrifice I am asking of Americans tonight is to….. wear a mask. The crazy stories you can read on-line about masks being dangerous are just that, crazy. When you go into the operating room to have surgery, would you prefer that the doctors and nurses not wear masks to prove that they are fearless? Actually, they wear masks to protect you, to keep their germs from getting into you.
This battle has been devastating for our economy and will continue to be until all Americans stop kidding themselves about this battle being over, it isn’t. Until we can open up our economy in a safe and gradual way, the virus will simply spring up in greater numbers, especially in our cities. Masks will play a pivotal role in the opening up process. Frankly, we can’t do it without them.
What we see tonight in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, where the virus is once again growing and killing after just a slight downturn, is the result of bad decisions by local politicians under pressure from virus skeptics and moneyed interests. Crowded bars, restaurants and beaches have provided COVID-19 with a raft of new hosts and that’s all the virus cares about. You can be old, middle aged, young, a Democrat, a Republican, a biker, a priest, a school teacher, a crossing guard, an aunt or uncle, a dad, a mom, a nurse or a doctor among others. If you are careless and available to be infected, infected you will be.
To those who gather to protest police misconduct and racism, and there have been millions of you, I understand your anger and frustration and I support the movement to correct a century and a half of systemic racism. Unfortunately, your zeal comes amidst a deadly pandemic that is primary spread by social interaction. I have been heartened to see that many of you are wearing masks as you gather but I have also seen many who do not. Please, if you gather for any reason, to protest or to take part in political activism, wear a mask. And please, the destruction of property is wrong and does not help your cause.
We know much more about this virus than we did just 90 days ago. We know that it is only slightly more deadly than the seasonal flu but it is many times more contagious. It is this contagion part that continues to make this virus much more serious than seasonal flu. We know that the majority of infections come from breathing in the microscopic viruses that float in the air after someone has sneezed, coughed, talked or yelled. Contracting the virus any other way is much more difficult. We know that younger people often have mild or no symptoms even when infected. We also see a dramatic increase of infections among the younger population, especially in those states that tried to open up without a solid plan for how to do it safely. As I speak tonight, at least one third of COVID ICU patients in Houston Methodist Hospital are under 50. In the beginning, the median age of those infected was 65. Today, it’s 39. So, these young people, without knowing it, spread their viruses because they don’t wear a mask and they talk or yell in a crowed bar or sneeze or cough around others. Wearing a mask is for the protection of others, not yourself.
Wearing a mask is as patriotic as growing a Victory Garden or collecting aluminum for fighter plane construction. Wearing a mask is not a sign of weakness or a loss of personal liberty. It’s a sign of empathy, determination to fight the invisible enemy and your determination to prove that America is a unique country that mobilizes together in times of attack. Wearing a mask sends a message that you want this damned enemy to run out of hosts and to stop killing Americans so we can all get back to work and play.
Making mask-wearing a political statement is giving the invisible enemy an edge. We didn’t politicize WWII, why politicize one of the most effect weapons we currently have available to fight an enemy that is determined to infect as many Americans as Americans will allow? Wearing a mask reduces the chance that you will spread the virus by five fold. This pandemic is our WWII and everyone must take defensive action or we could lose the struggle and our economy.
Our government cannot effectively insist that everyone wear a mask, so those of you who refuse will not be criminals but you won’t be on America’s team to defeat COVID-19, just the opposite. You are joining the invisible enemy, doing its bidding, keeping it alive and thriving. Aiding or abetting the enemy in times of war were acts of treason. I won’t go that far regarding masks but I do hope that your fellow Americans will begin to see you, mask-less, as a person unwilling to do the simplest thing to contribute to the war effort.
I ask this simple inconvenience of everyone who voted for me and those who didn’t. As America’s president, I am calling each of you to join the battle by simply wearing a mask when social distancing is impossible.
Show your patriotism, wear a red, white and blue mask.
Thank you, goodnight and may God not send you any more weird dreams.”
This dream speech was quite unusual, however because the president giving it was George W. Bush. This, of course, is anachronistic because George W. hasn’t been in the Oval Office for 11 years.
As the Clown awoke from this dream, he felt a sense of pride, a renewed determination to do his part and an appreciation for how hard being a strong leader can be. And, to be honest, a bit wistful for George W. Then, as the fog of sleep completely drifted away, the Clown, much to his horror, realized that it had been a long time since George W. Bush was president and his positive feelings melted away.
The Clown is now expecting that frustrating and troubling dreams will soon return. If the one about Annette Funicello comes back, the Clown is hoping for some better luck with his polka dot clown pants.
Observoid of the Day: Reducing COVID testing doesn’t reduce the cases, it just keeps the number of cases unknown. Duh.