In 2020 things seemed to have moved at the speed of light, making it so hard to keep up. Days have felt like hours, as big event after big event has kept coming at us. But if for most of 2020 days have felt like hours, the past two weeks those days have felt like mere seconds. It’s amazing to think of all of the things that have happened in these past two weeks, and even the last week since American President Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19.
We’ve been sent down some strange rabbit holes since that fact came to light, which has forced people and institutions to react to the fact that he has this disease and is still contagious. It’s forced many to ask some questions they never thought they’d ask and take steps that they’ve never need to take. Just last night we saw the sight of a Vice-Presidential debate with the candidates separated by plexiglass, a direct response to COVID. But this morning that has been knocked up a few levels with a surprising piece of news:
2020 just keeps delivering doesn’t it? After everything that’s happened in this year, during this pandemic, a “Zoom Presidential Debate” feels as on-brand as it is fitting. After what we saw in the first debate last week and with Trump’s COVID positive diagnosis, how else could you seriously run a debate safely in person, especially a town hall debate like this next one is supposed to be? Put bluntly, you can’t.
There is no way to pull this off safely in person. So when faced with the choice of something or nothing, the commission that runs debates in the US chose something because while that something is less than ideal, debates are important to help inform voters. That is decision of a body made up of mature, responsible adults who are making the best of a crappy situation. In contrast to that, we got the following responses from Donald Trump:
I know that many people online and in the media are making jokes about the effects on Trump’s COVID treatment of steroids and experimental drugs on the state of his mental health, but when you see stuff like that it’s hard not to join in the parade. Seriously, that’s the stuff of deranged narcissists. It’s nothing new to see from Trump yet in this serious moment, instead of seeing that impulse tamped down, it’s been cranked up way past 11. After he recklessly put more people’s health at risk, all for his own political benefit (real or assumed), he’s doubling down again with this crap. He’s clearly run out of f*cks, if he ever had any to give to begin with.
What makes it even worse is clear Trump’s inhabitance in an alternate reality, sane or otherwise. The other day this guy said he’s probably immune to COVID now, while he’s still contagious and exposing others and wants to get back out on the road to expose even more people. He actually said he didn’t think he needed medication to beat COVID, which is just nutty. Trump is acting like he’s a licensed broker of COVID and he’s getting a commission for every new COVID case he creates. Instead of following public health measures, even when he’s sick, he’s doing the polar opposite doing everything he apparently can to spread this damn thing.
But if any of those Trump comments are true (which they aren’t), it’s the one about this move around the debate being about “trying to protect Biden”. That’s partially right, but not for the reasons why Trump wants to admit. The debate commission is trying to protect Joe Biden, along with the debate moderator, the everyday citizens who were supposed to ask questions, the audience, the workers at the venue and everyone else they might come in contact with during that debate next week. They’re trying to protect them from COVID-19, the disease that’s ravaging the country he leads, but not from debating Trump.
Biden has said he’s showing up for the virtual debate because he’s not afraid to debate Trump. In fact it’s Trump who’s now saying he won’t do it unless he gets his way, unless he gets the chance to put more innocent people at risk of infection, and for what? All so he can ignore debate rules again? Constantly interrupt Biden and the moderator, not letting them get a word in edgewise whenever they try to utter a syllable? So Trump can somehow dismiss reality and the concerns of actual voters right in front of him? He can still do all of that (which no one can apparently stop him from doing) during a virtual debate. Yet instead he’s ignoring all of that, insisting on something that’s simply not safe.
Donald Trump is sick, physically ill on top of whatever mental and emotional illnesses he’s long suffered from. By being sick with COVID, he can easily make others ill, which he clearly is:
Enough is enough with this crap, seriously. Is doing a virtual debate ideal? Hell no, but we’re in the age of the unideal. This is an extraordinary circumstance that requires extraordinary steps, which the presidential debate commission deserves credit for taking. If Donald Trump can’t get that through his steroid-addled mind in this moment, we can’t control that. But thankfully some of the adults in the room are stepping forward and acting. If that means that toddler who currently occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue takes his toys and goes home, so be it. But that’s on him and makes him look weak and ungracious, like most wannabe strong men who pout when they don’t get there way.