Two major events in the news these days. One seems very good; the other very, very tragic. Let’s deal with the good first.
Joe Biden’s pick of Kamala Harris as his running mate. The national media’s treatment of that news has been largely about her ethnicity. No matter the real subject of reporting, the second paragraph - or sound bite - we’re constantly being reminded of her mixed race - Black and East Indian. And, “the historic importance” of same. Always got to get that in. Enough already. We get it.
Harris comes to the ticket with some interesting positives. And a couple of negatives. Plus side, whether as a former California Attorney General or as a first-term Senator, she’s proven herself a tough inquisitor, hard bargainer and a worthy opponent when she disagrees with someone or some thing. She backed Trump’s Attorney General (and personal lawyer) Barr into a verbal corner during a hearing on the Hill. And, she brought SCOTUS nominee Kavanagh to tears in his Senate confirmation hearing. At the moment, it’s Harris two, Trump nominees zero.
Yep, she’s a hard charger. And, apparently, a quick learner. Harris is completing her third year of her first term in the Senate. She’s sponsored - or co-sponsored - some interesting legislation. Most of it hasn’t gone anywhere because Mitch McConnell has filled several waste baskets with bills from Democrats. But, that hasn’t stopped her from trying.
Her background, we’re assured, is clean as that old whistle. My guess is she’s been vetted so closely the Biden team can tell you what she had for breakfast March 23, 1987. Trump’s team of political grave diggers can do their nasty work 24/7 and, in the end, they won’t know as much as Biden. Not his first rodeo.
On the downside, there’s that business of only in the middle of her first term in Congress. Most VP nominees come to the ticket with a lot more experience in world affairs, the military or similar fields. Possibly the most qualified VP pick, at least in recent history, was Bush the elder. His political bio had so many important entries it looked almost as if he couldn’t keep a job. Harris - not so much. But, as mentioned afore, she seems to learn quickly.
It’s often said the President’s main job is foreign affairs. As far as the whole Congress goes, no one has more expertise than Joe Biden. He’s on a first-name basis with leaders of the countries we have to re-establish relationships with. There’s also his many years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - many as chairman - going back to Frank Church days. Uncle Joe has the “chops.” Very long “chops” to undertake that important task.
While Harris lacks lengthy congressional experience, there are those three-years on the Hill. She’s gotten to know the ins-and-outs, who the staff players are, who can move legislation and who can get jobs done even without prominent titles.
So, Biden may figure, he’ll take on the immediately necessary work of re-establishing relationships and assuring other nations of our intent to honor our treaties and other obligations. Harris can deal with Congress to rebuild the vital trust and working arrangements as necessary between that Constitutional body and the White House.
If that’s the case, we could be looking at a President-Vice President team with the possibility of being as cohesive and effective as Obama-Biden. Just could be.
Now, that aforementioned tragic event: forcing schools to reopen.
From local school boards to Trump, politicians can jump up and down and shout from the rooftops that schools MUST reopen “for the good of the children.” Pure B.S.! In nearly all cases, school reopening this year will be done on a political basis and not sound public health policy. Period!
We already know, from the few schools operating, teachers and kids are being infected. In Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and elsewhere, it’s been bad enough some schools have been shuttered.
Why is it so damned hard to deal with this? Why is it so difficult to understand the basic facts so apparent with coronavirus?
Many professional athletes are sitting out the season in several sports. Why? The billion-dollar “non-profit” teams all have the power to acquire unlimited health protections and the best medical staffs money can buy. Whatever the cost. But, many players aren’t going to play. Why? COVID-19, that’s why!
Yet, we’re going to put 25-30 kids in classrooms, give ‘em all face masks and expect things will be all hunky-dory? You kiddin’ me? You ever see what kids can do with a face mask - other than wearing it? Who’s going to disinfect each classroom before another gang of students moves in? Restrooms? Playground equipment? Hallways? Lockers? Gyms?
Politics first. Safety - and protection of our children - a distant second.
My wife is a retired educator with several degrees and 40 years of classroom, staff and supervisory experience. Hash marks up to here. Top qualifications. And she wouldn’t set foot in an elementary or secondary building today. She calls ‘em “breeding grounds” for the pandemic. “Breeding grounds.”
Online classes also have one major -and possibly fatal - problem. Many kids don’t have computers. And, if they did, some don’t have I-net access. They can’t do the school work that’s so heavily dependent on technology these days.
Maybe I’m just one old tree in the forest. But, given the knowledge we have of the ability of COVID-19 to cause massive sickness and death - even under the best conditions - it just could be we need to keep schools closed at least to the end of the year. Give educational pros the chance to compact a year’s school work into five months or so and reopen under a safer school environment- if pandemic conditions change.
If things don’t get better by January, skip it. If athletes being paid millions can - for safety’s sake - forego a year’s salary, maybe the lives of our children, worth at least that much, can take a year off.
The real problem for putting kids back in school isn’t so much what we know of COVID-19 as it is what we DON’T know. With five-million infected - and the 165-thousand or so Americans who’ve died - we have little hard evidence of all the ways this disease is transmitted or how each person picked it up. Without that knowledge and knowing the dangers inherent for kids, you really want to put your child into a classroom that’s more “Petrie dish” than a place of learning?
My congratulations to Sen. Harris. My condolences to parents who may gamble with their kids lives. And lose.