Essential reporting in volatile times.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.

Learn more about HD Media

U.S. Sen. Shelly Moore-Capito, R-W.Va., and other Republicans, tug at the fraying threads of their credibility as they join the president in a breathless dash to replace the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg prior to election day. Outsiders view their exertions as practice for the Olympic hypocrite-a-thon.

In 2016, when President Obama tried to fill a seat on the court, Sen. Capito scurried in the opposite direction, saying the appointment should be held off until after the election — which was eight months off. “With just a few months until the election,” she said at that time, “West Virginians should have an opportunity to express their views and elect a new president.” In black and white contrast to that, on Sept. 21 this year, Sen. Capito, speaking with the mouth on her other face, said, “I support the choice to move forward with the confirmation process [before the election].”

Nevertheless, Sen. Capito is far from alone. Even the evangelicals have given over to Trumpism as they now embrace the dreaded moral relativism. They look at their shoes while telling us that Mr. Trump has some flaws but is doing great things for America, as the presidential undertow carries them, and their values, out to sea.

Of late, the president’s de facto replacement of Dr. Fauci with Dr. Scott Atlas on the COVID-19 team prompted a reporter’s question: “How is it you don’t trust your own experts? Do you think you know better than they do?” In a tribute to the effects of an adult life surrounded by “yes” men, the president replied, “Yeah, in many cases, I do.”

The newly anointed Dr. Atlas, who has no background in epidemiology but who often appears on Fox News, has advised that we need more cases of COVID-19 so as to achieve herd immunity. But actual experts say a slog down that path would require that we agree to the deaths of more than two million Americans. I graciously offer my spot in that national service to Dr. Atlas.

The president’s craven disregard for anything apart from his own reelection (and a reprieve from the clutches of the federal prosecutor in New York’s Southern District) has been further revealed by Mr. Trump himself in tapes provided to us by writer Bob Woodward. In February, Trump said of COVID-19, “This thing is a killer. ... It is the plague.”

Simultaneously, the president was telling citizens not named Bob Woodward, “It’s a little bit like the regular flu,” and that it would go away. Now caught with his mask down, the president “explains” that he downplayed the virus (later strangely saying that he had actually “up-played” it) to avoid panic among the masses. Isn’t he the same president who attempted to horrify us into panic with talk about scary caravans at the border?

Then there is the recent report from a charter member of the White House COVID-19 Task Force, Olivia Troy, who resigned in disgust. She disclosed that Trump once said that perhaps the virus was a good thing because he would no longer “have to shake hands with these disgusting people.” Meaning his supporters, evidently.

I am told that a member of the Mingo County Board of Education has been seen wearing a shirt that reads, “I’d rather have COVID-19 than Biden ’20.” I humbly suggest that Sen. Capito contemplate the darkness of the depths to which Donald Trump has dragged her constituents, then reconsider the wisdom of shoveling more coal into the fires of his pathological neediness.

Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist and emeritus professor at Marshall University. He may be contacted at