Saturday, October 03, 2020

Race for the White House # 92

31 Days Until Election Day

This has been an especially surreal week, to say the least.

I almost relieved to not have to talk as much as I would have otherwise about Tuesday's Presidential debate. It was a low moment in our history and our culture. Both candidates were bad from a stylistic and substantive standpoint. One however towered above the other in terms of rudeness and rendered the whole event shameful. Of course, that was Donald Trump. Joe Biden had a pretty "off" night, and could not but fall into the trap of reacting angrily to Trump at times, but all he had to do was not appear senile. He certainly did not and thus "won" the debate. When one is ahead in the election, that is all that can be hoped for. Trump, fresh off a "blockbuster story" about not having paid taxes for many recent years acted in a way that was disgraceful in terms of interruptions and trying to speak over his opponent when it was not his time. The debate commission has pledged that changes will need to be made if the debates would go on. Should they even go on at this point though, just based on what a clown show and black eye to our democracy the entire Cleveland debacle was to begin with?

A moment must be taken to point out that in 2012, when Democrats were thought to be against the ropes, Joe Biden debated Paul Ryan for the Vice Presidency and at the time acted in what I and many others said was a pretty shameful way in terms of rudeness, dismiveness, and lack of respect for the entire process. This week, the tables were turned. Trump was easily worse, perhaps he took Biden's act and dialed it up to a 15, but let us not kid ourselves about how our politics have descended.

"Will you just shut up man", might perhaps become the new "there you go again."

The debate turned out to not be the big story of the week though. By the end of the week, Donald Trump, the sitting President of the United States would be hospitalized with Covid-19. The First Lady (who had some horribly unflattering remarks on audio leaked which nobody is even thinking about now) also has the virus at the White House. Several others in Trump's orbit, including staffers, Republican Senators, campaign officials, and surrogates have also now tested positive. Nobody knows for sure how Trump was infected with the virus or if he was the one who infected others. At first, suspicion went to top White House aide Hope Hicks. It appears more likely now though that the "superspreader" event was last Saturday's celebration in the White House Rose Garden (and then afterwards inside) of the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court nomination.

Let me be clear on something. While I despise Donald Trump politically and personally, I hope he wil recover from this horrible virus. I would not wish it on anyone. Whatever one thinks about him, he is a father and a human, and also the current President. No other sitting President has been in such imminent danger since Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981. So, I want Trump to get better, just like I want everyone inflicted with this virus, almost all of them better people than him, to get better. I am glad that Joe Biden and Democrat officials are all saying the right things and giving appropriate messages of support, at least publicly. Social media is of course doing what social media does.

I also will not shrink from the opinion that while I want Trump to recover, one cannot help but see the "karma" in this. He has been consistently wrong, dangerously so, on how he has handled this virus and because of that, thousands and thousands of Americans have died when they did not need to. Trump will at least have the best possible medical care. It cannot be forgotten though, that for all his dangerous rallies, his mocking of masks, including how he attacked Biden in the debate, and for not leveling with the people, there is tremendous irony in all of this. Will he learn and seek to make amends? Doubtful. It was not long ago, that Trump said that the virus affected "virtually nobody." Clearly, it can affect anyone and maybe "Virtually Nobody" should become his new Secret Service codename.

There were some dramatic moments on television yesterday as Marine One waited on the White House lawn to airlift Trump to Walter Reed Hospital. He emerged though wearing a suit and a mask with his hair done as usual. A couple of Twitter videos have since been released. Putting aside the crazy "Dave" possibilities of a  body-double, it is good to see that Trump is basically looking and sounding like himself... for better or worse. The 74 year old fast food aficionado and rageaholic does not look to be on death's door. That is clearly a good thing.

There are so many unanswered questions though and inconsistencies in the narrative about this past week in regards to when Trump might have gotten the positive test result and what happened after as well as what his medical condition has been since that time. The White House doctor made things a whole lot more confusing today in a statement in which he seemed to initially indicate that Trump knew he was Covid positive on Wednesday. That was walked back, but if true, it means that Trump, who perhaps was already not feeling well, continued his schedule as usual and went to at least New Jersey for a campaign fundraiser. If this actually happened, and countless others were put at risk of the virus, it is beyond criminal. It also appears that the White House was reluctant to let the public know about any of this, until Hope Hicks' diagnosis was leaked. Trump was on the phone telling Sean Hannity on Thursday night that he and Melania were waiting for results, but he likely already knew by then that he initially tested positive. When was his last negative test? It is said he never took one as required at the debate site and we know that his family and other campaign hangers on refused to wear masks inside the hall as required and waved off a doctor who tried to get them to do so.

Also, there has been a contradiction between the relatively rosy outlook for Trump's situation and recovery laid out publicly by the White House doctor and all the leaks that keep coming from within the Administration. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was even caught today actively leaking "off the record." These sources are saying that things were very bad yesterday and that Trump needed oxygen, etc, and basically that things may be "critical" during the next 48 hours. Frankly though, the videos of Trump going to the hospital and as a patient make it seem like he is reasonably stable. What is the actual truth and what is the greater motivation? The optics of Trump looking like a strong and resilient leader, or a sympathy factor for being sick and perhaps setting up a more dramatic comeback. Some on the far left suggest he is faking this. I find that hard to believe but there are definitely some politics at play. I think it is very possible that this will one day be used as an "excuse" for Trump to explain away his loss.. after all he couldn't campaign for at least two weeks, even as he was "winning bigly" a month before the election. If he wants to go that route, he should drop out now and he can start on the excuse for what looks like the very high possibility of a loss to Biden. Fairly soon though, we are more likely to hear Trump allies somehow suggest that the election be delayed since Trump is forced to be off the "trail." That is not going to happen, even as the latest of Trump Presidential campaign managers Bill Stepien, the heir to a pretty ugly chronology, is sidelined with the virus as well, and it is being reported that Trump campaign staffers are now afraid to report to work.

Joe Biden continues to be a flawed candidate. I cannot believe he was not better prepared in the debate for Trump's antics and was unable to name one law enforcement group or person who was supporting him (maybe he could have named James Comey), but he is ahead. Trump's distasteful appearance at the debate did nothing to change the trajectory of the race. Trump getting hit with the virus and fighting it off may win him some sympathy and admiration on a personal level but I doubt it wins him many sympathy votes. It is mostly a reminder of his hubris and failed leadership and how so much of what he has been saying for months was complete garbage. This also means, that despite all the efforts of Trump to change the topic to basically anything else, Coronavirus will be the major story of this race. However, in this era, one never knows what might happen the next day.

During the debate which is now more of an afterthought, Trump danced around the opportunity to denounce white supremacists or potentially violent groups such as the "Proud Boys." Instead, he curiously suggested they "stand back and stand by."

As long as the President remains hospitalized with a virus that has killed so many, during the final month of a campaign, America will remain on stand by and hopefully everything will work out. It is what it is


Post a Comment

<< Home