The world learned Friday morning that President Trump and the first lady have tested positive for coronavirus. We hope that they will recover quickly and completely from a disease that has taken the lives of more than 200,000 of their fellow Americans.

But the 2020 election is already underway. Absentee ballots become available on Monday, and Mainers should promptly mark theirs for former Vice President Joe Biden, doing their part to return this country to rational leadership.

The president’s infection hammers home a most important point in this election: The United States is leading the world on COVID, and not in a good way.

Our nation makes up only 4 percent of the world’s population but accounts for 20 percent of its COVID-19 cases and deaths – a testament to the dishonest, bumbling and heartless leadership Trump has provided, not just in this pandemic, but also throughout his 45 months in office.

There is no doubt that Biden is qualified for the job. He served 36 years in the U.S. Senate, and eight as vice president, which would give him more experience in federal government service than the last four presidents combined when they took office.

His empathy is legendary. He is famously generous, decent and kind.


But most importantly, he knows that the key question in this election is: What kind of country do we want to be?

That choice was illustrated Tuesday, when Trump turned the first presidential debate into a professional wrestling-style hype fest.

When he insulted the memory of Biden’s late son, or when he refused to denounce white supremacist hate groups, we learned a lot about Trump’s character.

When he turned what was supposed to be an informative exchange of ideas into a disorganized slop of insults and lies, we learned a lot about his style of leadership.

But we learned nothing about his plans to address the four historic crises that America is facing: a deadly pandemic, a deep recession, racial injustice too obvious to deny and the accelerating consequences of climate change.

Trump didn’t talk about those plans because he doesn’t have any. The president runs the country like one of his businesses, which means that he leaves a trail of broken promises, lawsuits and bankruptcies wherever he goes.


Nearly eight months into a national public health emergency, there is still no coherent strategy to fight COVID. Hours before testing positive on Thursday, Trump said that the end of the pandemic was “in sight,” but it is not.

For years, biosecurity experts have been running simulations that predict how a virus could spread around the world and what it would take to stop it. What they didn’t anticipate was Donald Trump.

No scenario imagined that the United States of America, with all of its resources, would be the country that put up the weakest response.

No one imagined a U.S. president would publicly call a virus a hoax, while privately acknowledging its danger. No model predicted that America would waste precious months when the disease could have been contained because our president was more concerned about spooking Wall Street than he was about saving lives.

Biden may not be a perfect candidate, but he has developed a moderately progressive policy agenda and has the political know-how to advance it.

He’s put together a broad coalition of supporters, ranging from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on the left to former tea party Gov. John Kasich of Ohio on the right. They are united behind Biden even though they both have fundamental disagreements with him. They understand that the threat posed by extending the Trump presidency is far greater than any specific policy difference.

Trump should take all the time he needs to recover from what can be a serious and unpredictable disease. But Joe Biden should be our president.

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