Any contention that President Trump at last “gets it” and now understands COVID-19 better than his presidential opponent is true only in the sense that after months of dismissing public safety measures from his own administration, ridiculing citizens wearing facial coverings and demonstrating indifference about a death toll that now includes more than 210,000 of our fellow Americans, he finally contracted COVID-19. So, yes, the president might understand the malady better than Joe Biden, who took public safety measures seriously, heeded medical experts as knowledge about the virus increased and wore a mask, despite Trump’s taunts as late as last week’s presidential debate.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed say President Trump irresponsibly risked the health and well-being of others around him, a new CNN Poll reveals. And a poll of some 1,000 Americans by the data intelligence company Morning Consult and POLITICO shows that 55 percent of voters don’t trust Trump to report accurately the current state of his health with a similar share saying the same of his administration. And 63 percent say his own infection is unlikely to change anything about the way that he handles the pandemic, something surely proven by the president’s putting his protective Secret Service detail in unnecessary danger for a brief campaign appearance in an SUV outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
By Tuesday afternoon, he clearly had declined to set a better example for our confused nation. Facebook jettisoned his post-hospital assertion that the flu is deadlier than COVID-19.
We suppose the president can afford to be cocky about COVID-19. Most of us, if we contract COVID-19 after opting not to wear a mask and ignoring physical distancing recommendations, cannot expect to get the smorgasbord of medical treatments he received during his brief stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Nor can we be assured of having a doctor on call 24 hours a day if we suffer a relapse at home. Nor are we likely to get a helicopter ride between our residence and the hospital. And need we mention that while the president receives top medical care on the taxpayer dime (while paying less than many of us in taxes), his administration continues to press the Supreme Court to kill the Affordable Care Act while he and congressional Republicans offer nothing as a replacement.
While some Republicans suggest that his brief hospitalization is evidence not only of his physical toughness but also proof of media and medical exaggerations about COVID-19, we’ll side with Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, an otherwise fervent Trump supporter who drew the line at such talk, especially when it might lead to faulty and deadly assumptions. “I think he let his guard down,” Cornyn told the Houston Chronicle editorial board, “and I think in his desire to try to demonstrate that we are somehow coming out of this and that the danger is not still with us — I think he got out over his skis and, frankly, I think it’s a lesson to all of us that we need to exercise self discipline.”
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