Bob Franken




This wasn’t some irresponsible young people crowded in some bar most not wearing masks, this was a group not so young but equally irresponsible people, packed together in the Rose Garden, most of them not wearing masks. The President of the United States has called them together to welcome his new Supreme Court nomination. Now President Trump is in the hospital, battling a case of Covid, the First Lady is similarly infected, and so are many of those in attendance, who should know better, but obviously don’t.
The “thoughts and prayers”platitudinous statements of concern are flying around like crazy. But what were the well-wishers really thinking? (In Mike Pence’s case it was “love and prayers.” More about him in a minute.) I mean, what can you say in public? But in the cynical, transactional realm of politics, most of the uninflected are gathered with their advisers right now to decide what it means for the campaign and for themselves.
The news was conveyed overnight Friday by the president himself. By Twitter, of course: “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19,” FLOTUS meaning the first lady. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Joe Biden was his usual empathetic self as he tweeted a statement about the man he had described as a “clown” and told to “shut up” a couple days before:
“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery. We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.”
In case you need it, here’s the translation: “What does this mean to me? I shared a stage just a couple days ago at the Psycho in Ohio debate!” What it also meant is that Biden was tested for Covid right away and showed negative.
For good measure, Kamala Harris weighed in with “wishing President Trump and the First Lady a full and speedy recovery.”
Phony sentiment aside, it also will inspire countless huddles with campaign advisers gaming out how to play this. It suggests that Trump has been handed an excuse to skip debates two and three with the man who wiped the floor with him in their first encounter.
That left Mike Pence and Harris to verbally duke it out after Pence, who gets tested every day, registered a negative. And so did his wife, the one he drags to every meeting and lunch that he has with a woman.
Of course,

Trump has to worry about some sort of 25th Amendment takeover of the presidency if he gets sicker. Contrary to what he has said in public, the coronavirus is nothing to trifle with. Not with “reopening” the economy, which has predictably caused a new spike in cases, and not with his rallies, where he throws red meat to the crowds that are jammed together, in most cases, without wearing masks, so his passionate followers can get the total impact of his hate speeches. They expose themselves to the full force of the coronavirus, too. It’s unclear how many of his base have been lost to the deadly virus.
You can’t really count how many of his aides have been infected, how many visitors to his campaign events that he’s used as human props and how many reporters have been exposed, although you wouldn’t expect him to have any qualms about the fate of the purveyors of “fake news.”
Usually information would be coordinated by the press secretary. But no one believes anything that Kayleigh McEnany says. Happily, the White House leaks like a sieve, so journalists can rely on “sources” to get the straight scoop.
Meanwhile, his opponents can revel in the hundreds of times Donald Trump has belittled the pandemic. During the debate he ridiculed Biden: “I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
Tempting though it might be to be snarky, most public officials will maintain their decorum. But ordinary trolls who use anti-social media to spread their bile already have, by the millions.
Once again Donald Trump has provided the campaign with an “October surprise.” But then, Trump has surprises every day.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Posted in Uncategorized

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap