Oct 05, 2020 Editorial
Kaieteur News – On Friday morning, the news resounded around the world that President of the United States, Donald Trump, was tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. If the pattern is anything to go by, he might likely join his two compadres in recovering successfully from the disease, the world leaders with whom he shares strong mutual admiration, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonarro and the United Kingdom’s Boris Johnson. Like his fellow outrageous right wing heads of state, Trump spent the past few days being afforded the best care his country can offer, even as thousands of his citizens have fallen victim as much to the disease as to inadequate, often sloppy policy action by his administration.
History is not void of examples where a leader’s hubris and intransigence ended up laying catastrophe at their doorstep. What is clear however, as is perhaps fitting for a man who prefers to refer to himself and his achievements in superlatives, never has it been on as grand a scale as this. Every primary school infographic on how COVID-19 spreads could form the basis of a presentation on how Trump’s policy of denial and misinformation was directly linked to his own infection – simply put, the more people, particularly those in his ambit and under his influence, did not adhere to basis social distancing and other precautionary measures, the more his own chances of contracting the virus grew exponentially.
When, in late July, former the Republican nomination aspirant turned rabid Trump supporter, Hermain Cain, died from the coronavirus after attending a Trump rally unmasked, that should have been a wakeup call for the American president. Instead, he would go on to solidify his reputation as a viral source of misinformation on the virus. A study by Cornell University in the United States, looking at 11 sources of misinformation on COVID-19, found that Donald Trump was overwhelming the largest. As the New York Times reports:
“…by far, the most prevalent topic of misinformation was “miracle cures,” including Mr. Trump’s promotion of anti-malarial drugs and disinfectants as potential treatments for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That accounted for more misinformation than the other 10 topics combined, the researchers reported.”
It is not without irony that news of Trump’s infection came just two days after his belligerent, evasive “presidential” (it was anything but) debate with former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, a debate during which Trump not only justified his mismanagement of the disease but mocked Biden for wearing a mask too often.
The reaction to Trump (and his wife, Melania) being infected, has been understandably mixed. In addition to recent revelations that the President earlier this year publicly down-played the serious of the virus while admitting privately to journalist Woodward that he knew how dangerous it actually was, the First Lady herself has received some flack due to revelations of her comments on the treatment of migrant children being held at the US border.
One would hope that his own brush with the deadly virus, one that has so far taken the lives of 200,000 of his citizens, is going to offer a road to Damascus experience in how he treats this disease. That however is unlikely. As Saturday’s editorial in the UK Guardian observes:
“If Trump can ride out the infection in hospital, overcome potentially negative factors such as his age (74) and his obesity, and emerge from quarantine within 10 days or so, it’s conceivable he could again turn the personal to political advantage. Boris Johnson briefly managed this trick in Britain after he left intensive care in April. In such a case, Trump may portray a reprieve as proof of his contention that the Covid-19 threat is overrated.”
There is of course the other alternative outcome but the chaos that implies is too complex for a single piece of writing. As the election countdown continues, however you feel about the American president, his recovering from COVID-19 with or without the hoped enlightenment – is the best possible scenario, not only for himself but for everyone else. At least in the short-term.
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