The knuckleball political scenario

2020 keeps throwing knuckleballs at us in an unending series of plot twists that would rival a Hollywood scriptwriter munching on wild mushrooms for lunch.

NOW the president is wearing a mask. (Photo: ABC News)

But scriptwriters have to respect their audience. The willing suspension of belief the audience allows will last just so long. The fabulous success of the TV series The Island lasted only until it became clear the writers were pulling ideas out of their ass and the narrative was a jump ball,

2020’s narrative was destroyed long ago, yet the reality keeps staggering forward, now with a subplot of an American president dying in office, not from a gunshot wound, but from the hubris of not wearing a mask.

But is it really that? He is the most protected individual in the world, I hear some of you say. What difference would a mask have made?

Some, say the facts. While he is the “most protected,” those around him are not and one of them — Hope Hicks? — accidentally infected him.

Earlier he had bragged, wrongly, as usual, that no one attending his rallies had gotten sick, completely forgetting that his supporter Herman Cain attended a Tulsa rally with no mask and no social distancing, and he died about two weeks later. He was not the only one.

While I oppose Presidential Donald J. Trump’s re-election, I hope for his swift and immediate recovery, as well as for Melania, Hicks, others in his circle and those around the world facing death.

That is a sincere wish and shame on anyone who wishes for his death out of a sense of vengeance. You think you are absolved because you believe him to be such a hateful character, but you are not absolved. Not if you allow him to drag you down to his level.

Years ago, when Trump started cackling about a second term, I speculated he might not finish a first term. With Supreme Court rulings reversing much of what he wanted to do, he might just declare victory and walk away in disgust, I suggested, without making it a prediction.

He could be assassinated, or he could get sick and die in office. The third hypothesis now seems most likely, and yet still unlikely, to come true.

Here are the possibilities.

He dies in office before the election. Republicans quickly make Mike Pence their nominee.

The Trump base, which regards Trump as a blend of JFK and Ronald Reagan, turns out in massive numbers, joined by sympathetic independents who want to “honor” a fallen leader with their vote. The “dump Trump” conservatives, such as the Lincoln Project, fall silent because Pence is a true conservative minus the outer skin of bluster and bias. The Democratic far Left which would crawl over their grandmothers to vote against Trump, is less animated to vote, and Pence wins.

Or — the Trumpsters are completely depressed, Evangelicals take his death as a sign from God and they all stay home. Hoping to stop the Amy Coney Barrett nomination, Democrats swamp the polls (and mail-in boxes) and elect Joe Biden, they keep the House and regain the Senate, then move to pack the Supreme Court, and admit D.C., and Puerto Rico as states and turn America into a one-party state. Hey — why not also admit the U.S. Virgins, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas, and Guam? Par-tee! 

If he dies in office after the election and he loses, Biden is president.

If he dies in office after the election and he wins, Vice President Pence becomes president.

That narration is straight forward.

Wait! Here come the hopped-up scriptwriters with another knuckleball. Chris Christie, who coached the president for his debate, announced late Saturday morning that he was infected, along with other Trump confidants.

So the West Wing, the government’s central nervous system, and Pence, gets infected and goes down quickly, incapacitated.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi becomes president of the United States — the first woman and the oldest person entering the office.

Given the knuckleballs 2020 has thrown so far, can we really say, nah, this can’t happen? 

40 thoughts on “The knuckleball political scenario”

  1. I noticed tRump’s predecessor sent best wishes. No doubt drumpfster would have done the same, as when McCain was dying of cancer and even after his funeral. Classy!

  2. Stu: I enjoy reading you writings. I still remember your rankings in the Daily News. I don’t remember if you wrote for the Bulletin. This particular column is right on. We may differ in opinions on some issues, this column gives scenarios that are very real. Have a great weekend

  3. 2020’s final knuckleball hits with the force of a meteor as Speaker of the House becomes Master of the House. 🙂

    this was a reply on facebook to the “what if” scenario.
    The Trumpster is a genius! He is going to drag out his illness till November 2. Then he’s going to die! This will make Pence the President and queen pelosi the v.p. !
    Then Trump will die on November 4, to collect the insurance money. Him being shrewd, he has money coming from every insurance company out there. After lying in state, he’ll then go on tour – charging admission for the public to see him.
    Then he’ll be buried at sea. BUT ! He isn’t really dead. He’s escaping to Atlantis, where he’ll meet up with Melanie. Sheer genius !
    Wish that I’ld thought of that!

  5. If the Democrats win control of the government, what will follow all these knuckleballs will be screwballs, and what will be screwed will be democracy in the U.S. Everything the Dems did in the past four years to overturn the vote of the voters, e.g., the years-long phony Clinton-paid-for “Trump Collusion with Russia” investigation, the Ukraine “quid pro quo” impeachment when it was Biden who told them to fire the prosecutor in the next six hours or they won’t get their money (“son-of-a-bitch, they did”) will be followed by making sure they’ll never have to endeavor to overturn the voters again – pack the Supreme Court, abolish the Electoral College, make everyplace on the planet with two more Democrats than Republicans a state, tear down the fence and open the borders to those who-used-to-be-illegals, abolish school choice, public funded abortion with no opt-out for believers that it’s the abominable crime against nature, etc., etc. And, above notwithstanding, Trump’s level is a lot Higher than that of those who wish him dead.

    1. How did CNN and MSNBC and all broadcast news miss reporting all this, all these years…Mmm?

      1. Hi, Tom. I watch Fox, but these other networks must have mentioned these things – they happened (Mueller probe that Comey just said he wouldn’t have signed off on to the FISA court today, Ukraine impeachment, Biden bragging he got the prosecutor fired) or the Dems are threatening to make them happen (DC et al statehood, court packing, ending charter schools, influx of foreigners, etc. “Everything’s on the table.”) I forgot to mention ending the filibuster so Republicans couldn’t stop anything, Green New Deal with fossil fuel ending, rejoin the Iran deal with its sunset clauses, rejoining Climate accords, “two-state solution,” etc. You won’t recognize America if the Dems take control.

    2. Jerry, how can you say “Everything the Dems did in the past four years to overturn the vote of the voters” when Clinton won the popular vote by about 3 million votes? It was the Electoral College that gave him the presidency, not the majority of the voters.

      1. For sound reason, which has served our Republic well for over two centuries, “the vote of the voters” is not a “popular” vote for president, but one in which the majority of voters in each State of the United States pick the candidate they believe best supports the beliefs and needs of both the country as a whole and of their own State. This, like the Congress being elected by states, makes the Federal government more directly responsible to the citizens and their regional beliefs and needs. In 2016, Trump and Clinton campaigned under these rules. Had the rules been that of a “popular” vote, Trump still could not have won, e.g., California, but by campaigning there he’d have likely cut the margin somewhat, and Clinton perhaps done better in Wisconsin. I hope the Democrats, if they take control, won’t mess with the Electoral College.

  6. Philadelphia, PA

    Dear Stu,

    I’m afraid that this is all just too speculative for me.

    You can be sure that the President will get the best possible treatment as needed, antibody serum to inhibit severity, anti-inflammatory drugs as needed (apparently even ibuprofen benefits those with severe inflammation); and he won’t let them put him on a ventilator, I’d predict. The prospect is that he’ll come back no worse off than Boris Johnson. Maybe he’ll never even develop the worse symptoms? Most people don’t. He’s a vigorous fellow, whatever else people say about him.

    I believe in taking reasonable precautions, wearing a mask when it is needed, keeping at a distance, I supported the Governor’s restrictions, etc. But we’ve also been out for dining in Center City and elsewhere, outdoors and now indoors. Most places are simply not all that

    The yearly death statistics for the flu in the U.S. run about 5,000 a year. That shows that the covid virus is much more dangerous –given the figure of 200,000 deaths so far this year. But consider even that figure. 200,00 is 20% of a million, therefor 2% of 10 million, and 0.2% of 100 million. The U.S. population is now around 320 million. So, take that 0.2% and divide through by 3.2, and that tells you the percentage of the population of the U.S. killed by the Covid virus.

    I think people have now started to ask in more detail what the damage has been from the business shutdowns across the country, unemployment, bankruptcies, failures of income, isolation, etc. Some of the craziness in the country seems to arise simply from having people fearful and cooped up for such a long time.

    I think we need to start getting out there again and taking our chances –with all due personal precautions. Is it really all for the best to stay home and wait for a vaccine? How much CYA is involved in the current official concern for public safety? How much of the U.S. death figures come from the elderly who were cooped up in nursing homes across the country? We did “flatten the curve,” and “save the resources of the healthcare system,” but that did not do the elderly in the nursing homes much good. Were the negative effects of the various shutdowns really taken into account in deciding to “flatten the curve”?

    What do you think? Time to get out there more?

    H.G. Callaway

      1. Philadelphia, PA

        Dear Stu,

        Even a “could happen piece” can be too speculative.

        Are reasonable expectations governed by what we know has has actually happened, chiefly, or do we have to engage in the widest imaginable “possible” but implausible eventualities to know where we stand? I’ll go with the facts on the ground.

        We don’t now expect any of the things you skech to actually happen, so why borrow trouble? Tomorrow is another day. Who was it who should have been a novelist?

        H.G. Callaway

  7. Stu,
    The replys have drifted off the original thought. No surprise there. So, keeping with moving the repys, H.G. touched on a subject that is often missed. Over population of the planet. The animal kingdom, prior to us, managed to keep itself in check. Kill off the old, make way for the young. Man shows up, and, SURPRISE !, he does it the opposite way. Kill off the young and old. WAR. Then we get past World Wars, because they are costly. Not in human life, but replace and repair the damage. So, we have these little skirmishes. In places somewhat remote, causing little damage and still managing to decrease the population. Well boys and girls. We’re still heading toward overpopulation. Let’s have a few viruses. No cure, no worries. Loose a couple million folks a year is okay. Hardly noticeable. But wait ! we can do more ! let’s invent a FLU ! BINGO !

  8. Philadelphia, PA

    Dear Stu,

    A correspondent of mine past on the following video of a report from the President’s doctors:


    This video runs about 12 Min.

    My guess at his status and treatment turned out right, so far–except that I forgot the antiviral medication.

    H.G. Callaway

    1. Sorry, I don’t have 12 minutes. The people who are talking don’t know the facts, and the people who know the facts aren’t talking… but the truth will escape anyway.

      1. Philadelphia, PA

        Dear Stu,

        I thought the presidential doctors an impressive crew. They know the facts if anyone does. They seemed pretty much straight shooters. Why discount them –though lacking evidence to the contrary on the matter?

        Sometimes even FOX News make good reports. But if “the truth will (always) escape,” then the aim of accurate reporting makes no sense.

        H.G. Callaway

        1. The doctors did not shoot straight, they were vague and misleading, and the more accurate reporting, the less we have to result in the truth coming out eventually.

        2. H.G.: Dr. Conley ADMITTED he dissembled on the oxygen matter and was “mistaken” on the time line. He added that there are things he cannot reveal without the patient’s approval. Then say that and don’t make stuff up.
          At this point — except that I don’t believe in conspiracies — I wonder if Trump actually has the virus or if this was just a hoax to make him seem powerful. Repeat: I do not believe that (because he could not keep it secret).

  9. Folks, it ain’t that serious. It’s a FLU for goodness sake. Yeah, 8 million have caught it, but there are 322 million who haven’t. And of the 8 million or so who caught it, 200,000 or so have died — that’s about .025%. I had closer calls on the Interstate Highway System on my 4950-mile drive recently concluded. And in the same period the nation has gone nuts over Covid, 30,000 people have died on the highways in car wrecks.

    1. Philadelphia, PA

      Dear Benedict,

      That’s a very helpful comment in keeping the entire epidemic in perspective.

      There are, no doubt, real dangers, but one may suspect that there has been some confusion between dangers to the country at large and dangers to the ability of the healthcare system to deal with severe cases. Policies designed to “flatten the curve” chiefly addressed the danger of a sharp increase in cases overburdening the healthcare system. You’ll recall those early, insistent demands for more ventilators–though they are only used in the most severe cases. “Flattening the curve” does not guarantee that the total number of cases will actually be reduced over the course of the epidemic.

      Nonetheless, I think the Governor acted wisely, early on, with the effect of likely preventing the early, extremely high incidence of infections in NYC moving down to PA. I think it was also a good idea, early on, to interrupt international air travel with China and Europe.

      By their nature, however, emergency measures are unsuited for the longer term.

      H.G. Callaway

  10. I hope & pray that President recovers & is re-elected. If Dems win, I feel sorry for our country. Biden will have his earpiece listening to progressives on what he should do!!! Pelosi will never leave, wish she would go back to her California kitchen & eat her ice cream. Will we ever have term limits??? 47 years much too long for anyone to be in politics!

  11. Trump and associates together with their singular disregard for Covid has done more perhaps to eradicate the Republican party as well as some of its most prominent members than an election could ever do. My thanks. P.S. I want to show no more in the way of good wishes for his recovery than he expressed to the 208,000 and counting who have died. I’ll use his example

  12. Since the topic is Trump-What-Ifs with possible unprecedented scenarios ahead, I was thinking what if Trump was not Trump-like?  Think any President you admire. What if his tone was more presidential and he did not carry himself the way that many have come to dislike him for, but his policies and accomplishments were the same, both domestic and foreign? Three time nominee for The Nobel Peace Prize.

    First, would they have come after him as Jerry stated?  His facts above are not made up. To put it mildly the media has gone nuts with his behavior.  It is not a crime to exaggerate the truth or brag or behave as he does (call it what you want). Conversely, it is his adversaries who have committed crimes.

    And second, would it change any minds?  Remember, he is the biggest threat ever for the DC lifers, for the status quo, for those intent on not giving up the power, influence and money they have attained (that in fact is why he is attacked.)  His enemies don’t care about his style. They’re scared of him. Get rid of the messenger.  They’re desperate.

    Complain all you want about Orange Man, but they’ve taken extreme measures to remove him and if they’re successful our grandchildren will bear the consequences. Witness this summer.

    1. The Left has hated DT from BEFORE he ran for the presidency, WHILE he ran, and AFTER he won. He isn’t Hillary, and that is enough for the Left to hate him. He could have discovered a cure for cancer, a cure for baldness, a permanent cure for ED, and how to run machinery on salt water and the Left would still hate him.

    2. If he behaved differently, the reaction to him would be different, but if he behaved differently he probably would not have been elected in the first place.

      1. My point is, for the first time we have a man who is intent on cleaning up DC. That takes guts. I would think he should get our support.

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