The World and Everything In It — October 8, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

Separating fact from fiction in the COVID19 statistics isn’t easy. Today, we’ll talk specifics.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Plus two Christian leaders with opposing views on our presidential choices.

And WORLD commentator Cal Thomas on the goodness of humility.

REICHARD: It’s Thursday, October 8th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Good morning!

REICHARD: Time for the news. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Pence, Harris face off in VP debate » AUDIO: Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence

The vice president and the would be VP faced off last night in Salt Lake City in the only vice presidential debate of 2020.  

In contrast to last week’s chaotic debate between President Trump and Joe Biden, last night’s debate remained respectful. The most spirited exchange came when Pence pressed Harris on the question of expanding the Supreme Court. 

PENCE: Are you and Joe Biden, if somehow you win this election, going to pack the Supreme Court to get your way?
HARRIS: I’m so glad we went through a little history lesson. Let’s do that a little more. In 1864 …
PENCE: I’d like you to answer the question.
HARRIS: Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking. I’m speaking. 

Harris dodged the question while accusing President Trump of taking the Supreme Court out of the hands of voters by nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the high court just weeks before the election. 

Harris also took aim at the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic.

HARRIS: They minimized the seriousness of it. The president said you’re on one side of his ledger if you wear a mask, you’re on the other side of his ledger if you don’t. 

She charged that President Trump still doesn’t have a plan to deal with it.

Pence countered that Biden’s plan to fight COVID-19 sounds a lot like the White House is already doing. 

PENCE: When I look at their plan that talks about advancing testing, creating new PPE, developing a vaccine, it looks a little bit like plagiarism. 

They also traded shots on healthcare, foreign policy, and the economy. 

Pence and Harris sat 12 feet apart, separated by plexiglass barriers to guard against transmission of the coronavirus. A small audience was socially distanced and wore masks. 

President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are scheduled to square off once again next Thursday in Miami.

White House signals willingness to approve piecemeal COVID-19 relief » The White House says it remains open to passing some piecemeal economic relief measures before the election. 

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday that he’s been on the phone with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. 

MEADOWS: The secretary and I have been talking about what we can do with stand-alone bills to help airlines, small businesses, and the American people with stimulus checks. 

The president on Tuesday called off talks with Democrats on a wide-ranging relief bill until after the election, saying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasn’t negotiating in good faith. 

Pelosi called the breakdown of talks “unfortunate.” She said she felt things were moving in the right direction. 

PELOSI: We had such great provisions in the bill, not that they agreed to all of them yet, but we were on a path. 

In a series of tweets Wednesday, the president called on Congress to send him a stand-alone bill for another round of $1,200 stimulus payments to Americans. He said “I am ready to sign right now.”

He also urged Congress to immediately approve $25 billion for airlines and $135 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses.

NFL’s Patriots cancel practice following COVID-19 infections » The New England Patriots have canceled practice amid reports that a third player has tested positive for COVID-19. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Sports Illustrated reported that reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore tested positive on Wednesday and was added to the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list. 

Starting quarterback Cam Newton missed New England’s loss at Kansas City on Monday night after a positive COVID-19 test and was added to the reserve list Saturday. Practice squad player Bill Murray joined him on the list Tuesday.

Newton’s positive test prompted the NFL to postpone New England’s game with the Chiefs by a day.

Newton tweeted a picture of himself Wednesday morning wearing a mask, along with the caption: “WEAR YOUR MASK. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE.”

The Patriots are scheduled to host the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

American and French scientists win Nobel Prize in chemistry » Two scientists won the Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for developing so-called “molecular scissors” to edit genes. Some say that has raised hopes of one day curing inherited diseases.

Frenchwoman Emmanuelle Charpentier and American Jennifer A. Doudna came up with a method known as CRISPR-cas9. It can be used to change the DNA of animals, plants, and microorganisms. 

DOUDNA: We figured out that this protein is able to cut DNA, and importantly that we could control where it cuts DNA by changing the molecule that guides it to a particular DNA sequence, a molecule of RNA. 

Chairman of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry Claes Gustafsson said that development has revolutionized science. He said, as a result, any genome can now be edited “to fix genetic damage.”

But he acknowledged that the technology raises serious ethical questions and said scientists must use it carefully.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: the data behind some of the most important pandemic statistics.

Plus, Cal Thomas on an opportunity for presidential humility.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MEGAN BASHAM: It’s Thursday, October 8th, 2020. You’re listening to The World and Everything in It and we’re so glad you are!  Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up: COVID-19 statistics.

In August, we asked two reporters to dig into some of the most common coronavirus numbers. Data points that you’ve probably heard and scratched your head about. Things like positive case counts, different types of testing, mortality rates, and recoveries.

BASHAM: If you missed it, we will link to it in today’s transcript. 

A lot of you wrote to say how much you appreciated that explainer, but you still had a lot of questions. So we put WORLD reporters Anna Johansen and Sarah Schweinsberg back on assignment to find some answers.

MONTAGE: Florida now surpassing 100,000 cases… We are up to 14 million cases globally… There’s been dramatic increase in hospitalizations… The U.S. has now conducted 28 million COVID-19 tests… The United States is reporting the highest number of deaths in a single day—nearly 1,500. 


ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: And I’m Anna Johansen. 

JOHANSEN: Pandemic terminology can be a slippery thing. We picked some of it up really fast: Asymptomatic, social distancing, even the word itself—pandemic. When did the average person say “pandemic” pre-2020?

SCHWEINSBERG: Only when I tried playing the board game.

JOHANSEN: But some of the COVID-related words and phrases we hear these days are harder to pin down.

PRINCESS BRIDE: You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

JOHANSEN: Take this term: Fatality rate. There are at least three terms related to COVID-19 fatality that you might have heard used interchangeably: Case fatality rates, infection fatality rates, and mortality rates. They obviously sound similar, but they all measure something different.

SCHWEINSBERG: Let’s start with case fatality rates or CFR. This looks at how many people have died from COVID-19 versus how many people have had COVID-19. In algebra terms: virus deaths divided by confirmed virus cases. That gives you a percentage. Right now, the U.S. case fatality rate is 2.8 percent. That means of all the people who have tested positive for COVID-19, 2.8 percent of them have died.

JOHANSEN: Case fatality rates vary widely by country and it’s tough to tell how reliable they are because the ratio depends on a nation’s ability to test for the virus—something that’s easier to do in developed countries. 

SCHWEINSBERG: The infection fatality rate or IFR tries to cast a wider net. Here’s Dr. Amesh Adalja. He’s a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security.

ADALJA: What we really want to know eventually is the intrinsic fatality rate, what inherent risk of death is there for being infected, and that’s the infection fatality rate.

SCHWEINSBERG: The IFR is the proportion of virus deaths to COVID-19 cases. Notice I didn’t say confirmed COVID-19 cases. Researchers think anywhere from 40 to 80 percent of everyone who has COVID-19 is asymptomatic. If the majority of people don’t show any signs of the virus, that means there’s a good chance they’ll never get tested and become a confirmed virus case. 

JOHANSEN: Chris Lindsell is a biostatistician at Vanderbilt University. He says without the ability to test huge numbers of people in order to catch all of the asymptomatic cases, it’s difficult to calculate a true infection fatality rate and get a precise picture of the virus. 

LINDSELL: There are many statistical models that provide an estimate. The fact that they’re not all the same, and they don’t give you all the same answer should be meaningful. It means that the actual, the precise truth is difficult to get our hands around. And it’s also one of the biggest reasons why we are struggling so much with understanding the pandemic. 

SCHWEINSBERG: In the meantime, biostatisticians have to rely on projections and estimates to calculate the IFR. The total U.S. infection fatality rate estimates range from .5 percent to .8 percent. That’s anywhere from 1-and-a-half to 2-and-a-half million Americans. 

JOHANSEN: That’s significantly lower than the current case fatality rate of 2.8 percent, which comes out to 9 million people. But as testing increases, those numbers should start to align. Here’s Dr. Adalja. 

ADALJA: You get what’s called the severity bias in the data, where the CFR is likely higher than the true IFR. Because you’re missing so many cases because you don’t have the diagnostic testing capacity. And as you get better at diagnosing, you will see the two numbers approach each other. 

SCHWEINSBERG: And last, we have the mortality rate. This just divides the total number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths by the entire population. Infected and uninfected. The U.S. mortality rate is .06 percent. 

Jose Miguel Yamal is a biostatistician and data scientist at the University of Texas. He says this is the least helpful measurement. 

YAMAL: So mortality rates is not taking into account whether, you know, the whole population has been infected, which no population, yet has gotten to that level.

JOHANSEN: So the case fatality rates and infection fatality rates measure all cases across all age groups. But when it comes to COVID-19, your chances of dying really depend on how old you are and your underlying health issues. 

SCHWEINSBERG: That’s right. The infection fatality rates vary widely by age groups. Here are the CDC’s latest numbers. If you are 19-years-old or younger, you have a .003 percent chance of dying from the coronavirus. 

JOHANSEN: If you are between 20 and 49 years old, your odds jump to .02 percent. For ages 50 to 69, the IFR climbs again to .5 percent. Anyone older than 70 has the biggest risk by far—a 5.4 percent chance of dying from COVID-19. 

SCHWEINSBERG: So it’s important to look at what kind of group you have, because it will affect your statistics and how dangerous the virus appears. For example, in Italy, the population is much older—the second highest in the world. Having a more vulnerable population overall drove up its case fatality rates to 7.2 percent in March, nearly 5 percentage points higher than the United States.

JOHANSEN: Now, depending on who you are and how old you are, you may be thinking all of these death rates either sound really serious or not something to worry about. So is there a way we can put these numbers into context? Can we maybe compare COVID-19 to other diseases?

We asked five biostatisticians and epidemiologists about this, and all of them said no, not really.

Here’s Chris Lindsell at Vanderbilt. 

LINDSELL: It is not the same as the flu virus. It is not the same as the common cold. It is not the same as the Ebola virus. It is a virus in and of itself. It’s its own thing. 

SCHWEINSBERG: COVID-19 is most often compared to the flu. But the experts we spoke with said that comparison is difficult to make simply because of how long we’ve known about the flu. Humans have battled influenza for centuries. That means we’ve built up more immunity, a vaccine, and knowledge about how to protect ourselves. Which means juxtaposing the flu and COVID-19 isn’t really a fair comparison. Because we just don’t have that information yet.

JOHANSEN: One difference between the flu and COVID-19 is which demographics are affected most. Jennifer Nuzzo is the lead epidemiologist for the Johns Hopkins Covid-19 Testing Insights Initiative.

NUZZO: Seasonal flu, what we deal with every year, tends to hit the very young and the very old. This virus is particularly hard on the very old. Fortunately, children aren’t, don’t seem to be as hard hit by this virus as they can be with flu. 

SCHWEINSBERG: Here’s another difference: So far, Dr. Amesh Adalja says the COVID-19 infection fatality rate is higher than the flu.

ADALJA: I would not compare this to the ordinary seasonal influenza. I would not compare this to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic because it is more severe than both of those. It probably has a true IFR or CFR however you want to say it, six times or so worse than the seasonal flu. 

JOHANSEN: It seems like the CDC or the World Health Organization are always releasing updates about what we know—or don’t know—about the virus. And sometimes those numbers can look contradictory.

SCHWEINSBERG: We wanted to ask some data gurus about a new number that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued in August. You might have seen this going around on social media. The CDC report said that 94 percent of COVID deaths had contributing factors; only 6 percent died of COVID alone. 

JOHANSEN: Here’s what happened. The CDC did not change the official number of Americans who died after testing positive for COVID-19. It clarified information about the causes of death. The report said that less than 10,000 people in the United States had died of only COVID-19. The rest also had two or three other contributing factors. Dr. Amesh Adalja says that isn’t surprising. 

ADALJA: You have to remember that COVID-19 does accelerate and accentuate other other medical conditions, like cardiovascular disease, like strokes, like pulmonary embolisms, or blood clots in the lungs, and people would not have died, were it not for COVID-19. And we’ve known from the beginning, that high risk groups, people who have other comorbid conditions are going to be the ones that are most likely to die. And I think that’s what the data reflects. 

SCHWEINSBERG: So how should that clarified information shape our perception of the virus?

Jennifer Nuzzo at Johns Hopkins says it should be a red flag for people with other health problems and their family members and friends.

NUZZO: What that clarification means is that if you have an underlying health condition, you should be particularly concerned about your risk of dying, were you to contract the virus.

JOHANSEN: But it does raise questions about the response to the virus. Because that response also has an impact on all demographics. Jose Miguel Yamal at the University of Texas points out some deaths have decreased because of the response to COVID-19…

YAMAL: For example, traumatic brain injuries, you know, with people staying at home more and taking less risky behavior, that there’s been a lot less traumatic brain injuries.

…but others have increased.

YAMAL: And there’s also other issues like deaths due to food insecurity, and mental health. And those other factors may be due to the pandemic itself, but not specifically to the virus. And so the situation is, is mixed, and it’s complicated.

SCHWEINSBERG: Remember last time, when we talked about excess mortality? That’s the difference between the actual number of deaths in a time period and the expected number of deaths in the same time period.

For example, The New York Times reported that between March and May, New York and New Jersey had more than 44,000 excess deaths. Two-thirds of those people died from COVID-19, but the others died from heart disease, Alzheimers, and influenza. Those people may have chosen to stay away from hospitals because they didn’t want to risk exposure to COVID-19.

JOHANSEN: There are plenty of other questions still to answer. That’s true for the experts, too! There are still many things statisticians, epidemiologists, and public health experts don’t know about this virus or what the response to it means for the lives of billions of people. And that’s a difficult tension for them—and all of us—to live in.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

SCHWEINSBERG: And I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

MARY REICHARD: A 9-year-old in elementary school in New Orleans got suspended for possessing a weapon in class. 

Fourth grader Ka Mauri Harrison admits he had a gun—but hang on! It wasn’t a deadly weapon. It was only a BB gun.

Still, the young man now has a weapons violation on his permanent academic record. 

But here’s the real kicker…

His math teacher spotted the BB gun during a virtual lesson. That’s right. Ka Mauri was at home, and the BB gun was propped up against a wall behind him. 

But the school district said the boy violated a federal law against having a weapon at school. 

His father said the suspension was over the line.

HARRISON: Just totally just invading privacy, just period, like you know, we can’t have no privacy in the house.

And Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is on his side. He said it’s troubling the school district…

LANDRY: Has not paused to think about the constitutional protections and rights that should be afforded when the school enters someone’s home.

The family hired a lawyer and is suing to get the violation off Ka Mauri’s school record.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: Today is Thursday, October 8th. This is WORLD Radio. Thank you for listening and good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: a special edition of the Olasky Interview.

In the latest issue of WORLD Magazine, editor in chief Marvin Olasky interviewed Christian journalist and lawyer David French, as well as Christian theologian and author Wayne Grudem. They have very different perspectives on Donald Trump and the 2020 election.

REICHARD: Last Friday, Olasky explained his reasoning for talking to both men:

OLASKY: When there is not a clear biblical position, which is often the case at election time, we will help to sharpen you by presenting contrasting views. If we don’t sharpen you, we’re doing you a disservice.

So today, we’re going to hear excerpts from both conversations to practice Proverbs 27:17—iron sharpening iron. We begin with French, who says regardless of Trump’s policies, he can’t support the president because of the president’s character. 

DAVID FRENCH: A president of good character is going to be a president who doesn’t try to intentionally divide the United States of America. The secretary of Defense, James Mattis said that Trump was a person who by pattern and practice intentionally tried to divide the United States of America. 

And the other thing that I would say in response to this division of character versus policies is if you’re somebody who’s outside the Christian community, that’s news to you, because the Christian community spent decades, decades saying that character mattered fundamentally, and was right. It was right for those decades. And in fact, the separation of character from policies is impossible.

OLASKY: The trump card for Trump proponents who recognize the severe character deficiencies that then lead to bad policies, the trump card is abortion. And how do you answer that saying, “well, if you are for Biden, then you are for, in essence, murdering little children.”

FRENCH: Right. Well, first what you have to say is, look, the power of the President over abortion is profoundly limited, profoundly limited. And so, given that his power over abortion rights is profoundly limited, do you subject everything else to this interest? And why do I say that? If you look at American abortion rates, for example, they peaked around 1980-81 and they have diminished every single presidency since. Through pro-life Presidents the abortion rate has gone down, through pro-choice Presidents the abortion rate has gone down. The abortion rate is determined by factors that have very little to do with the President of United States. That’s the bottom-line reality we’ve now learned through 40 plus years of activism, is that the abortion rate does not depend on the President.

MARVIN OLASKY: Let me ask then about your thinking about, say 2024, will America be in better or worse shape if Joe Biden is elected, Trump elected? What do you think would happen over the next several years?

FRENCH: I think America will be in much worse shape if Donald Trump is reelected. If he’s reelected, it’s probable that he would be reelected with yet another minority of the popular vote. And yes, I know, and I understand fully that presidents are elected through the Electoral College, not popular vote, but a constitutional republic can only withstand minoritarian governance for so long before it creates unrest. Decisive action by temporary and very narrow majorities, I think you destabilize the country. 

OLASKY: So, what I hear you saying, essentially, is that you are cheering for Joe Biden.

FRENCH: Oh, I do not want Donald Trump to win reelection. What I want to see happen is that Donald Trump lose to Joe Biden and the Republican Party retain the Senate

OLASKY: So, I hear you cheering for a narrow Democratic win…

FRENCH: Oh no, no, no, I want a decisive loss for Trump. My hope is that a resounding rejection of Donald Trump doesn’t carry with it a resounding rejection of Republicans who are not like Donald Trump, and that’s what I’m pessimistic about. I feel like the resounding rejection of Trump will also lead to resounding rejection of Republicans who are not like Trump, and I think that that is an outcome that’s not best for the country.

OLASKY: So, this does throw us to prior because it seems that we are, in a natural way, hung either way or hanged either way.

FRENCH: Look, mistakes have consequences. And when GOP voters chose Donald Trump to be their standard bearer in 2016, and I also say, when Democratic voters chose Hillary Clinton to be their standard bearer in 2016, a serious, consequential error was made. And we’re living with those consequences, and there’s no easy way to escape those consequences. 

But at the same time, the nomination of Donald Trump was the product of an awful lot of forces that had been building for some time, including when I talk about a great deal in the book, this concept of negative partisanship. He is a consequence of the rise of American partisan animosity. He’s sort of like a symptom of a disease that makes the disease worse, like a hacking cough can break a rib. 

MARVIN OLASKY: Wayne, Christian journalist and lawyer David French says America is in better shape in 2024, if Joe Biden is elected President, and Trump is defeated. 

GRUDEM: I have no idea how to justify that statement. Does he want judges who make their own laws and are accountable to no one. Or does he want judges who follow the original meaning of the Constitution of laws, as he would under Donald Trump? Does he want higher taxes under Biden or lower taxes under Trump?

Does he want more futile attempts against inequality and hindering our economic growth or more prosperity under Trump? Does he want meager economic growth under Biden are fewer and fewer jobs or strong economic growth under Trump? High unemployment under Biden as it was under Obama, or low under low unemployment under Trump? 

Will he work toward further reconciliation between Israel and Arab countries as Donald Trump has done with the UAE, or will he marginalize Israel, and  Benjamin Netanyahu? 

Under Biden we would have no legal protection for unborn babies. But under Donald Trump we’ve had increasing protection for unborn babies. More school choice or less school choice? Does he want, increasing the attempts by government to force Christians to violate their consciences and their sincerely held religious beliefs? Under Trump strong protections for religious freedom and freedom of conscience. 

And the last item I would mention under Biden we’d have extreme environmental policies leading to enormous increases in energy prices and frequent blackouts, not only in California but elsewhere. Under Trump we’ve had abundant energy and cheaper energy. 

OLASKY: Well, I’m getting the impression that you disagree with French. He considers President Trump to be very divisive. How do you respond to that?

GRUDEM: There’s been a hostility towards President Trump since the day he took office, and that divisiveness comes from an increasingly hostile and violent left. But the divisiveness is coming from people who would disagree with him but people who call themselves the resistance and try to oppose everything he does. That’s contrary to Romans 13 one which says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, he who resists the authority, resists what God has appointed.”

OLASKY: Let me ask you this: what do you think will happen in November and perhaps even December. If the election results aren’t clear?

GRUDEM: It’ll be resolved by the constitutionally prescribed legal process. There’s a deadline for states to turn in their electoral vote tallies. And if that is not decisive then it goes to the House of Representatives and the delegation of each state is allowed one vote in the House of Representatives and Republicans have a slight majority in that scenario. And the House of Representatives would choose Donald Trump as president I expect.

OLASKY: Well that would be quite a scenario. 

GRUDEM: I don’t think that’s what the Lord has in store for us.

OLASKY: I certainly hope and hope and pray not. What our President Trump’s most significant legislative accomplishments. 

GRUDEM: Well, first of all the appointment of supreme court justices and the approval of over 200 other judges. That’s in a sense legislative because it needs approval through the Senate.

Then, the defense budget,  that was around 750 billion dollars—the largest in history—strengthening our military, which was really weakened under Obama. And then there was some legislative approval, a measure of funding for building a wall on our southern border. It wasn’t as much as President Trump wanted but it was something. And the response to the COVID-19 crisis was a bipartisan legislative stimulus or recovery package in the midst of a crisis, crisis so there is some significant things that have been done. 

OLASKY: Okay. One more question. What do you think about the number of refugees allowed in the US, hitting an all time low?

GRUDEM: I wish the number were higher honestly, but I think it’s part of a larger question, where the nation has to decide what is the will of the people regarding immigration policy in general. For years, we’ve admitted more refugees to the United States than all other countries in the world combined. Last year’s 18,000 was a decline from that number. And I would hope it will return to a higher number.

REICHARD: To read more of Olasky’s interviews with both French and Grudem, check out the October 10th issue of WORLD Magazine, or you can read both online. We’ll include links in today’s transcript at

MARY REICHARD: 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: 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.

MEGAN BASHAM: Tomorrow: John Stonestreet joins us for Culture Friday.

And, I review a dramatic film from 2016 that explores difficult questions of ethics around marriage. 

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Megan Basham.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.

The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.

WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

Go now in grace and peace.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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