MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, October 8th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Cal Thomas now on the value of a little presidential humility.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: President Trump’s infection with COVID-19 adds to a year no fiction writer could have contrived. The image of Trump last Friday walking out of the White House wearing a mask and traveling by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was an optic we have not seen with this president, and it was sobering. It was the same as he returned to the White House Monday and took off his mask for a photo op.
Will this experience produce changes in his campaign? More importantly, will it inject a dose of humility into his persona?
It will necessarily curtail his personal appearances for a time. How long and whether it alters plans for a second debate depends on his progress. It may also bring some sympathy to him if he responds in a way that encourages mask wearing and other practices that have proved effective in warding off the coronavirus.
If he recovers—and everyone with an ounce of goodwill for a fellow human being should hope he does—he should not engage in triumphalism, as if he is Superman. Instead, he should deliver a nationally televised address saying what he has learned from the experience and what the country can also learn.
The first lesson is that no one is guaranteed complete immunity from the virus. Democrats and foreign leaders have been infected, too. Wearing masks, frequent handwashing and practicing social distancing does help.
The second lesson is that Americans have sympathy, even empathy, for people who have overcome challenges. That is at the heart of one of Joe Biden’s campaign ads about the death of his first wife and daughter in a car accident. We admire such people. It is part of the American story and in our DNA.
Lesson number three could be the greatest of all. If the president can demonstrate some humility, it might resonate with many people.
There is no greater testimony than the one who can say, “I once was blind, but now I see.” The blind man Jesus healed in John chapter 9 explains to skeptical Pharisees that he doesn’t know anything about the Man who healed him; all he knows is that he now has his sight whereas before he didn’t.
The president has as a chance, if he will seize it, to emerge—if not a different man—than a man who has learned something he can share with others. He would also be able to credibly comfort those who have lost loved ones to the virus.
This should not be seen as a political tactic, though it would have obvious political benefits. But it should be something genuine in a city and in a political climate that is increasingly phony and cynical.
The year 2020 has been filled with numerous surprises. Seeing a “new,” or at least a slightly different President Trump emerge triumphantly and humbly from this personal challenge, would be the ultimate October surprise.
I’m Cal Thomas.