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Op-Ed: Lordy, there are tapes! The October Surprise Comes Early

By Sam Youngman and Adam Parkohmenko

Quarantine has us all messed up. Days are running together. We’re sleeping like shit. 

So we had to check the calendar when esteemed journalist Bob Woodward dropped an absolute bombshell on the nation Wednesday. It looked like an October surprise. Turns out, we haven’t even hit mid-September. 

But unlike Green Day, we’re not waiting for September to end to wake up and appreciate this shocking development for what it is: The president of the United States -- on tape -- admitting that he lied to the nation about a deadly pandemic that has killed at least 190,000 Americans. 

That should be it. Ballgame. Nothing else should matter in this election. 

While Donald Trump and his friends in the press desperately want a close horse race with lots of ups and downs and gaffe coverage, this is and should be a referendum on the presidency of Donald J. Trump and how he lied to Americans and let them die while he played golf. 

And maybe one more day on the drowning boat morons in Texas. But then it’s right back to this bombshell report and the tapes that come with it. 

We are now in the sprint phase of this race. The conventions and Labor Day are behind us. Ballots in North Carolina have already been mailed out. There are things that can still change. Jobs numbers, poll numbers and all kinds of horse race horse shit. But the only changing number that should define this race is the death toll from COVID-19. 

In a few days, we will pass 200,000 Americans who have died from this awful virus. And thanks to Bob Woodward -- who sat on this critical information while people died -- we now know the president knew how deadly it was, how contagious it was the whole time. And he lied to us about it. Over and over and over again.

Nothing and nobody can change that. But they will try. 

Republicans were already hard at work Wednesday afternoon trying to spin this damnable revelation. Yeah, the Benghazi crowd has no problem with a president lying as America bodies pile up. But some things can’t be spun. Death tolls don’t give a rat’s ass about Lindsey Graham’s feelings, and grieving families don’t have the tolerance for Kayeligh McEnany’s lies that the White House press corps does. 

And what’s worse for Trump is this is happening after Joe Biden found his stride. Much like last week after we learned from The Atlantic that Trump is a piece of shit who dumps on our military -- ok, we already knew that -- Biden did a masterful job of channeling our anger and outrage about this latest story, calling it a “life and death betrayal of the American people.” 

“He knew and purposefully played it down,” Biden said in Michigan Wednesday. “Worse, he lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months.” 

And people were worried Joe Biden couldn’t throw a punch. Ha! Trump’s army of kiss asses are going to be wishing Joltin’ Joe was in his basement. 

The bigger question is how the media will treat this. Is this a Hillary’s emails story? Or is it an Ivanka’s emails story? 

Because it’s coming from Bob Woodward there is reason to believe the institutional beltway press won’t let this go. Because there are tapes, we can guaran-damn-tee you that Team Joe isn’t going to let it go. And neither should. These are real people with real families who are dead, in part, because the president of the United States is a cruel and selfish man who thought telling Americans the truth would hurt him politically. 

And that should be what decides this election. 

But that’s definitely not to say it will. As a nation, we’ve got the attention spans of fruit flies these days. But our lives have been turned upside down. People are out of work. People are dead. People are hurting. And we were lied to about it the whole damn time. Are we really going back to “Who would you rather have a beer with?” after something this shocking?! 

Well, maybe. 

Because so much of our presidential elections are made up of just endlessly silly bullshit, we sometimes forget that we’re conducting a national job interview for someone who is going to work for us. And we sometimes forget just how high the stakes are. When the line blurs between politicians and SNL actors, it can be easy to lose sight of what we’re supposed to be doing. And God knows few people skate through scandals and allegations like the orange asshole in the Oval Office has for the past few years. . 

But hopefully this is different. Because this is about dead Americans and lost jobs. Because this is about a cruel and dishonest man who lied to us. And because this time there are tapes. 

So are we going to hire the guy who let a bunch of us die and lied to us about it the whole time? Or do we just not care? It’s a scary question because after 2016, we know that the answers aren’t as obvious as they should be. Who knows if the electorate will be swayed by Bill Barr’s latest nonsense or another goddamn risotto recipe? 

But what we do know should make the choice pretty damn clear. Even if we’re not sure what day it is. 


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