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Why Can’t Trump Be Straight With Us About His Health?

Opponent’s conspiracy theories are to be debunked, not corroborated.” – Yours Truly, 12 September 2016

I wrote that four years and a few weeks ago [1] as Hillary Clinton – facing a slew of idiotic conspiracy theories about hiding illnesses, decided that the best response was to … hide an illness. It was the first time I had ever seen a campaign faced with accusations of lying about a candidate’s health choosing to validate the accusation.

The second time was this weekend – from the very person who defeated Clinton – President Trump. To be clear, I do hope the president recovers. Anecdotal testimony I have seen regarding COVID is enough for me not to wish it on anyone. After the events of this weekend, however, I have to wonder if this Never Trump Conservative is actually more concerned for Trump’s health than he is himself.

For starters, we still don’t know when Trump actually came down with the virus. His announcement on Friday at 1:00AM led America to believe he caught it sometime on Thursday. By Saturday, his chief doctor announced he had contracted it Wednesday, before self-clarifying later to keep the Thursday time frame (WaPo [2]).

Yesterday morning, Dr. Conley compounded the confusion by refusing to answer any detailed questions on Trump’s condition (and admitting he wasn’t really forthcoming on Saturday). If Trump is trying to force his own doctors to comport their announcements to his narrative, that’s energy they can’t use treating him to the best of their ability. Trump is literally putting his lies ahead of his life.

As it happens, Trump’s lies aren’t doing very well either – as his own chief of staff briefed against them (Politico [3]). More to the point, even if he is discharged from the hospital later today (and while I highly doubt it, you, dear reader, may already know by now), he is likely to be far from full recovery. He might even still be in a position to infect others.

That brings us to the other problem with Trump’s dishonesty. We now know that Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination party at the White House was a Super Spreader event (Politico [4]).

While it was Hope Hicks’ positive test that first came to the nation’s attention, the virus has also infected members of Trump’s debate team – pointing to Trump himself as the source of the spread. Either way, we know that Trump was aware of Hicks’ infection before he went to Bedminster for a fundraiser – and he went anyway (CNBC [5]).

These errors all come from the same flaw: Donald Trump’s refusal to be honest with anyone (himself included) about his health and the risks to it.

Under normal circumstances, a presidential illness would unite the country in concern and support for the infected incumbent. This aren’t normal circumstances. Amanda Carpenter put is best in the Bulwark [6].

President Trump didn’t unwittingly contract coronavirus. He courted it. And, Republicans, eager to demonstrate their loyalty, followed his lead. They similarly held indoor events. They posted pictures to social media  [7]of themselves maskless, in crowds, as if to prove their defiance of basic science.

To say President Trump “failed” in his job to protect America isn’t quite right. Because he didn’t even try. What he did, instead, was focus on his reelection campaign to the exclusion of all else. People pleaded with him for months to take the virus seriously, and he refused. He lied to the public about it. He mocked those who were concerned by its progress. And he tried to pressure others—both within his administration and leaders at the state level—to do the same.

Donald Trump is the reason our country has been plunged into economic, medical, and institutional chaos.

And here it is important to make a distinction: Because unlike so many others, Donald Trump is not a victim of the coronavirus. He brought it on himself.

As he sits in isolation, facing the ramifications of his behavior, no one should hesitate to speak this basic truth.

Of course, everyone wishes Trump, his wife Melania, and other Trump staffers who have coronavirus well. We’ll hold them in our prayers. But, the country shouldn’t be in this situation.

That’s where we are. In less than a month, the American people will finish rendering its verdict on the Trump Administration. For obvious reasons, Republicans are hoping for a repeat of 2016.

This weekend, we did see a 2016 redux, but not in the way the GOP hoped. By being dishonest about his health, Trump is following in the footsteps of his prior vanquished opponent.

Over the course of the weekend, Donald Trump became the Hillary Clinton of 2020.