Most of the opinions and thoughts I share in my weekly column on this page labeled “Local” focus on the Valley, its people, and issues.
That’s as it should be.
Today I’m crossing that line a bit, even though, as former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill was known for saying, “All politics is local.”
Last Tuesday at a media briefing President Trump took what many, including me, thought was an uncalled for jab at Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason for wearing a mask while asking his question.
Trump said: “I couldn’t hear you. Can you take it off, because I cannot hear you.”
Mason responded, “I’ll just speak louder, sir.” (Note: It was easy to hear every word Mason was saying on the video of this exchange.)
To which Trump replied: “Oh, OK, because you want to be politically correct. Go ahead.”
“No sir, I just want to wear the mask,” Mason responded.
Wearing a mask during the current pandemic — and let me emphasize it is still a current pandemic — has absolutely nothing to do with being politically correct.
A growing number of Republicans stepped up this week to push back against Trump’s suggestion that it is.
Consider these examples reported in the Washington Post:
- “Wearing a face covering is not about politics — it’s about helping other people,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) tweeted Tuesday.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) posted a photograph on Instagram of himself in a mask Tuesday night.
- Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), added “#wearyourmask” to his Twitter handle.
- Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), a member of the Republican leadership shared a photo of himself in a mask Monday, asking others to adopt the practice.
Trump has been strident about not wearing a mask in public. That has exacerbated the huge national divide to include those who wear masks vs. those who won’t.
Last Monday, Fox News’ Brit Hume tweeted a photo of Joe Biden wearing a mask at a Memorial Day ceremony at the Delaware Memorial Bridge
“This might help explain why Trump doesn’t like to wear a mask in public. Biden today,” Hume wrote of the photo.
The president, of course, retweeted Hume’s tweet.
More than 100,000 Americans have already died from this virus — more than died in the Vietnam and Korean Wars combined. But there are still those who think this whole thing has been overblown. Incredible!
In a piece in Newsweek, Rufus Gifford, Biden’s deputy campaign manager made a great point. He said Trump calling wearing a mask politically correct was “the equivalent of mocking someone for wearing a seatbelt. Or a bike helmet.”
All three are matters of safety — for the wearers and those around us.
I wear a mask when I am walking around The Daily Item building, at the grocery store or any public spot. Our reporters and photographers do as well when they are on assignment.
When my wife and I go on our morning walk, neither of us wears one. We know we will largely be alone at 6 a.m. and that we can easily move to the CDC-suggested distance away from anyone we happen to encounter.
The bottom line: When a mask is needed — when we are not confident we can control our distance from others — we each wear one.
That seems so simple and obvious. I continue to be perplexed it has become such an issue.
Perplexed, but not surprised.
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