From voting rights to vaccinations, ever since we Americans have been forced to stare at the split-screen evolution of our political schizophrenia, we have always known that our new reality leads us to just one core question.
Our problem is that we not only know The Question, but we also know The Answer.
Today we will be looking at ways we can convert our new split-screen reality into a power-tool of manipulation. Then perhaps we can use it to save thousands of lives by finally getting America out of the pandemic mess in which the COVID-19 Delta variant seems to be surging out of control among the half of us who have refused to be vaccinated. Government experts say that 99 percent of those currently contracting coronavirus were unvaccinated. And polls show most of those were Republicans who voted for Trump. (Sticky Note goes here; we’ll get to it soon.)
Last Tuesday, in Philadelphia, President Joe Biden asked, quite publicly and powerfully, The Question in a way it hadn’t been asked so bluntly before. He asked it in a context that was about You-Know-Who’s determination to destroy our democracy with a firehose of feckless, fact-less lies to convince history that he didn’t really lose the 2020 election that he definitely lost.
Beginning slowly and most powerfully, Biden began by slowly but most powerfully setting up The Question: “You don’t call facts ‘fake’ and then try to bring down the American experiment just because you’re unhappy. … That’s not statesmanship; that’s selfishness. … It suppresses. It subjugates.” Then he asked it:
“Have you no shame?”
Our problem – and our president’s problem – is, of course, that we not only know The Question, but we also know The Answer as it applies to You-Know-Who. He has no shame. Never has. Never will. That cannot be altered or erased. But perhaps this self-evident truth can be used to help finally conquer COVID-19, if done just right.
(Hint: If we do it right, Biden may be able to manipulate his predecessor with a success achieved, time and again, by a certain former KGB manipulator who long ago figured out how he could manipulate our former president to end their summit by disavowing his own CIA and saying he trusted, even more, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin!)
Two days before Biden spoke in Philadelphia, Donald Trump ventured out of his Mar-a-Lago Elba to woo his die-hard faithful (and as COVID-19’s dreaded Delta variant surges, that seems their sad but likeliest prospect) at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas. Trump sprayed them with his firehose of lies to convince history he wasn’t the 2020 election loser, that it was all rigged. Before Trump got there, the crowd actually cheered lustily when a speaker bragged that the federal government experts failed to achieve the vaccination totals they expected.
Somehow saving lives has become a red-blue/left-right thing in the sick-mindedness of TrumpWorld. Yet when Trump spoke, he bragged at length about how his Operation Warp Speed had achieved three vaccines “to end the pandemic in record time.” This past spring, Trump bragged (perhaps jokingly) to a gathering of hundreds of donors he invited to Mar-a-Lago that he not only deserved credit for the vaccines, but he wants the coronavirus vaccine to be named: “Trumpcine.” (Now check out our Sticky Note.)
On the matter of manipulating his predecessor, Biden needs to understand that he holds all the aces. He just needs to lead his Trump card. Try hard to imagine this: Biden announces that indeed his predecessor’s Operation Warp Speed produced those three vaccines that have saved millions of lives in record time. Then, Biden really announces that from now on he’ll be calling all three the “Trump Vaccines.” (Whoa! The thunder of millions of minds boggling is ear-splitting! But stay the course.)
And sailing his bipartisanship through these uncharted waters, imagine Biden asking his predecessor, who, after all, festoons his name in neon and gold atop edifices around the planet, to deep-six politics and campaign coast-to-coast to help convince Trump’s true-believers to safeguard themselves and their loved ones by being vaccinated by a lifesaving Trump Vaccine. It would be Trump’s one and only chance to salvage his legacy. It would be Biden’s best chance to save Americans from dying.
Even in that most powerful, forcefully worded denunciation of the Trump Republicans’ attacks on our democracy’s voting rights, Biden also concluded by saying:
“This isn’t about Democrats and Republicans; it’s literally about who we are as Americans. It’s that basic. It’s about the kind of country we want today, the kind of country we want for our children and grandchildren tomorrow. And quite frankly, the whole world is watching.”
Martin Schram, an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service, is a veteran Washington journalist, author and TV documentary executive. Readers may send him email at email@example.com.