The Big News That’s Not Entirely About Coronavirus

The coronavirus craziness continues, with the Kansas governor shutting down all the public schools for the rest of the year and President Donald Trump wanting to send everyone in the country a check for a thousand dollars, but Tuesday at least gave us something else to write about. There’s still plenty of politics to be played, although for now the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination looks to be over.
Despite everything there were three more state primaries on Tuesday — it was supposed to be four, but Ohio decided to put it off until summer — and front-running former Vice President Joe Biden won them all by landslide-to-comfortable margins, so after Biden’s big wins on “Super Tuesday” that pretty much knocks self-described socialist and last-man-standing Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders out of the race. Biden won big in the populous and delegate-rich states of Illinois and Florida, where Sanders also fared badly last time around against former First Lady and Senator and Secretary of State and presumptive First Woman President “Crooked Hillary Clinton, and the upcoming states don’t look any more promising for Sanders, who didn’t offer any comment on the results.
Even in the age of the coronavirus, and perhaps especially so, that’s worth noting.
Which we figure is bad news for Trump, who so feared Biden’s nomination that he got himself impeached trying to extort dirt from a foreign ally about Biden’s son. Better by far to run against “Crazy” Bernie Sanders and his pie-in-the-sky utopian promises, which make Trump and his own oversold and thus-far underdelivered promises seem relatively sane.
Biden is a boring and often inarticulate fellow, and over a political career that stretches back to the administration of President Richard Nixon he’s not done much for either good or bad. Come November the electorate might well find that an attractive alternative to the undeniably entertaining yet even more inarticulate Trump, whose bull-in-a-China-shop approach to governance so far seems to have exacerbated this coronavirus craziness. Trump is now offering thousand-dollar checks to every American, and billion-dollar bailouts to various big-bucks industries to keep the economy afloat, which his Republican base probably won’t mind, but by November he’ll have a lot of explaining to do to the rest of the country, and Biden will have been out of power and utterly blameless for any of it. He’ll be able to point out that Obama created an agency within the National Security Council to deal with pandemics, and Trump sent it packing, and that none of the pandemics that occurred during the Obama administration led to schools and bars and other essential businesses shutting down.
At this point pretty much the whole country is in a panic about the coronavirus and no one seems more panicked the the President of the United States, and we expect that will last until at least next November’s Election Day, which we cautiously hold out hope will happen. We can’t see any happy ending, but we’ll also hold out hope for the least worst outcome, whatever that is.

— Bud Norman

Seriously, Dude

Oftentimes the biggest problems are best exemplified by the smallest details. Consider the interview that aired on the Fox News network last week, in which former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor was asked if he had changed the White House’s public account of the deadly terrorism that occurred at the American consulate in Benghazi to describe it as a “demonstration” rather than “attack.” Clearly exasperated by the question, Vietor responded “Dude, that was, like, two years ago.
The answer is appalling for a variety of reasons. There’s the shocking insouciance about the deaths of an ambassador and four other Americans who had been betrayed by the government they served, for one thing, and so redolent of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s infamous “What difference, at this point, does it make?” There’s the same apparent sense of ruling=class entitlement, as well, with its arrogant conviction that such pesky questions should not be asked and that no one currently in power should ever be held to account. The unmistakable dishonest is troubling, too, as wo years is not so long that an ordinary person would have forgotten about lying to the American public on a matter of grave national importance. More troubling yet, however, at least to our sensitive years, is Vietor’s use of “dude” and “like.”
For all the dire warnings of imminent civilizational collapse that appear daily in the news, you’ll find nothing quite so alarming as the fact that someone once entrusted with a position on the National Security Council expresses himself in the manner of the Jeff Spicoli character in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” The interview also revealed that Vietor’s role on the National Security Council was high enough that he was in the White House situation room as the events in Benghazi unfolded, and it is hard to imagine him formulating any effective response to the situation that that included the word “dude” or was punctuated at any point by “like.” Serious people equal to such serious situations do not use such language, and it is not wonder that having people who speak that way in positions of responsibility had such deadly results.
Worse yet, the shoddy education that is apparent in Veitor’s spoken words is not all uncommon. Perhaps we should be grateful that at least Vietor didn’t unload the “f=bomb” that is now ubiquitous in conversations, but the Vice President of the United States used that coarse word to mark the occasion of Obamacare being passed into law. The President of the United States has described a respected member of the opposition party’s budget proposal as a “stink burger,” and his Senior Advisor who still assures us of his historic genius “tweets” in 24 or characters or less that the convoluted Obamacare web site is “easy-peasy.” Whatever great ideas these people have, they are somehow incapable of expressing them in plain English.
The degradation of the English language is a serious problem, but the bigger problem is that the ideas being so crudely expressed are crude.

— Bud Norman