President Donald Trump has reminded the world why the country is in such dire straits under his leadership.
Returning to the White House while still infected with a potentially deadly virus, he ostentatiously turned to the cameras and removed his facemask before walking in, making his every breath inside the building a threat to the health of the people working there. It was one more grotesque piece of Trump’s coronavirus theater of the past few days, which for some reason he thinks will boost his political prospects, but more likely horrified those increasingly appalled by his behavior.
If you thought that after coming face to face with his mortality the President would experience a life-changing moment of deep introspection, you were wrong. On the contrary, Trump’s illness appears to have solidified his unwavering faith in the catastrophic policies that left not only him and his staff unprotected from a pandemic, but encouraged Americans to take deadly risks and pay with their lives.
Three days after the Marine One helicopter performed a medical evacuation of the President of the United States from the White House lawn, Trump tweeted a startling message; startling, because it shows an utter inability to learn from experience. After announcing he would leave the hospital on Monday, he tweeted to tens of millions of followers:
“Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”
It’s a message that will cost more lives.
Most people, after enduring a jolting, potentially life-threatening event, emerge changed, even if only temporarily. There was a chance Trump would realize he had not warned Americans enough about the virus; a chance he would recognize that his nonchalance had resulted in deep suffering among those who ended up sick or who lost a loved one who followed his advice about masks and social distancing not being essential. There was a slim hope that after enduring Covid-19 he might say, or at least think, “I was wrong. I should be more careful and tell the American people that we should all take the disease seriously.”
Not him. Nothing has changed.
It’s all theater. It’s all show. Who else puts on a suit and tie for an emergency helicopter ride to the hospital? It’s all about creating an image and benefiting from it.
That has been his tactical approach to the pandemic all along. Tell Americans the virus is no big deal, get on with your lives, so that he can continue claiming that he’s doing a great job as President. It’s the strategy that has left the United States with the highest number of infections and deaths in the world — 4%