Throughout this star-crossed year, Donald Trump has routinely misled the country about the coronavirus. He stood on a debate stage Tuesday and mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask. Now it has to be asked: Did Trump hope to cover up his own Covid-19 infection?
It’s a harsh question as the President received treatment in the Walter Reed military medical center. Yet it is begged by his own dubious track record of disclosure and the White House’s characteristically murky handling of facts surrounding his illness.
In the first public briefing on Trump’s condition Saturday, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley offered general assurances that the President is doing well. (His upbeat assessment was quickly disputed by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, sowing confusion about the President’s condition.)
But despite his tortured efforts to avoid answering specific questions, which continued at a second briefing Sunday, Conley said just enough to provoke a controversy that would have been inconceivable at any other time and with any other President.
The President, who was counting on a strong economy as the lynchpin of his reelection campaign, resisted until he could resist no more the partial shutdown required to try and stop the spread of the virus. And he pushed too soon and too fast for a reopening that led to a new spike of cases in states where Republican governors followed his lead. He has routinely undermined the public health experts on his own coronavirus task force and placed communications on the virus in the hands of his political apparatchiks who worked to water down the guidance backed by science.
Now more than 209,850 Americans are dead, with projections that the toll could nearly double within months. The US, with just 4 percent of the world’s population, has more than 20 percent of the world’s COVID deaths.
That sorry record and the President’s malfeasance has justly cost him in his reelection campaign. It is a major reason why he has been unable to close the significant edge Biden continues to enjoy in national polls. It is the record Trump was hoping to outrun in the closing weeks.
Now he is facing a serious battle with the very virus he has downplayed for so long.