Another week, another bout of insomnia, another debate. And good Lord almighty, what a week it’s been for President Trump and his inner circle.
I’m not entirely sure why I’m avoiding writing about British politics at the moment. Perhaps it’s because the weather’s changed and the air feels quite ominous. Perhaps it’s because the coronavirus fiasco is almost too much to bear when it’s on your doorstep.
But I think it’s because, in the US, the wind does seem to be starting to blow in a different direction. From the polling statistics, Joe Biden holds a not-insignificant lead over Captain Tangerine, and polling has become far more advanced since the charmingly-naïve days of predicting clear victories for both Clinton and Remain. It seems as though the American people are starting to see Trump for what he is. He has undoubtedly put a shot in the arm of the US economy, but even that will probably turn out to be bleach, as he’s famously keen to explore.
But he is, and remains, a white-supremacist apologist, a bigot, and a blabbermouthed sack of orange pulp topped with labradoodle fluff. One who’s managed to infect the entire White House with coronavirus too, it seems.
And don’t get me wrong, Joe Biden is about as inspiring a candidate as a plate of granola without the milk (and he looks a bit like a plate of granola without the milk, too). But last night’s debate saw Kamala Harris, a female, mixed-race, second-generation immigrant, take to the debating stand as his candidate for VP.
Given that Biden is 77, the choice of VP has never been more important. Thankfully, Harris came across as compassionate, likeable and competent in a debate that lacked all of the soul-crushing awfulness of last week’s, but lacked much in the way of anything, too.
Softly, Softly, Catchy Trumpy
It was clear from the get-go that the VP debate was going to have an extremely different tone to last week’s, which was less Presidential Debate than “fly-on-the-wall footage of two confused men in a geriatric ward throwing custard at one another.” Mike Pence is many things (such as anti-LGBT rights, anti-abortion, and anti-free healthcare, lol), but he is not Donald Trump. He made a point of showing respect to Harris, saying it was a “privilege” to be debating with her and, besides talking for far too long, showed little of the braggadocio of his President.
The Repulican press team had probably briefed him with four words: Don’t be like (f***ing) Trump.
As such, voices were measured and rules largely respected, but both did come out swinging. Harris called Trump’s handling of the coronavirus “the greatest failure of any presidential administration” in history. Pence said that the Democrats insinuation that the US was institutionally racist was “a great insult”.
Both sides avoided questions in less-than-convincing style, too. For instance, both refused to elaborate on any plans their parties had for succession, should either elderly Presidential candidate fall ill. Given the fact that the leader of the free world had been recently hospitalised, this seems like an appropriate time to discuss the matter.
But Pence swerved the question, and Harris used the opportunity to talk about her upbringing and how proud she was to be there. Not exactly illuminating.
But, in the end, it was what it was always going to be – a slightly boring, cagey debate where both sides stuck to the script and did or said little to set the world on fire. Pence claimed that the President had been open and transparent about the virus from day one, and that it was simply a matter of chance that he contracted it himself, drawing incredulous chuckles from Harris. Harris defended her time as being attorney general of California, during which time racial profiling actually increased under her watch.
Everything was as expected, really. And, dear reader, I’m not going to lie to you – at around 3am, I nodded off.
I wish I hadn’t, because I missed the birth of a new celebrity.
Mike Pence, at one point in the debate, attracted a visitor. A small, black fly.
These little critters usually only hang around corpses and actual excrement, so I will let you draw your own conclusions about Pence from there.
As you can imagine, the fly became an overnight superstar. Its Twitter page took off:
Investigative reporters realised that this fly had been in the democratic ointment before:
And, hot off the back of last week’s “Will You Shut Up, Man” t-shirts, the Biden campaign seized the opportunity to claim allegiance to the Muscoidean Machiavelli:
We now live in a world where two of the most important people in world politics are on-stage, debating one another, and the thing that gets people really talking is a common housefly.
Whoever wins the next election, don’t think that we don’t deserve them. We all do.
Trump Stakes Presidency On Show Of Strength
Look, I can’t really not talk about what happened last week. Trump, and his ever-loving wife Melania, both contracted COVID-19. Trump was taken to a military hospital, where he was given an experimental cocktail of drugs and steroids.
The comparisons with our own golden-haired gas-bag can’t be ignored – two populist leaders, for whom shows of strength are everything, both hospitalised as a result of their own bravado. Many of Johnson’s inner sanctum also had to isolate (including, of course, Bernard Castle and his old pal Dom), but the White House appears to be an all-out coronavirus hive.
It is widely believed that the virus spread at an event held in the Rose Garden celebrating Trump’s not-illegal-but-still-a-dick-move nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Not long after, Trump and Melania fell ill, as have a huge number of his wider entourage. While Trump was in hospital, his doctor and White House staffers repeatedly gave mixed messages about the President’s health. Some said that he was in very bad shape while others said he was basically already better, and his doctor gave conflicting timelines of Trump’s illness and diagnosis.
Essentially, with these clowns in charge, it’s not unreasonable to assume that Trump thought he probably had coronavirus and just cracked on anyway, infecting countless others around him.
What really took the biscuit, however, was his drive-by stunt. Still highly infectious and not even remotely recovered, Trump got in the back seat of an armoured limo and drove around the front of the hospital, waving at his supporters who had gathered out front to show solidarity.
This drew huge criticism from commentators across the entire political spectrum, not least because some poor souls from his security team had to be locked in an airtight vehicle with him. While this would be bad enough on another day, (I imagine he emenates a smell of burger farts and Trump-brand aftershave) Trump was still highly infectious. He essentially guaranteed these staffers would get the virus, or at the very least would have to self-isolate to prevent themselves from spreading it to others.
This wilful lack of compassion for his own employees is just the perfect demonstration of the type of man that Trump is – entitled, self-centred and unbelievably insecure. That he felt the need to endanger the lives of his own men for a press stunt is reprehensible.
But still. At least now the coronavirus has had a look at what it’s like to infect the very worst of humanity. Maybe it’ll rethink its strategy and just piss off.
Because, at this stage, I think that’s one thing we can all agree on – the coronavirus can absolutely do one.