Bob McKinney

Were you aware, in the middle of this pandemic quarantine (it’s been a year now, hasn’t it?), other news happens?

In what would have during normal circumstances been the lead story on all the network news broadcasts last week, Bernie Sanders quietly removed himself from the race for the Democratic nomination for president.

My wife and I have discussed the possibility of Bernie having possibly fared better if the arrival of the coronavirus in the U.S. had happened a few months earlier. After all, he’s an unabashed democratic socialist whose entire platform is built on how the government can and should help the citizenry far more than happens now.

During what is arguably the biggest insertion of government into our personal lives in history, his ideas might have been received more favorably by more voters had the early primaries, when Bernie was strong, coincided with the early days of COVID-19.  

But that’s a discussion for another day, and we’ll never know.

The stage is now set for former Vice President Joe Biden to face incumbent Donald Trump in November.

But we’ve scarcely time to address that right now. For most of us, with less than seven months to go until the election, it’s the lowest priority on the list of topics we’re thinking about – certainly not in the same category as when we might run out of toilet paper or when sports will return to TV.

Challenger Biden manages to put some things out there from his basement where he’s locked down, but he’s not exactly getting a lot of airtime.

And President Trump continues to deal with the matter that will, without a doubt, define either his first or only term as president.

Although not an accurate comparison, the current crisis has caused me to think back on President Jimmy Carter and the Americans held hostage in Iran.

Although the economy was in a state of disrepair in 1979 when Ronald Reagan came forward to challenge the Democratic incumbent, providing plenty of campaign ammunition, it was the situation with the hostages – released from captivity the day Carter left office and Reagan was inaugurated -- that dogged Carter throughout the time he was campaigning for his second term.

It was a contributing factor, if not the contributing factor, in his loss to Reagan.

And Trump’s handling of the pandemic is likely to be the central issue in his case for a second term.

But what is all of that going to look like? Will either party be able to have their usual made-for-TV convention where the nominee comes on stage with music playing and thousands of balloons falling from the ceiling, all in front of the adoring party delegates?

Or will the parties’ big parties have to be virtual, likely denying each organization the momentum that takes them into the key months of the campaign?

Biden has promised to name a woman as his running mate. Ordinarily that announcement would come with fanfare and pageantry, as it did when Walter Mondale tapped Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and John McCain picked Sarah Palin for the second position in 2008.

It’s hard to imagine that kind of event happening over Zoom. On the other hand, we have learned just how much can happen that way. I suppose a split screen of Biden and (insert your favorite potential female running mate here), in different locations, is not outside the realm of possibility.

And will Trump even have time to go to a convention or stage a campaign if, as a country, we’re still dealing with the coronavirus? Or, should the curve flatten and we get to return to some semblance of normal life by early summer, will he make his success (by his estimation) in navigating through this unprecedented worldwide emergency a central campaign theme?

The questions far outnumber the answers.

As for the level of interest, what was it I was writing about?

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at


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