After Friday morning’s news that President Trump and the First Lady had tested positive for COVID-19, The New York Times could hardly suppress an undercurrent of gloating, bolstered by commentary from Democratic activists. Reporter Alexander Burns’ “political memo” made the off-lead story slot on Saturday morning: “Now There’s No Spinning Away Pandemic’s Toll”:
The 2020 election was always going to end like this.
Perhaps not precisely like this. Perhaps not with the president and the first lady contracting the coronavirus, along with the head of the Republican National Committee and members of the White House staff. Perhaps not with the campaign calendar thrown into disarray and the remaining debates in jeopardy.
But if the nature of this October climax was unpredictable, it seemed all but foreordained that the coronavirus pandemic would dominate the campaign to the end….
As a singular force in the country’s political life, the pandemic has resisted Mr. Trump’s efforts to change the subject and quashed the wishful thinking of countless voters who shared his hope it would fade quickly. It has endured through a season of racial justice protests and spasms of vandalism and violence, through the death of a Supreme Court justice and the revelations of Mr. Trump’s personal tax returns and a fiasco of a presidential debate just this week.
But long before Mr. Trump contracted the coronavirus, he had already earned a ruinous verdict from many Americans on his role in addressing the disease. On every subsidiary debate arising from the pandemic — on questions of reopening businesses and schools, implementing mask mandates and social distancing, even on hastening the delivery of a vaccine — polls have found Mr. Trump on the wrong end of public opinion, sometimes by gaping margins.
Amid those gloating, snarky opening graphs, there was also this disgusting screamer: “Mr. Trump has been the world’s loudest critic of prudent pandemic-control policy, and his contracting the disease that he dismissed as a threat even this week is an irony of Sophoclean proportions, whether or not it changes how voters think about him.”
It’s almost as if they lack even the most basic decency to put aside their pettiness. But remember, criticizing the press means you’re putting lives in danger.
Burns didn’t address law and order issues as actual problems, but only as cynical campaign tactics conjured up by Trump (click “expand”):
That dynamic has dragged him down against Mr. Biden even in states where voters approve of Mr. Trump’s handling of the economy, and even in states where they share his hard-line views of crime, immigration and public order — issues that have often helped Mr. Trump excite his political base and, at times, turn the attention of the national news media away from the pandemic.
There were predictions, in late spring, that when the economy began to rebound from rock bottom, Mr. Trump might easily persuade voters to see a partial recovery as a miraculous resurrection. There was downcast analysis among Democrats, when Mr. Trump’s August nominating convention intersected with days of rioting in Kenosha, Wis., that an incendiary law-and-order message would turn the country’s racial rifts to the president’s advantage.
It must be said — as a matter of ritual, as much as anything else — that Mr. Trump’s instincts for political theatrics and racial division, and his determination to hold onto power, make it difficult to discount him entirely even at this late hour, and even as he confronts a personal medical emergency….
Burns concluded with the gross suggestion from Democratic operatives (with a direct quote from Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson) that Trump kind of had it coming, bragging that this will be “a disruptive event than a confirming one, reinforcing the critique they have been delivering all along.”
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