President Trump is either a 74-year-old man who has reacted to the coronavirus in a way no other of his vintage has, is very sick but very good at putting on a happy face, or pulling off the best gas lighting of his career.


First published in October 2020.


Who knows?

Oh, right, his doctors do. And his docs are either reporting limited but accurate information on his illness, telling us only what their patient wants told or, as befitting their military rank, following the commander-in-chief’s orders.

Who knows?

Oh, right, his doctors do. And so does he.

Anyway, we do not. And that is not only unfair to the American people but the ultimate lie that Trump has told, which is a mouthful.

If Trump had let the disease run its course, and then said as his advisors reportedly wanted, that he now fully understands the effects of this horrible virus, he might have actually turned around his failing campaign. Humility and truth.

But, no – all in one sentence he could have accepted what health experts have been telling him for months (and fully accepted what he told Bob Woodward months ago) and admitted a mistake about the biggest threat our countrymen face right now. And, he would have saved lives.

I play golf with a few guys, all retired, a couple veterans, and I said to them the other day, “Trump really makes it difficult for us to root for him, doesn’t he?” Two immediately responded, in effect, “No, he doesn’t. I’m not rooting for him.” Another Facebook friend said “no” when I suggested she be nice when talking about this deadly disease and Trump.

These are not callous people. These are good people and loyal Americans.

It was just a week ago that the New York Times reported that Trump hasn’t paid taxes or paid an amount less than most middle-class Americans in years. It was just over a week ago, we think, that he was diagnosed positive with Covid-19. It was just a few days ago he helicoptered to Walter Reed to be cared for, given the most cutting edge (and not yet formally approved) drugs in existence; just a couple of days since he skipped the quarantine he was under to joy ride to wave to supporters, and just a couple of days ago he, apparently, ordered his doctors to release him from the hospital.

It was just two nights ago he stood, like Evita or Mussolini, on a White House balcony and, breathing heavily, dramatically ripped off his mask in defiance of medical advice and saluted, uh, Marine One apparently. That was akin to signing blank documents for the cameras while at Walter Reed to show he was sick but taking care of business.

Just a couple of days ago Trump, apparently, ordered his doctors to release him from the hospital. | Flickr – The White House

Now it appears his closing argument in his re-election campaign is, “The coronavirus isn’t so tough. I beat it. You will too. Don’t let it dominate you. I didn’t.”

Whether he wins or loses his battle with Joe Biden, this clearly is the nuttiest closing argument in history. As if a human being can, by will, fight off a deadly, infectious SARS virus, as if it’s easier than beating back the common cold.

“Stand with me. Don’t wear masks. Get close to others. You too can beat this.”

Quite a message. Such leadership.

The Joint Chiefs are under quarantine after being exposed to the virus. More than a dozen White House staffers have tested positive for the virus since Trump did. (Taiwan, the self-ruled island home to 23 million people – has reported just eight cases of covid in the last week. The White House has more than a dozen in the same period.)

But fear not! If you get it, you can beat it. Just ask the families of the more than 200,000 who have died from it or the 7-plus million who have contracted it, many of whom will suffer lifelong damage from it even if they recovered.

Is it possible for a 74-year-old man who is obese and has other complicating conditions to beat the coronavirus? Of course. I have an 80-year-old friend who survived it even after being in the hospital for months and begin intubated much of that time. I call him, “The Beast,” not because he defeated it by sure will, but that he outlasted it, somehow thanks to excellent medical care, thank goodness.

But Trump is saying he has beaten it even before he knows if he has. He is still infectious.

Still this is not the closing argument for a campaign to be re-elected President of the United States.

Is this the desperate last gasp (no pun intended) of a President trying to win an election? Are his actions a side effect of the not-fully tested drugs he is taking? Or a result of the steroid which is known for its side effects that could be the reason for his odd decisions such as calling off negotiations with Democrats for financial relief that is desperately needed by Americans? And just four weeks from an election? Is either option something you want in a President?

The two camps have battled over having appropriate health measures put in place to avoid covid spread. This is a battle? “I want us all to be safe,” says one camp. “You are safe,” says the other. It is a battle of machismo not a discussion about appropriate precautions to be taken.

Which kind of sums up the last nine months.🔷



B. Jay Cooper, former deputy White House press secretary to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.


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[This piece was originally published in The Screaming Moderate and re-published in PMP Magazine on 8 October 2020, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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