Allow me, please, a point of personal privilege.
Folks keep telling me how easy Donald Trump has made my job. For four years, I’ve had these discussions in which we ruminate on the singular awfulness of that man and then the other person says, by way of consolation, “At least you never have to worry about finding something to write about.”
I wish it were that simple. As a columnist, I’ve always tried to mix things up, move week to week from righteous outrage to snarky sarcasm to deadline poetry to stark analysis to the occasional oddball humor. Way back in the day – pre-2016, that is – I thought I did a decent job of that. Of course, back then, the presidency was not a constant source of dyspepsia. Rather, it was something you could safely ignore for days on end. Yes, it sometimes produced moments of high drama (and low comedy) that demanded your attention, but for long stretches, you could get away without thinking or – more to my point – without writing about it.
Then came Trump. He is Teapot Dome wrapped around Watergate, drizzled with Iran-Contra, stuffed inside a stained blue dress, set afire and left on your doormat. Every. Single. Day. And soon, every single column begins to feel like the same expression of gobsmacked dismay.
You find yourself drowning in his effluvium. There is simply so much stuff – we’re talking major stuff, stuff that would define and destroy any normal presidency in any normal era – that you can’t begin to keep up. The list of crazy things Trump has done that I never found space to comment on is long and appalling. But on the other hand, what’s left to say? There are only so many synonyms for “corrupt,” “narcissistic” and “stupid.”
For the record, then: No, Trump has made my job not easier, but more difficult. And four years of him have left me drained. Which is why I’m here to do something I’ve never done in the 26 years – spanning six presidential elections – I’ve had this platform. I’m here to endorse a candidate.
It’s Joe Biden, in case you hadn’t guessed.
Not that my political leanings will shock you. But I’ve never explicitly endorsed a candidate because I’ve never felt that was my job. Unlike, say, Sean Hannity, I don’t believe a pundit campaigns for a politician. Rather, he’s there to call the proverbial balls and strikes. That doesn’t mean you don’t have opinions – having opinions is pretty much what they pay you for. But it does mean you’re fair. It does mean you hold everyone to the same standard and you’re willing to criticize those who need criticizing even if – especially if – they’re on your “side.”
That’s why, when the situation demanded, I smacked Bill Clinton with everything, including the kitchen sink. It’s why I dinged Barack Obama a few times. It’s why, once or twice, I even defended George W. Bush. I expect to treat Biden the same if he is elected. You won’t see his sign in my yard; I remain leery of being too deep in any politician’s pocket. But, I do offer him my first – and, I hope, only – endorsement, for whatever it’s worth.
He’s a better human being than Trump (it’d be hard to be worse), but that’s not why.
He’d be a better president than Trump (so would Homer Simpson), but that’s not why.
He has better ideas than Trump (which is to say, he has ideas), but that’s also not why.
No, I am abandoning a 26-year principle for purely selfish reasons. I want you to vote Biden because I want to go four days without saying, “What the hell?” And because I’m tired. You probably are, too.
So yeah, Biden 2020. Make the presidency boring again.
Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald.
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