Given that it is a presidential election year, it does not come as a surprise that there are many news events and issues that would serve as good subjects of a political column.
What has been a surprise is that there are so many things happening in the world right now that it scarcely does it justice to call this a target-rich environment for people providing political commentary. This column would surpass its word limit if the prominent issues of the day were simply listed, much less if anything remotely resembling insightful analysis were provided.
At the risk of being reductive, it is often beneficial to view the endless stream of incidents and controversies through the lens of the presidential election.
For better or worse, that tends to happen, anyway, as Election Day draws near. There is an added benefit this cycle, however. That's because many of the things making this period in time so interesting - for lack of a better word - are a direct result of the campaign, the leadership coming from the White House, or, more accurately, the lack of it.
Yes, there is a pandemic taking place. It is not the president's fault, but the failure of our country to contain and control the virus stems directly from his inaction and having prioritized public relations over public health. More frustratingly, he has actively disseminated misinformation and tried to create the impression that not wearing a mask is manly and that resisting all suggestions and mandates to wear one is patriotic. Even after contracting the virus, there have been no lessons learned by the president, and no new perspectives gained from his experience. The unfortunate situation was viewed as an opportunity to try to appear tough, durable, and strong.
The Trump campaign has employed a deliberate strategy to undermine confidence in the election, refusing to say whether he would accept the results. A much-needed stimulus package is being pursued one minute, but negotiations are cancelled by the president in a tweet in the next.
The governor of Michigan is reported to have been the target of a plot to kidnap and assassinate her. The president attacks her. Just like the status on-again, off-again stimulus negotiations, the attack came via Twitter - the same platform he used to foment the plot in the first place by posting things like, "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!"
That's not to mention a ridiculous and embarrassing debate performance; declining to take part in the second scheduled debate when it was changed to a virtual format due his coronavirus infection; refusing to say when his last negative COVID test was; sending his doctors out to issue vague and misleading statements about his health; the first lady saying on tape that she hates Christmas; his only having paid $750 in federal taxes in 2016; a controversial Supreme Court nominee being hypocritically rushed through the confirmation process; and there having been a superspreader event held at the White House to celebrate the occasion. I think, though I cannot be sure, that is everything that passes as newsworthy these days.
President Trump is in electoral trouble. It is not out of the realm of possibility that he could change that. But he is running out of time to do so. If his past behavior is any indication, he does not have the capacity to do so. Even though many of the headwinds he faces in his attempt to get reelected are not of his own making, some of them are egregiously so. His poor handling of both kinds is hurting him in the polls.
Jason Nichols is District 2 Democratic Party chair, an instructor of political science at Northeastern State University, and former mayor of Tahlequah.