Oct 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

America's new clear, present dangers


Memo from the White House physician. Photo: Wayne Partlow/AP

The coronavirus' threat to America is no longer confined by geography or demographics.

Why it matters: With the positive test for President Trump, the risks are real and immediate.

National security: Administration officials recognize that China and other powers know the U.S. is distracted, and could use this as a window for adventurism or even aggression.

  • Hotspots around the world are on fire, including China's escalation of territorial disputes in the South China Sea — as well as a border standoff between China and India the world's two most populous countries.

Economic: After summer signs of life, the economy is struggling again, with tens of thousands of layoffs this week by Disney and airlines.

  • Now, with markets racked by uncertainty, businesses won't be getting the signals they need to encourage reopening — let alone return to semi-normal.

Social: So many Americans had gotten lazy about virus protection, in part because huge swaths of the public felt untouched by it.

  • That's gone. The virus penetrated the most secure house in the world. Anyone who feels safe from the virus is foolish.
  • Any stigma that went with masks — always unfounded — should vanish.

Political: With 32 days to go before an election that both sides call the most vital in American history, the incumbent, age 74, is temporarily off the campaign trail.

  • The challenger — Joe Biden, 77 — has been super-cautious about his public appearances, and now has a host of new questions about his own plans.
  • Everything, including the three remaining debates, is now on uncharted terrain.

What's next: Those are all risks now.  If the president were to show symptoms, the disruption would multiply even further.

  • The next Trump-Biden debate is 13 days away — 14 days from the moment Trump said he'd quarantine.

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