We are far from the destination, but the return to normalcy has begun—and so have the normal games presidents play.
Donald Trump said many times that COVID-19 would just “disappear,” as if it were so much fake news ginned up to help Democrats. At one campaign stop, he railed, “COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID. … On Nov. 4, you won’t hear about it anymore.”
Of course, he was wrong about the disease simply vanishing. More than 420,000 Americans have died of COVID-19—surpassing the number of U.S. soldiers who died in combat in both world wars and the Vietnam War combined. (That stark figure is 392,393, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.) And just because the spin from the newly installed Joe Biden White House isn’t as remotely egregious or reality-defying as what many of us became accustomed to over the last four years, “better than Trump” isn’t a standard worth bragging about.
Every new administration likes to reset political expectations. Staff members arrive at their new offices, look at the books and declare, “Dear Lord! It’s so much worse than we ever imagined.” Normally, the calamity being discovered is economic. This time it’s the pandemic.