Trump positive test for COVID-19 knocks everything else out of focus
It was impossible to fathom that anything could’ve knocked out of the headlines the recent Supreme Court vacancy created by liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death three weeks ago -- and the subsequent appointment of conservative constitutionalist Amy Coney Barrett to succeed her -- but Friday’s report of President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump testing positive for COVID-19 managed the feat nicely.
I learned of the news a few hours after President Trump tweeted it out. My early rising daughter texted me at just after four in the morning, leaving a message that read simply, “Trump and Melania got corona”. What a way to be jolted awake. Ever since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP, or Wuhan, if you prefer) virus started dominating the media in early 2020, one had to figure something like this would occur. But to infect the president of the United States?
How could it possibly happen? Sure, the doubters and self-appointed “experts” are chuckling under their breath about Trump not taking the virus seriously and carelessly dissing on masks, but supposedly everyone who gets within social distance of the president is screened beforehand to ensure his safety. Yet the virus managed to elude the voluminous protocols and strike at Trump and Melania nonetheless.
(Note: Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis also tested positive, as did former advisor Kellyanne Conway, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien. The common point seems to be the ceremony to announce Barrett last Saturday.)
Immediately, folks harkened back to the previous few days before Trump’s revelation. How many people had the first couple come into contact with? Was Joe Biden exposed at the debate? Will the entire White House have to be scrubbed, cleaned and disinfected? What about Baron? What does it mean to “quarantine” anyway? Will Trump be able to discharge his duties while staying completely away from people? (His doctor assured the public that he would, and he’s been moved to Walter Reed med center for monitoring.) Do Mike and Karen Pence have it too? (Again, not according to preliminary tests.)
And perhaps most saliently, what about the campaign? What about the election, now less than a month away? David Mark wrote at The Washington Examiner, “[A]n I-told-you-so response by [Joe] Biden and his supporters would likely backfire, stirring sympathy for his White House rival and wife.
“One immediate decision for Biden is whether to suspend his campaign. If Biden continues on pressing for votes, his schedule is likely to be altered to focus exclusively on taming the coronavirus. Biden would likely discard overt political rhetoric, instead focusing on science related to the pandemic…
“The COVID-19 diagnosis for the president and first lady virtually guarantees the pandemic remains front-and-center for the bulk of the presidential campaign. The pair are quarantined for 14 days, which raises questions about Trump's in-person participation at the scheduled Oct. 15 presidential debate.”
Democrats had already been talking about ditching the final two debates, and the Trump positive test appears to hand them the perfect excuse for doing so. Biden could easily cancel his in-person campaign events in the next two weeks as well, citing “sensitivity” to the president’s condition and the public’s overt fear of being similarly stricken with the virus.
Some of the initial shock has worn off and the panic has died down considerably. Most people realize that the vast, vast majority of individuals who contract the virus recover as though nothing was ever wrong. Just within recent memory, 67-year-old Congressman Louie Gohmert tested positive and fully recovered as did 63-year-old former Texas Rep. Steve Stockman who was wrongly and unfairly convicted of fraud by a biased prosecutor and then confined to prison, where his captors wouldn’t release him along with other prisoners even though he has several co-morbidities.
Golfing legend Jack Nicklaus, age 80, similarly revealed he and wife Barbara tested positive earlier this year and recovered with few or no symptoms. They didn’t want to cause a big public stir. This isn’t possible where President Trump’s concerned.
The daily positive case tallies continue to rise, as does the national death toll from those who died with the virus (not necessarily because of it). Because the media takes glee in such things, several outlets were happy to point out that because of Trump’s age and “obesity”, that he fits within the high-risk category. Media reports hint at what kind of treatment the president and first lady are receiving, but here’s guessing it includes every proven method of battling the virus.
Trump has certainly received enough first-hand reports on the virus to fill-up a warehouse. Is there anything he doesn’t know about it?
What the nation can’t do now is use Trump’s condition as an impetus to radically change course on COVID-19 policy or the upcoming election. Nearly seven months into a lockdown that’s touched each and every American life in some form, we’re a lot smarter as to the realities of the threat. Simply put, the virus appears easily transmittable but certainly didn’t equate to a death sentence for upwards of 95 percent of the people confirmed to have had it. When you take into account the huge number of people who showed no symptoms and were therefore not tested, the survival rate is likely well north of 99 percent. COVID-19 is deadlier than the seasonal flu, but by how much?
We’ll learn a lot more in the coming days as to how “sick” President Trump and Melania become. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson got the virus back in April and needed hospitalization and a stay in intensive care to beat it. But the virus doesn’t impact everyone the same and Trump will receive the best care from the outset. And he’ll also get something that no doctor’s medicine could provide him -- badly needed rest after what’s been a heck of a year. Just imagine what he’s been through since the beginning of 2020.
Prayers and well-wishes are in order.
The 800 lb. gorilla in the room -- how will this impact the campaign and the election?
For going on four years now, Americans have been subjected to a steady media diet of broadsides concerning Russian interference in the 2016 election and how the enemy possibly influenced the outcome. Recent revelations indicated that the Democrats, FBI and the Hillary Clinton campaign were behind much of the conjecture. Russia this, Russia that, but in the end, most of the trouble originated on this side of the Atlantic Ocean courtesy of adversaries within our own government.
But there’s no doubting this one now -- the Chinese Communist Party has meddled in our election this year, and we can’t allow them to change the outcome because of it. Whether it was intentional or not -- and here’s thinking it was definitely on purpose -- the “novel” coronavirus has impacted the entire world. Global deaths have now topped one million, which is still a relatively tiny number considering the earth’s human population is rapidly moving towards eight billion -- but the psychological damage is inestimable.
Nothing like a pandemic to get people panicked. Practically every country in the world has altered its social customs to deal with the virus, which has spread to every corner of the globe. Various countries have taken different approaches, with places like Sweden having observed more of a business-as-usual regimen and others, like Spain, having cracked down hard, yet not enjoyed any greater success in keeping people from getting sick.
Cold, hard statistics provide little comfort to people, yet this pandemic is relatively mild in comparison to a number of historically dangerous plagues. The infamous “Black Death,” bubonic plague, killed us much as 40 percent of Europe’s population in the so-called dark ages (the mid-14th century). Today’s figures are nary a rounding error by contrast, but to point it out makes one “insensitive” and “unserious” when people are frightened of a media-fanned health disaster.
During last week’s debate, for example, Trump correctly pointed out that you can’t trust statistics from Russia and China as to their real mortality totals. Is the true death toll much higher and we don’t know about it? Even so, modern medical science is keeping morbidity rates low. To base one’s vote on the direction of the country on COVID-19 just doesn’t make sense. But tell that to the person who has lost a loved one or knows someone who knows someone who died (I think this describes many of us).
Other possible effects:
We don’t precisely know the timeline of when Trump actually contracted the virus, but it could work as a deflector towards his unusually harsh mindset during last week’s debate. I commented that Trump looked tired and irritated during the program, which certainly could have contributed to his surly demeanor. No one claims that Trump is jovial and a welcoming presence to people he doesn’t like -- such as Grampa Joe Biden -- but even so, the unabashed hostility was uncharacteristic for the lifelong real estate mogul and reality TV celebrity.
Let’s not forget, some commentators in 2012 reasoned that President Barack Obama’s lethargic performance in that year’s first presidential debate might have been due to not getting accustomed to the high altitude in Denver (where the event was held). Whatever the reason, the big O came back much stronger and seemingly more prepared when he squared off with Mitt Romney in the second debate (with a big shove from “moderator” Candy Crowley, too).
Could catching the coronavirus be Trump’s Hurricane Sandy? It seems strange to mention it, but events and occurrences that are larger than life can easily impact voter attitudes. Americans were on the verge of voting out Obama eight years ago when a huge late-season storm hit the New York area, providing just the right opening for the flailing lifelong community organizer to look empathetic and like a true leader. Obama’s “hug” with New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie was probably worth a couple points alone.
The virus could do for Trump what practically nothing else could, depict him as an “average guy” who gets sick just like everybody else. It would be in extremely poor taste for Biden and Democrats to rip into him now… what if he gets really ill? The last thing Democrats want is to be viewed as is heartless and lacking compassion, even for someone they despise -- like Trump.
It's hard to label someone a lying racist who’s just in it for himself when the man is convalescing from what liberals view as an aggressive, dangerous disease.
Maybe, maybe not. But it’s hard to see how testing positive for COVID-19 will ensure defeat for Trump. His voters are already locked in, and, as indicated above, those who might be wavering might see the ailment as the cause of Trump’s poor debate showing. Just saying.
Polls show tales of Trump’s post-debate demise were premature
Even prior to the news of the president’s and first lady’s bout with COVID-19, surveys showed that Trump was holding steady -- or even gaining ground on challenger Grampa Joe Biden. Paul Bedard reported at The Washington Examiner, “The media panned President Trump’s rowdy debate performance, but it appears that it helped him and he is ‘on the rise again,’ according to the first post-debate approval survey. Sliding from 52% approval over the weekend to 46% Wednesday, Trump is back up to 49% Thursday in the daily Trump tracking poll of likely voters from Rasmussen Reports.
“According to the poll analysis, ‘This survey is the first to include a night of polling following the first presidential debate between Trump and Democrat nominee Joe Biden. The president's approval ran in the low 50s for 10 days through the end of last week but dropped as low as 46% in the first three days of this week following his nomination Saturday of federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. Now his approval appears to be on the rise again. By next Monday morning, all 1,500 voters in the daily tracking survey will have been polled following Tuesday night's contentious debate.’
“Meanwhile, Gallup pushed Trump's approval rating up on Thursday to 46% from 42%. And, it said, ‘56% expect Trump will win the election; 40% think Biden will.’”
In other words, many observers, myself included, might have been off-base in suggesting that Trump’s uneven debate showing could cost him with crucial swing voters. It’s important to remember that Joe Biden didn’t do well in the event either, haplessly defending his crooked son Hunter and saying that Antifa is an “idea and not an organization.”
That “idea” just shows up in city centers with lasers, umbrellas and urine bombs -- and breaks lots of stuff and assaults people. Biden couldn’t name a single law enforcement entity that supports him and said the “Green New Deal” would pay for itself.
Grampa Joe doesn’t even know what he believes. Trump’s zingers exposed the lack of foundation. And now, the COVID-19 narrative has completely changed. Might Trump earn some empathy?
The news of President Trump and first lady Melania contracting COVID-19 rocked the political world. In a year when practically everything that could happen has happened, it was the latest wrench in an already faltering American electoral machine. With four weeks to go until Election Day, lord only knows what will transpire between now and then. Stay tuned.
Supreme Court nomination
Ruth Bader Ginsburg death
Amy Coney Barrett
Walter Reed Hospital