This time Trump has gone too far.
He has made fun of Carly Fiorina’s face and sneered at Mexicans, aiming at the angry white male. Now he has taken on John Kerry for committing the federal crime of riding a bicycle as a septuagenarian.
“They have no respect for our president, they have no respect for John Kerry, who falls off bicycles at 73 in the middle of a negotiation that’s very important,” Trump said in August. He paraphrased it Monday night, again criticizing the Iran nuclear treaty.
Of course, Trump exaggerated Kerry’s age. Said he was 73. In fact, Kerry is 71. Take it from a far lesser cyclist who tumbled on sand, every year counts while pedaling uphill
More to the point, Trump has once again pandered to the know-nothing set, this time in Dallas, making fun of Kerry’s love of cycling – the high-tech bike, the full outfit, the challenge of a Tour--level mountain in Switzerland.
Trump perhaps knows this is something thousands of men and women do daily in Europe and elsewhere, imitating the great cyclists on the hardest hills they can find. But he panders to the base.
Classic Donald. He said the Secretary of State was riding in a race. In fact, Kerry was taking on a Tour incline in May, but with his own State Department motorcade, which rushed to his help when he struck a curb and toppled, fracturing his leg.
Yes, the injury was serious enough to warrant surgery and care in New York. Trump senses it will work as part of his shtick about Kerry.
In his rally in Dallas, Trump once again imitated Kerry’s return to work. Simulating a man walking with crutches, he said, “The people from Iran say, ‘What a schmuck.’”
This is a common theme with Trump – the queasiness with anything less than a perfect 10. Trump seems pathologically uncomfortable with human frailty. What must he think of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who ran a country in terrible times, limited by polio?
The fear of frailty, this discomfort with complexity, accompanies him on national television, babbling about himself -- the Reality Show Host as Candidate, for goodness’ sakes.
Undoubtedly, Kerry was inconvenienced by his accident, but there are such things as telephones and cables and the Internet. We have seen footage of Kerry with his Russian and Iranian counterparts. The body language tells me they do not consider him a schmuck, with or without crutches.
Kerry also speaks French fluently, undoubtedly a drawback to Trump’s base, maybe even to Trump himself. French was a skill Mitt Romney tried to hide during his stiff race in 2012. Why would the United States want a worldly President or Secretary, anyway, when the current rage seems to be a carnival clown, who cannot even get ages right.
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.