In his remarks accepting his party's presidential nomination last week, Joe Biden took aim at Donald Trump's magical thinking. "The president keeps telling us the virus is going to 'disappear,'" the Democratic nominee said. "He keeps waiting for a miracle. Well, I have news for him, no miracle is coming."
The next morning, the Republican who succeeded Biden said the opposite.
Vice President Mike Pence praised the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.... He predicted a "miracle around the corner" regarding a potential vaccine, touting the administration's accelerated development push.
As a rule, Republicans overseeing national catastrophes should avoid phrasing like this. In the summer of 1932, with the nation in the grips of the Great Depression, then-President Herbert Hoover adopted a signature phrase: "Prosperity is right around the corner."
The Republican wasn't prepared to argue that the nation was in great shape, but he asked voters to believe his failed agenda would eventually start working.
Now, 88 years later, we're hearing a similar line from another Republican in national office -- except this time, it isn't prosperity that's "right around the corner"; it's a coronavirus "miracle" that's "right around the corner."
It's not just the rhetorical echoes that rankle: what Americans need is effective governance and a plan for success, not people in positions of authority waiting for a miracle.
Complicating matters, if Pence believes he's a credible messenger for this message, he hasn't been paying close enough attention. Indeed, whether the Hoosier is prepared to acknowledge this or not, the vice president has been repeatedly wrong about practically every aspect of the crisis for months, which is hardly ideal given the fact that he leads the official White House Coronavirus Taskforce.
It was in late April when Pence made a bold forecast, arguing that by early June the United States would be "largely past this epidemic." The Republican added that by Memorial Day weekend -- May 23 to 25 -- Americans "will have this coronavirus epidemic behind us."
This was, of course, tragically wrong. And yet, Pence continued to make a series of wildly optimistic predictions and assertions, including a notorious Wall Street Journal op-ed in June that quickly became a brutal embarrassment for the White House.
It's against this backdrop that the vice president not only thinks the Trump administration is doing a great job in the midst of failure, he also believes it's reasonable to expect a miracle.
Those who've taken Pence's earlier prognostications seriously have come to regret it.