Almost everyone, no matter his political coloration, has been predicting that the presidential election would be close. I was thinking of writing a column in the next few days arguing against this conventional position. I am no Nate Silver, psephologist to the stars, but the more I looked around, the more it seemed to me that President Trump was going to win handsomely. I was thinking he would take all the states he took last time, with the possible exception of Wisconsin (10 electoral votes). Further, it seemed to me that he had a good chance to pick up Nevada (6 votes), Minnesota (10) and New Hampshire (4). I even thought that Colorado (9 votes) and Virginia (13) might be in play.
The President’s announcement earlier today that he and Melania had tested positive for the Chinese flu has made me pause to reconsider that prognostication.
One of the reasons I was so upbeat in my psephological prophecy was the vigor of the President’s campaign. Notwithstanding the restrictions imposed on public gatherings by our latest Chinese import, his team has devised and robust strategy for him to campaign safely and effectively. His rallies are outdoors, usually involve Air Force One as an elegant prop, and the draw large and enthusiastic crowds.
But wait, how can I say that these rallies are safe when the President has just tested positive for COVID? I won’t give you a lecture about the difference between post hoc and propter hoc but will merely observe that we have no idea from where the President was exposed to the virus.
Naturally, the left is having none of. The Los Angeles Times, for example, wheeled into print with an editorial gleefully lambasting the President for his ‘recklessness’ (in fact ‘deadly, foolish recklessness’).
Moreover, we do not know whether he will sicken from the exposure. The vast majority of people who test positive are asymptomatic, many more experience on mild symptoms.
Some, alas, are not so lucky, though between last winter, when the disease first appeared in the US, and now, great strides have been made in the development of effective therapeutics.
Naturally, everyone, of whatever political stripe, immediately put partisan animosity to one in order to wish the President and First Lady of the United States a speedy and complete deliverance from the virus.
Just kidding. The left has acted with stunning (though to be frank, not unexpected) viciousness. The blog Legal Insurrection posted a few specimen expostulations. One charmer wrote that ‘I hope he suffers through this and dies as he’s losing on election night.’ NeverTrump stalwart Rick Wilson offered this: ‘Heard inside the White House: “Alexa, order a gallon of bleach and an IV.”’ Indeed, the Twitterverse was ablaze with vile imaginings. To his credit, Joe Biden has bucked this disgusting trend, openly praying for the Trumps’ ‘swift recovery’.
What does it all mean? We do not know yet. The President is 74. Although in good overall health, his age may make him more vulnerable to the the virus.
His announcement revealing that he had tested positive for the virus noted that he was beginning a period of quarantine. We do not know for certain how long it will last. The usual period is 14 days. I was told that there would be no math, but if he is required to quarantine for that long that if my calculations are right he should be available of October 15, the date scheduled for the next debate.
I have no doubt the the Dems will endeavor to scotch the remaining two debates and that they will also do whatever the can to prevent the President with carrying on with his outdoor rallies.
But to return to my opening prognostication: if, as I hope and expect, the President emerges quickly from quarantine the no worse for wear, I am sticking with that upbeat prediction, indeed, I make it with greater confidence. I suspect his ordeal will fire even greater admiration and enthusiasm among his fans.
That is, I know, a big ‘if’. The year 2020 has been an annus horribilis so far, and we still have three months to go.
So in addition to that conditional predication, I will note that Tuesday was Michaelmas, the feast of St Michael, the angel who is mentioned most often in the Bible. In recent years, the Catholic Mass in the US has concluded with a prayer to St Michael. I have a special edition right here with me: ‘defende nos in proelio’, it asks, ‘defend us in battle’. ‘Contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidum’: ‘be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil’.
I approve of the martial spirit, the resoluteness the prayer communicates, even if the next bit — ‘Bidenem aliosque spiritus malignos qui ad perditionem pervagantur in mundo’ — ends with an extreme imperative that, in these emollient times, we must deem inapplicable to earthly actors (‘in infernum detrude’).
The left is in a paroxysm of delight over the President’s diagnosis. His fighting spirit, like that of St Michael, may make them rue their Schadenfreude. I certainly hope it will.