Last Saturday, I walked through Mountain Lake Park. Several large groups of people gathered close together—without masks. In San Francisco! What message were they sending?

Donald Trump sent a clear message about covid-19 before returning to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center. Consistent with his support for bleach injections and hydroxychloroquine, he tweeted: “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” Did those in the park agree it’s okay to risk not only your life but other people’s.

Tuesday, Trump compared covid to the flu. He inflated annual flu deaths to 100,000. The Centers for Disease Control puts them between 12,000 and 60,000 over the past decade. Trump also stated that covid is far less lethal than the flu in most populations. Fact (bad in some circles): 212,000 Americans have died of covid since last February.

Sunday, Trump proclaimed, “I learned a lot about COVID. I learned it by really going to school, this is the real school, this isn’t the ‘Let’s read the book’ school, and I get it, and I understand it.”

Mazel tov! He earned a medical degree in less than a week and without cracking a textbook. Dr. Anthony Fauci wasted four years at Cornell University Medical College where, to his shame, he finished first in his class.

Maybe I’ll call myself Dr. David. I beat prostate cancer, so I know more than my urologist, radiation oncology team, cancer researchers reading pointless scientific journals and public-health officials like Tony Fauci.

I might also promote myself to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 1967, I graduated from the Army’s Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia and was commissioned a second lieutenant. I had no infantry experience beyond that, but so what? Trump knows more than the generals. Beating the draft based on deferments for college and bone spurs teaches you a lot.

Trump’s disdain for medical science and the American people reflects the self-promotion and endless search for adoration so typical of self-doubters. Don’t worry about covid? While the White House contains a sophisticated medical facility, his doctor sent him to Walter Reed for a reason. But Trump, still contagious, insisted on an early return to the White House. On arrival, Mr./Dr./General Macho promptly took off the mask he wore in transit.

In doing so, he again emphasized why so many Republican supporters, West Wing staffers, campaign workers, security personnel and White House residential staff tested virus-positive, especially after the Rose Garden event announcing the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The first two groups sat shoulder to shoulder, stood next to each other chatting and hugging. No masks.

Meanwhile, Trump stood committed to debating Joe Biden this Thursday until the Commission on Presidential Debates said the event should be virtual. The Commission has taken a rabbinic view, citing in its way pekuach nefesh—the primacy of preserving life. Trump? He may hold a rally tomorrow.

With the election three-and-a-half weeks out, is Trump on his way out? If justice is to be served and polls observed, yes.

But even if the polls are right, I fear a defeated cult leader taking the nation’s health and democracy to the brink and over. If that upsets you, I quote the president: It is what it is.

To respond, click on “comments” to the right just below the title of this post. Then go to the response space at the bottom of the post.


  1. David Newman on October 9, 2020 at 6:31 pm

    Hillel had something to say about wearing masks:

    “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” (I wear a mask to protect myself and my loved ones.)

    “If I am only for myself, what am I?” (I wear a mask to protect others, even those I don’t know.)

    “And if not now, when?” (I wear a mask whenever I am out in public because, as far as the virus is concerned, it is always now.)

    * * *

    Trump is increasingly showing signs of what they used to call ‘roid rage when athletes were taking performance-enhancing steroids. Hide the “football.”

    • David on October 9, 2020 at 6:40 pm

      You should start writing my posts, David.

      • David Newman on October 9, 2020 at 7:00 pm

        Then who would comment?

        • David Sperber on October 9, 2020 at 9:57 pm

          You so eloquently covered the anger and frustration most of us are feeling right now. Thankfully Gov. Whitmer is safe. Is he to blame? He certainly did not condemn the threat. I question his relationship with God. He is evil. Let this be the end of this.

          • David on October 10, 2020 at 12:55 am

            This is a challenging time, David. Re Gov. Whitmer, I’m a bit fan of “mindset.” This is a general feeling of what is and is not acceptable or desirable. Trump’s dog whistles have encouraged white supremacists and militia terrorists. As Kamala Harris said (don’t know who gave her the line), Trump dog whistles through a bullhorn.

  2. Nancy sg on October 9, 2020 at 8:21 pm

    Of course I agree with you, I also read the NY Times.
    Is this a passion play we are in?
    Is there a message I don’t get from the President?
    Am I missing something? Or am I just a just another Lefty.
    Or like the Emperor in the tale “the Emperor’s New Clothes” is he actually naked.

    • David on October 10, 2020 at 12:55 am

      He’s naked, Nancy. What he wants is to be considered a god.

  3. Emily Papert Williams on October 10, 2020 at 12:50 am

    Well put, David. Thank you!

    • David on October 10, 2020 at 12:53 am

      You are most welcome, Emily.

  4. Joan Sutton on October 10, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    Unless most people agree to wear masks, I don’t think we’ll be rid of this virus for many years to come. It’s quite simple and there should be graphics posted on public billboards to illustrate: aerosols linger in the air for hours and are carried through every breath with a 6 ft distance not sufficient. Your only protection is a mask. Thanks to your wife and my dear friend Carolyn Perlstein for making hundreds of masks and giving them to health and emergency workers as well as friends and acquaintances!

    • David on October 10, 2020 at 7:00 pm

      Perhaps, Joan, a new president will lead a program taat gets the message out to more people. Carolyn’s done a great job of making and distributing masks. So have you.

  5. Penelope De Paoli on October 16, 2020 at 6:55 pm

    The rise of the idiocracy that doesn’t want “them experts telling me what to do” is frightening. One can only hope the election will restore some sanity to the country. But IQ45 and his 30% of the population of true believers will still be around. Scary.

    • David on October 16, 2020 at 8:15 pm

      Scary indeed, Penny. A decade ago, who would have believed that an American president would pass on QAnon and other bizarre tweets?

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