Few Americans wasted time hoping the coronavirus would finally catch up to President Invulnerable and his sizable number of recurring contacts. As to myself, neither will I devote any get-well wishes to the man whose moral recklessness has contributed to the virus’s ability to lead thus far to 7.5 million covid-19 cases, 4.9 million of whom recovered (fewer if we count the “long haulers”), .21 million deaths, and uncounted millions of persons whose economic pain has by no means been trivial. Almost certainly, he spread his virus-loaded breath even more on the very day he announced his first positive test.
Any worrying I do is reserved for persons who mistakenly assume their president has their best interests at heart. Many Americans are voluntarily wearing masks to protect others more than themselves. There’s no reason for the president to have less empathy than they. And with Trump’s faulty understanding about airborne viral transmission, many have been led toward practices that make them more vulnerable, not less. They’ve derisively laughed along with Trump in mockery of those who wear masks, treated distancing as silly and even dangerous, or were convinced their religion would save them. I’ve neither tears nor sympathy for Donald Trump, for his “strong flu” was self-imposed.
Even as late as a week ago I watched Mark Meadows, Chief of the White House Staff, say on camera the reason he didn’t have a mask on was that he’d tested negative that morning. I don’t for a minute think someone in his important position is unintelligent, though his statement was ridiculous. A test may be more or less accurate, but even if perfect, it isn’t remedial any more than a speedometer slows a vehicle’s speed. Consequently, making such an absurd remark reveals either a simple misunderstanding or some other factor, such as pleasing the boss. When other White House staff frequently make the same mistake, it appears more as if they’ve been admonished to do so. In any normal setting, I’d not arrive at so suspicious a conclusion. But we’ve learned that the White House is a setting where everything is played by Trumpian rules, such as minimal disagreement with Trump’s decisions and using words more to obscure reality than to clarify it.
We’ve observed repeatedly that White House staff seem to consider wearing a mask to be burdensome if not a symbol of weakness. If asked why they are not wearing a mask, they pull one out of a pocket or purse and say proudly they have one “if needed.” I assume that means when in in close proximity with others or in the presence of persons known to have tested positive. When not normally wearing a mask, to do so hurriedly at these times is better than not. But it isn’t always possible to know these conditions quickly enough or to make safe assumptions about others, such as when a person walks into someone’s small office unannounced. I have been on maskless strolls through a park, for example, when surprised by a couple quietly overtaking me in a narrow walking area. I’m not meaning to advocate masks in the shower here, just pointing out that when a risk is great, the value of caution becomes even greater.
Those in Trump’s camp who slavishly seek to please him have for almost four years gone to extremes to rearrange reality to fit his egotistical construction of it. Even after the advent of Covid-19, they are expected to endanger their lives to fulfill his political wishes. Republicans not directly dependent on Trump have little or no excuse, for ostensibly they have the freedom to think for themselves. Unfortunately, Trump’s rallies exert a social pressure to leave one’s mask at home. Pretty clearly, disciples’ decibels at rallies indicate that they to exercise their freedom sparingly. As to Trump’s side of the equation, the screams of adoring fans shower him with too large a narcissistic drug for any other pleasure to compete; not even the best ice cream can lure an addict away from his heroin.
So I’ll not be sending a get-well card, nor praying for Trump’s speedy recovery. Those hopes I’ll reserve for persons with decency, caring, honesty, and a detectible caring for the United States and its people, not to mention seven billion human beings trying to help each other live in this often difficult world.
[JohnJustThinking is an irregular commentary by me (unless otherwise noted) on social, ethical, scientific, and non-partisan political, partisan political, and cultural interests. More than 230 essays have been posted since mid-2013, all accessible from any page. If you choose to be a Follower, you’ll be automatically notified with each new post.]