OXFORD — Among a lot of things missing in these coronavirus pandemic days is the usual plethora of political campaign news.
It just isn’t normal for this time in an election year. Of course, there isn’t much normal at all about 2020.
I guess you can count President Trump’s recent series of press briefings on the pandemic as politics; his critics are. Some of the briefings have seemed like Trump political rallies, at least when he and Vice President Mike Pence speak.
The New York Times — which Trump considers an enemy — assigned three journalists to review more than 260,000 words spoken by the president on the virus from March 9 through mid-April.
“By far the most recurring utterances from Mr. Trump in the briefings are self-congratulations, roughly 600 of them, which are often predicated on exaggerations and falsehoods. He does credit others (more than 360 times) for their work, but he also blames others (more than 110 times) for inadequacies in the state and federal response,” the Times journalists wrote.
Trump’s problem with campaigning via the virus briefings is that they have been in front of what he considers hostile reporters who ask difficult questions instead of cheering supporters at one of his big rallies, which the pandemic has put on hold.
The constant accolades thrown his way by Vice President Pence at the briefings don’t make up for cheers of the throngs who would turn out at one of the president’s rallies if he could hold one.
Trump’s sometimes erratic statements at the briefings — suggesting that injections of disinfectants into the human body might help fight the virus, for example — could be hurting him more than helping him politically, some have speculated.
I don’t know about that. But he did back away from the briefings over the weekend. I wonder, though, how much longer he can stay away from the television camera. He loves it.
Meanwhile, what about Joe Biden, the presumed Democrat nominee who will face Trump in this year’s election just a little more than six months from now?
Cloistered in his Delaware home because of the pandemic, Biden’s name is almost absent from the daily news on television and newspapers unless you really search for it. I did see Monday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally endorsed Biden, but that isn’t startling news. Who else would she have endorsed?
Unlike the last part of 2019 and the first couple of months of 2020, when the race for the Democratic nomination dominated news cycles, the presidential race is remarkably quiet.
This may be working to Biden’s advantage.
He is notorious for verbal gaffes, and if he were on the campaign trail as usual, fielding questions from reporters, he’d be making some.
What he’s not saying won’t be as damaging as what he might say.
Recent polling suggests that despite Trump dominating the news, Biden is leading him in some key states.
At some point the presidential campaign will get back in the headlines and at the top of the evening news, supplanting the steady diet of coronavirus updates and interviews.
For even those who get tired of politics — not to mention folks like me who love to follow it — that can’t come soon enough.
• Charles M. Dunagin is the retired editor and publisher of the Enterprise-Journal in McComb. He lives in Oxford.