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Anne Mikolay

Irony ruled the day President Trump’s positive Covid test came to light. His consistently dismissive attitude toward precautions against Covid and his downplaying of the virus itself had seemingly come back to haunt him.

The world waited to see how Trump, a self-proclaimed expert on all things, would react to his misfortune. Would he retract the Covid misinformation he avidly promoted, or would he positively spin the news of his diagnosis as only Trump can? Prayers and well wishes poured forth even from Trump’s harshest critics upon his admittance to Walter Reed. Trump’s surprise release from the hospital after a mere three days, however, rendered such concerns pointless. The man people worried about and prayed for, who now claimed to “understand” Covid, to “get it,” posed on the White House balcony like a triumphant king, albeit breathless, and once again proved his actions speak louder than his words. Rather than seizing the moment to demonstrate the importance of social distancing and masks during this pandemic, Trump removed his mask before entering the White House, thereby endangering the health of nearby staff and employees. If that wasn’t bad enough, the President prolonged their exposure to a Covid patient while he retaped his White House return (the first video was not to his liking). At that point, it was clear that those who had hoped for a change in the President’s attitude as a result of testing positive had been “trumped.” The man who claimed to “get it” had actually learned nothing at all.

If Trump experienced an empathetic moment during his Covid scare, it must have passed quickly. Since his release, Trump has continued downplaying the virus, telling the American people, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” a message that contradicts the advice of public health experts. Trump has suggested he is immune to Covid. Of course, reason dictates Trump can’t be immune to a virus he currently has, but Donald Trump is not a reasonable man.

Trump’s unhinged behavior at the recent presidential debate and his posturing, in full orange makeup, on the White House balcony brings the doubt, confusion, and apprehension of the past four years sharply to the forefront. That is nothing to celebrate or applaud. It’s embarrassing and made all the more disheartening by the disregard displayed by Trump’s own family. Trump is teetering on the edge, yet they do not pull him back. Instead, they enable him, egg him on, so they can further enjoy notoriety and privilege.

Donald Trump’s Covid diagnosis presented a perfect opportunity to prove to the world he is a man of empathy, intelligence, and action, someone humbled by adversity and willing to share wisdom gained. Donald Trump missed his chance to show the world he comprehends the life-altering effects of Covid. He missed his chance to lead by example, to show the American people the importance of masks and social distancing in fighting the pandemic, and to let them know he understands what they are going through. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump did not recognize the opportunity he had been given and let it slip by, choosing instead to foster the Super President myth he has created.

There’s no point in analyzing Donald Trump’s personality, which has been done ad nauseam, and no point in speculating about the severity of Trump’s illness. To coin the President’s own phrase, “It is what it is,” that being a prime teaching moment totally wasted by Trump, his advisors, and his family.

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