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We're in the Thick of the Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak...And Joe Biden Is AWOL

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Paul Vernon

He's not president, but he could be. He's going to be the 2020 Democratic nominee, and he's nowhere to be found as the country fights this Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. Former Vice President Joe Biden has gone into the bunker. Partially, it's due to the fact that his presidential campaigning is kaput for now. States are banning large social gatherings, with others instituting statewide lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders. As of now, the 2020 election appears to be virtually canceled. We have primaries that are being shut down by public health orders. Yet, even with these events, it's clear that Biden will have the delegates to secure his party's nomination.

He may be off his rocker, but even Sen. Bernie Sanders has been able to get some airtime, giving a couple of pressers on what needs to be done in the wake of this outbreak. It was a call to action, though caked in political nonsense. The Sanders camp is using this crisis to highlight the flaws in the health care system and making a case for Medicare for All. Yeah, for the ideologue, this may be news, but when someone is told they have tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus, they don't care about socialized medicine, and neither do their families. If they're over the age of 65, they're more concerned about if they will live until the next week.

There are a couple of factors of why Biden has wandered off like Grandpa Simpson. The first is that, well, Joe has lost his touch. His one-on-one debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders was anything but clear and articulate. For nearly an hour, the two men ranted about the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak but offered nothing that was really all that different from what the Trump administration was doing to combat the disease.

It's been a mess ever since, with the former vice president mixing up the Wuhan coronavirus and swine flu and opposing President Trump's key travel restrictions. The latter is a continuation of the ongoing Biden narrative that he's wrong about foreign policy—and he is. Except for key elements of trade, the Canada-U.S. border is shut down. The European Union has also closed its borders. You see, Joe—you were just dead wrong. It's not comforting that the president is opposed to measures to combat a more contagious disease than the seasonal flu. The second part is the media market. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are two figures that have received the most airtime over this outbreak and for good reason—New York represents half of all Wuhan coronavirus cases in the U.S. Still, Joe Biden could be the next president of the United States. I pray that he is defeated in November, but for now, the next possible man up should speak. Biden tried yesterday morning. It did not go well (via Politico):

Joe Biden doesn’t occupy a political office, isn’t a great orator and is basically stuck in his house.

It’s not much of a platform for projecting leadership during the coronavirus crisis.

That was laid bare Monday as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee gave his first coronavirus shadow briefing webcast. Biden’s been outgunned by President Donald Trump and outshone by some of the nation’s governors, among them New York’s Andrew Cuomo, whose crisis response efforts are drawing rave reviews.

The former vice president was staid and somber, even as his remarks were marred by a few minor real-time snafus and slip-ups. The lighting in his newly converted home studio was subpar. The webcast time, 10:30 a.m., came an hour earlier than Biden had originally said the day before — ensuring a relatively small audience for a candidate who hadn’t shown his face in nearly a week.

It wasn’t riveting TV. And the speech barely made a blip.

“The problem is Joe Biden doesn’t have a bully pulpit,” said George Arzt, a veteran Democratic consultant who has counted Cuomo among his clients.


Accustomed to speaking from behind a lectern, Biden decided to have one placed in the middle of his new home studio — an awkward fit amid the backdrop of bookshelves and personal pictures framed beneath a living room table lamp.

There were hiccups that showed the telltale signs of a 77-year-old candidate adjusting to a campaign that’s gone completely online in a matter of days. At the start of the webcast, Biden wasn’t sure when he was live. A few minutes in, his teleprompter appeared to have broken as he tried, but failed, to gesture beneath the camera shot for an unseen aide to hand him notes.

“The lectern in a living room look was really odd — nobody would do that in real life, so it shouldn't be done on social,” said Kevin Cate, former media strategist for one of Biden’s past opponents, Tom Steyer.

And while the media hates Trump and tries to humiliate him at every turn while his team fights to contain this disease, the American people see something different. They support his measures, and his polls in handling the crisis have ticked up. It marks yet another media defeat, though they have clinched a big win in trashing the market, destroying the savings and retirements of countless Americans. And this was all done to ensure the Democrats have a better shot at beating the president. Well, again, two problems. One is that Joey boy is not a social media president, and in a time of social distancing and quarantine, he's ill-prepared. His dithering in how to find a medium to speak during this crisis is indicative of this problem. Trump and his team, on the other hand, are aces at this.

As previously stated, Biden has been snuffed out by other governors, like Cuomo and California's Gavin Newsom, who, despite their disdain for President Trump, have given him high marks on getting them what they need in a timely manner to contain their respective outbreaks. It sounds like President Trump is handling this crisis well. The people who aren't are the young, who have for days continued to gather at bars and beaches, ignoring the guidelines. And would you be shocked to learn that some spring breakers contracted the Wuhan coronavirus? Yeah, that happened. 

Folks, this disease has not reached levels of infection as the seasonal flu, which is expected to infect some 32-49 million Americans and kill anywhere from 18,000-50,000 this year alone. And next year, it might be in the same range. The seasonal flu kills tens of thousands of Americans every year and infects tens of millions. We're not there yet, but if social distancing isn't adhered to, it could. An infected person spreads the disease to another two-to-three people on average; the flu is a one-to-one ratio in that regard. It's deadly to the immunocompromised and the elderly—those 65 and older are at a very high risk of dying if they contract it.

For most, it can still get you very, very sick, but you'll most likely survive. The recovery rate for this disease is high in the 90 percent range. Still, those with mild symptoms and the asymptomatic, while a good sign since those will be a very large slice of the cases, can still spread the virus which can live on some surfaces for up to three days and can be airborne for hours. Wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and stay home. We'll beat this. For now, in the Biden camp, they're hunkering down, but the virus is not just eating away at the American economy. It's also killing Joe's presidential prospects, as he is unable to find a space to speak, campaign, and a majority of Americans viewing the Trump White House positively handling this crisis. Joe is the former vice president to one of the most popular Democrats in recent memory. He can't breakthrough. That's a problem he has to solve. Like Hunter, he can't let this float and dangle out there. Trump is leading. That's the narrative right now.

There's also another narrative that remains to be solved too: Where's Hunter?


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