Katy Burns: Two days in August

  • Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden stands at left as his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Del., on Thursday. AP

Monitor columnist
Published: 8/16/2020 6:40:15 AM

If you want to know how our two major political parties are faring in this summer of coronavirus and attendant financial calamity, you need only look to last Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Democratic gubernatorial nominee-to-be Joe Biden announced that the party’s fall ticket was complete and ready to hit the campaign trail. California Sen. Kamala Harris would be his running mate in November.

Despite a little sniping from the party’s nether reaches, Harris – who was the San Francisco district attorney and then spent six years as the Golden State’s attorney general before being elected to the Senate in November 2016 – was a widely praised choice.

She’s the first woman of color on a major party’s presidential ticket – her mother was an immigrant from India and her father from Jamaica – and at 55 she’s essentially a generation younger than Biden, which should reassure voters who worry about Biden’s age. Should he be elected, he’d be 78 at his inauguration.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that Donald Trump is no spring chicken. In 2017 he was the oldest president ever inaugurated for a first term, and if re-elected, he would be 74, going on 75, on Inauguration Day 2021. Either way, we’ll have the oldest president in American history.

On Wednesday, the Democratic pair presented themselves to the nation – well, as much as they could in this era of coronavirus isolation. In what turned out to be part of a flag-bedecked high school auditorium in Delaware, a dapper and smiling Biden strode to the microphone.

He spoke warmly of Harris, in particular of his much-loved late son Beau’s friendship with Kamala when the two younger people were attorneys general of their respective states, Delaware and California.

He made it plain that disagreements they might have had as rival candidates for the Democratic nomination were things of the past, and he spoke of her readiness to step into the presidential job if circumstances required it. He even declared her and her husband and children “honorary Bidens,” his highest accolade.

Harris, wreathed in a 1,000-watt smile, made her admiration of Biden equally plain.

And then she showed her trial lawyer’s chops with a pointed and precise critique of Trump and his many deficiencies in the leadership department, not the least of which has been his profound mishandling of the coronavirus crisis, which has cost close to 170,000 Americans their lives and sickened at least 5 million with no end to the carnage in sight.

But if the verdict on the current president was severe, even downright harsh, the presentation was civil, the behavior of the two candidates downright . . . well, presidential!

On the other side of the political aisle, things weren’t going so swimmingly. On Tuesday – the same day Joe Biden announced his choice of Kamala Harris – one Marjorie Taylor Greene won the Republican nomination for a congressional seat in deepest Georgia, a win tantamount to election.

But she was far from just a garden variety Republican. Greene is an avid adherent to QAnon – led by a mysterious entity dubbed “Q” – a decidedly dicey online group promoting the bizarre theory that there is a cabal of deep-state saboteurs, primarily Democrats, who worship Satan and traffic helpless children for sex.

It was reading QAnon’s crackpot conspiracy theories a few years ago that led a deluded man from North Carolina to hop in his pickup and drive north to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., to rescue children he believed were being held in the shop’s basement by a group of pedophiles led by Hillary Clinton.

The delusional guy was taken into custody after he fired his rifle in the restaurant a few times. No one was injured.

There were no children. There was, in fact, no basement.

Greene, though, doesn’t let this sort of thing stand in her way. She has also suggested that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed in government, claimed Black people are held as slaves by the Democratic Party, called George Soros – a multibillionaire Jewish philanthropist and political donor – a Nazi, and said that were she Black she’d be “proud” to see a Confederate monument because it would symbolize the progress made since the 1860s.

None of this bothers Trump. It happens that QAnon also views Trump as a messianic figure fighting the so-called deep state and that he alone can be trusted. That’s enough for our president, apparently.

On Wednesday he congratulated Marjorie Taylor Greene on her “big win” and praised her as a “future Republican Star” who was “strong on everything and never gives up – a real WINNER!”

This was just after he called Harris not only “nasty,” his favorite put-down for women in particular, but “extraordinarily nasty,” said with a sneer.

And this was while the American coronavirus fatality figure continues to climb inexorably and the American economy continues to sink to near-Depression level numbers.

A lot of things could happen by Nov. 3, Election Day. And it would be foolish to draw any hard conclusion from two days in August.
But . . .

(“Monitor” columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)

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