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.