Wednesday’s New York Times featured reporter Matt Flegenheimer's 1,200-word anti-Trump screed disguised as a “news analysis”: “Is Our Most Important Election Ahead, or Is It Behind Us?” It began:
Politics runs on superlative: the best plan, the biggest rally, the most votes.
And one trope has proved most enduring of all, repeated each campaign season with well-practiced conviction.
He quoted various Democratic candidates calling 2020 “the most important election” of our lives: “What if the most important election of our lifetimes happened already?”
Flegenheimer laid all the blame for the coronavirus response (in our 50-state system of government) on Trump:
This is the grim diagnosis now among some opponents of President Trump, who see any hopeful predictions of the past -- that the job might change him, that one term is not so long, that perhaps presidents do not matter all that much anyway -- collapsing beneath the weight of a crisis whose costs are too bleak to bear.
....It can feel unlikely that any choice in 2020 will be as consequential as the fact that he won in the first place.
Flegenheimer suggested the pandemic has brought home Trump's true treachery.
Recent weeks have at once exposed the messiness of the federal virus response and the consistency of Mr. Trump’s rampaging leadership instincts, delivering a moment that has at last closed the gap between the permanent chaos of his White House, a once-remote sideshow for many Americans, and the daily upheaval in their own lives.
“What do you have to lose?” Mr. Trump famously asked black voters in 2016, suggesting he was a risk worth taking. He has repeated the question more recently in a new context: to encourage stricken citizens, in defiance of expert opinion, to try an anti-malarial drug to combat the coronavirus.
Actually, the jury’s still out on hydroxychloroquine, though small studies have shown encouraging results. But this reporter has a manifesto to write.
Of course, the answer to Mr. Trump’s initial prompt has always been evident to most Democrats. At stake were health care plans, immigration policies, a generation of court seats and now, they say, many lives that would not have been lost to the coronavirus under more capable executive stewardship.
After criticizing Joe Biden for downplaying how disruptive Trump has been, Flegenheimer moved on to an objective commentator, left-wing Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich:
“The striking thing about the first term is how much damage he was able to inflict,” said Robert Reich, a former labor secretary under Bill Clinton who endorsed Mr. Sanders in the primary. “At the margin, he probably could do more with two terms, and I wouldn’t wish that on this nation. But he’s already done a huge amount.”
Before the crisis, Flegenheimer blamed Trump for having “scrambled Americans’ grasp of time and memory.” His March 25 “campaign memo” pondered paranoically, “With Political Calendar In Flux, Can We Expect An Election in November?” He cited “Mr. Trump’s attacks on democratic norms and institutions during his time in office.”