In our naiveté, many of us believed our world could not get crazier before Election Day. Then came the news: The president, first lady, and a handful of other Republicans, had tested positive for covid-19. At first, the Trumps tweeted that they would quarantine in the White House and we’d all get through this together. Okay.
Shortly afterward, the president was helicoptered to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Well, of course: no matter who occupies the position, we want them to get the best medical care available, and we got it, the apex of socialized medicine on the planet with a special presidential suite.
Controversy immediately erupts—the president’s favorite condition. When was he diagnosed? Was he given oxygen? What treatments are employed, and why, and when, and how often? Who is qualified for second guessing the team of doctors assigned to get him back on the golf course—er—campaign trail?
Of course, the medical team will try experimental therapies? Wouldn’t you? I would, and I am not the supposed leader of the free world, just one old guy trying to stay alive. The USA is already reeling from the pandemic, economic uncertainty, and the splattered rainbow of Black and Blue lives matter but Whites are supreme. Our election is upcoming, and we know that Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea would all love to throw more gunpowder into the mix.
Trump is 74, eight years older than I, more overweight, more active, traveling all over the country, mixing with dozens or hundreds of people to Make America Grate Again. From our place in the Ozark hills, I lack the stresses of his job, but I haven’t been to a restaurant or a concert or a party since March. When I do go out for household errands, I mask up, I stay back from people, I wash up when I get home, and catch my breath. I am just one guy, with very little impact or interaction with other folks, but I have swallowed the Kool-Aid that says people like me—an out-of-shape man over 60—is a good risk at dying from this sneaky novel coronavirus.
What a novel idea! To believe maps of the world, briefings from medical experts, testimony from survivors, photographs of refrigerator trucks lined with corpses like so many pork chops in my freezer. Also: I won’t get the best medical care on earth.
It’s a hoax, said the pres. Now, (I’m writing Monday morning) he says he been schooled, but “not let’s-read-the-book school.” How wonderful if he should emerge from Walter Reed and persuade his devoted followers that prevention and caution are needed. Remember his statement in 2016 that he could shoot someone down on 5th Avenue and his diehard believers would still vote for him? How Trump comes out of this hospitalization affects not only his acolytes but everyone. Should he actually be humbled and advise people to wear masks and maintain social distancing, he might not merely win reelection but save thousands of lives.
That seems unlikely, given his history. If the aggressive medical therapies succeed, he’ll come out with a swagger, “I told you it’s nothing more than the flu.”
The old cartoon possum Pogo said famously, “We have met the enemy and they is us.” The president who epitomizes hoaxes looked in the mirror one day and met his chief hoax. He can holler fake news, alternative facts, lying media about all the other hoaxes he has battled since inauguration day: the big beautiful wall that Mexico would pay for, the trade wars that China would pay for, the end of North Korea’s nuclear missile ambitions, the economy that would benefit by loading more tax cuts on Wall Street billionaires, the Post Office that ought to die, and so forth.
But this virus, invisible except under a microscope, but with undeniable visible effects on individuals, families, churches, schools, businesses, cruise ships, and sports, is suddenly staring him in the face, clogging his lungs.
Most Americans understand that the Trump administration has been a hoax from Day 1. What will it take to convince the rest?