This editorial has been updated to show the correct spelling of George Floyd's name. A previous version contained a typographical error that misidentified him as George Lloyd.
Here we are less than five months from the November presidential election and Donald Trump has backed himself into a corner.
He didn't cause the coronavirus, but he sure slow-walked appropriate national response to it. Now not only have more than 2 million Americans been sickened and 112,000 died, but our country also is suffering through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Likewise, Trump didn't put his own knee on the neck of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day, but he certainly stoked racial discord long before that. And he still throws more gasoline on the fire daily.
It's little wonder that members of the Senate and the House of Representatives in Washington are running as fast as their cowardly legs will carry them from reporters asking about any one of the latest dumb Trump tweets — like one last week positing that the 75-year-old white protester hospitalized with a bleeding head in Buffalo after police shoved him down for no reason and kept walking may secretly be "an antifa provocateur." The whole thing, our president added, may have been "a set up."
Sure. That must be it. Because nothing — nothing — is ever Trump's fault. At least that's the view in his small mind.
But one thing is sure. The more cornered Donald Trump sees himself, the more vicious he will become, and we can count on the coming 20 weeks to get a lot uglier.
Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent on Wednesday posed the question: "Is there anything that might [for Trump] magically solve both these problems [COVID-19 and protest impacts] in one stroke?
"Why, yes!" Sargent answered himself. "Blaming large gatherings at protests for any spikes in the coronavirus in coming weeks just might fit the bill perfectly!"
Then Sargent pointed to Fox News's Laura Ingraham, who often sets Trump's tweet and babble table.
"Notice the 'reporting' on COVID, which disappeared to give antifa & BLM 'their space,' is back now that President Trump is planning on rallies again?" Ingraham had just that morning tweeted.
Of course, the media did continue to fret about the virus, especially as protests multiplied. Even here. Though, scroll a bit through Times Free Press photo galleries and you'll notice that many and sometimes most of the protesters were masked. It was the police who rarely donned masks. And protesters asked them: "Why?"
What's more, if the protests were bad for spreading COVID-19, doesn't that make Trump rallies likely to spread it as well?
And what about those hours-long waits Tuesday to vote in the minority communities of Georgia, while in the the suburbs, mostly white voters easily strolled in, voted and were on their way back to the safety of their cars in minutes?
The reality is the coronavirus spikes were beginning around Memorial Day — the same day Floyd was killed as a police officer leaned his knee into the handcuffed man's neck for nearly nine minutes. That the spikes were beginning then means the exposures began well before widespread protests.
What the timing of the spikes does fit, however, is the virus' known incubation times and the early May reopenings in many states — including Texas, Tennessee and Georgia.
But a protest link is just one expected talking point of ugliness in the coming 141 days before Nov. 3. Get ready. Trump and his legion of Trumpites will blame anyone and anything they can to deflect from a president and his right-wing moths who scoffed at fears that a reckless and quick reopening of the economy could lead to future spikes.
Heaven only knows how much other chaos Trump can muster in this short span of time.
Buckle your seat belts.