Just a thought… Many Americans are likely feeling both sympathy and anger today; emotions that don’t necessarily mix well. [Jake Tapper, CNN State of the Union 4/10/20]
I’m keeping in mind that as you read this I may be asleep in my bed three hours’ time difference away; the news out of Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland could be more dire than whatever updates his health care team has provided up to the time of this writing. Or, the president may be on the road to recovery as his drive by for “patriots” was meant to signal yesterday, safety of the Secret Service in a limo hermetically sealed against chemical attack be damned. So I will apologize in advance if this hasn’t stood up. But I won’t apologize for how I feel.
I received a heartfelt email yesterday that pretty much summed up the tumult of emotions so many of us have been going through when G wrote, “Am I a horrible person?” She worried about not feeling any sympathy after Donald Trump purposely flouted precautions and potentially became a super spreader of the coronavirus himself, then was diagnosed with this virulent disease.
While the timelines about when he knew are blurry, most of us had been wondering how he hadn’t caught it already. He reassured people at every turn that he was being tested on a regular basis (although his team conveniently arrived too late for the mandatory testing that the Cleveland Clinic demanded before Tuesday’s presidential debate). Despite those assurances, you don’t need an MD after your name to know that regular testing is no more effective in preventing a viral disease than pregnancy tests are a great form of birth control.
Why wonder about timing, about subterfuge, about staged photos or probable and inevitable spreading? Because after four years of lies, 20,000 of them according to the venerable Washington Post (and indisputably honourable Torontonian Daniel Dale), why would we believe a single word from Trump, his grifter family, his crooked administration and especially his easily swayed medical team? (Remember: Trump has always manipulated his doctors into saying what he needs said, from bone spurs to “he’ll live to 200!” and that he was taller and weighed less than we could all actually see with our own eyes.)
Setting aside the propensity this man and his sycophants have demonstrated repeatedly to lie and obfuscate on the smallest of details, he could have done so much more to prevent not only his diagnosis but the deaths of over 213,000 people he swore in January 2017 to protect.
Trump knew when he spoke to Bob Woodward back in February. It’s on tape. And despite repeated confirmation from experts that masks help stop the spread of the virus, he defied science and safety and even as recently as last Tuesday (which does feel like ten years ago now) he derided his debate opponent for wearing “the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.” Well, at last check, Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden are free of Covid.
Trump’s team, including assistant Hope Hicks, debate prep partner former governor Chris Christie, media manipulator Kellyanne Conway, GOP chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and dozens more, are now sick with a virus that can hit hard (obviously) and leave a lifetime of complications for those who survive it.
Those complications would become pre-existing conditions to keep regular Americans – low income and vulnerable ones like those replenishing the pumpkin cheesecake buffet at the indoor and outdoor Rose Garden event, or coffee at the fundraiser in New Jersey, where Trump travelled for an indoor fundraiser when he most likely knew he had tested positive – from getting healthcare coverage if the Republicans’ plans to scrap Obamacare move forward.
And that’s the rich irony of the Rose Garden gathering last weekend that is emerging as a clear super spreader event: the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as nominee to the Supreme Court. Don’t forget, that very action is one that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on her death bed, asked to be postponed until after the election.
The temptation to give in to schadenfreude at worst, or call it karma at least, is strong. Taking the high road in regards to a man who has been the very epitome of evil criminality and callous casual racism, eschewing the norms set up by their venerated Constitution since first he rode down an escalator cheered on by paid supporters, is difficult, I’ll admit.
You and I are better than that, but he’s not. When Hillary Clinton had pneumonia during the election race in 2016, Trump ran attack ads and had his friend David Pecker at the National Enquirer post pictures of “Dying Hillary.” Just a reminder of how much he knows about compassion.
So where does that leave us? Wrestling with our emotions, waiting and watching, like much of the world. The anger of which Jake Tapper spoke was that this all could have been, if not prevented, then largely mitigated. That’s the real shame.
213,000+ Americans did not have to die under his watch. He could have implemented and urged precautions as soon as he knew – which we’re told was January – given a strong message to his base, his governors and to all Americans of every political stripe, income, colour and belief to wear masks and follow Dr. Fauci’s guidelines. But he had to be a cheerleader for his precious “numbers” – stock markets, recovery, polls. He had to make it political. He had to deliberately mislead. And, unless he decides to drive by his fans again, there he lies in a hospital bed.
Do we add that “lie” to the impossibly long tally, or take the higher road and hope for his recovery (even if that means to face jail time)? Here’s a way to experience the feelings that so many of us do about Trump and yet still be compassionate: in the words of Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union, “Get well and get your act together.”
Here’s a link to that four-minute piece if you’re interested in watching it. I thought it was perfect.