As is often the case, I’m writing about something that will be outdated by the time you read it.
But in the presidential race taking place during this bizarre year that continues to be a gift that keeps on giving, things change minute by minute.
Postmortem on the first presidential debate, which was nothing short of a national embarrassment, was barely getting started before the announcement from President Trump (on Twitter, of course) that he and the first lady had tested positive for COVID.
For a moment in time, we had a pause from the vitriol as political allies and opponents alike expressed their concern, extending good wishes to President and Mrs. Trump.
But it was, in fact, only a moment. As the weekend began, we watched as Trump was taken by helicopter from the White House to Walter Reed Hospital. We watched his videos and read his tweets.
We listened to contradictory and misleading information from his doctor. And late Sunday we watched him take a joy ride/victory lap while he was still hospitalized, waving to supporters outside the hospital.
On Monday evening the helicopter took him back to the White House, even as reports of his condition were still cryptic. He descended from the helicopter and walked up the stairs to the White House residential quarters. Before walking in, he stripped his mask from his face and made yet another gesture of power.
He released another video shortly after that, telling us not to be afraid of COVID, and to not let it dominate our lives.
At that point, the gloves came back off. The Trump detractors had had enough.
By then we had learned a number of people attending a Rose Garden ceremony, in which Trump had announced his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, had tested positive for COVID.
Similar to the night of his RNC acceptance speech on the White House lawn, where supporters sat shoulder to shoulder, mostly unmasked, onlookers at the nomination ceremony were much the same. Footage showed hugs and handshakes.
So in their arsenal of offenses committed by this incumbent candidate, his critics now not only have his mishandling, in their view, of the pandemic, but the callous way he has conducted himself in the midst of it. After being diagnosed himself, he put others in danger without a thought before telling us not to be afraid.
The tongues are once again wagging, and the grace extended was brief.
As I write this, it’s the day after the vice-presidential debate, a much more civil and watchable affair than the presidential face-off, but one that hardly could have changed the minds of any undecided voters. Kamala Harris and Mike Pence each had a mission, and each clearly had a memorized script, which they managed to work in even if their narratives had little to do with a question asked by debate moderator Susan Page.
I lost count of how many times each of them, when asked a question by Page, simply ignored it and talked about something else.
Although I’ve seen more criticism of Pence for doing this, I would submit Harris was just as guilty. There was not one question about her birth or her upbringing, but in response to a question about whether she and Biden had discussed a contingency plan in the event a health event prevented him from serving, she managed to recite a condensed version of her life story, beginning with her being born to an immigrant.
(To be fair, when Pence responded to the same question about discussing a contingency plan with Trump, he criticized the Obama administration’s handling of the 2009 swine flu.)
The comic relief of the night occurred when a fly perched itself on the top of Pence’s white hair for a little more than two minutes. Social media had a field day with that one.
Lord knows comic relief is welcome these days.
Again, this will be old news (and it could have changed) by the time it’s in front of you, but the latest news in the race is that President Trump says he will not participate in the next debate scheduled for Oct. 15. With the Commission on Presidential Debates changing it to a virtual format, Trump says it would be a waste of his time.
And so it continues, and so it will, right up until this is mercifully over on Nov. 3.
But we all know it might not really be over that day. With record numbers of mail-in votes (including mine) and the allegations of fraud already firmly entrenched in the conversation, a contested election that goes to the courts is highly likely.
So get ready. The year 2020 could get stranger still.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected].