Trump falls victim to the virus: cue snark, schadenfreude—and conspiracy

And all the while, the election clock ticks down

October 02, 2020
Photo: Sipa USA/SIPA USA/PA Images
Photo: Sipa USA/SIPA USA/PA Images

At 12.54 am Friday morning, Eastern time, Donald Trump tweeted “@FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19.” Maybe 30 seconds later, social media was hit by a tsunami of snark, schadenfreude and conspiracy theories.

He’s lying: he doesn’t really have it, he just wants to avoid another debate with Joe Biden.

He doesn’t really have it: he just wants to divert attention from the New York Times’ devastating account of how he pays less income tax than a housekeeper in one of his hotels.

He might have it, and he’ll somehow try to delay the election or charge it wasn’t fair or emerge from the East Wing of the White House claiming to have had a vision of Jesus crowning him King of America.

OK, he has it, but he’s going to milk it to distract from the newly-released secret tapes, featured on CNN last night, in which Melania laments her White House duties: "I'm working my ass off on the Christmas stuff, that you know, who gives a fuck about the Christmas stuff and decorations?”

Or he’ll use it as a distraction from his slow (and distinctly half-hearted) condemnation of white supremacist groups or the revelation that the United States Department of Homeland Security produced “talking points” to defend the white teenager with the illegal gun who shot up Black Lives Matter protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin, or the fact that the Republicans won’t fund desperately-needed aid to states hard-hit by coronavirus.

Many of us can’t help noting—in our science-believing, progressive elite kind of way—that Trump constantly undercuts his own medical experts, claiming that injecting disinfectant or taking hydroxychloroquine might help cure coronavirus, and assuring us that Covid-19 will soon disappear “like a miracle.”

He taunts Biden for wearing “the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.” The White House has reportedly told its staff that masks aren’t a “good look,” so no wonder Trump ridiculed his opponent: “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask!”

Just as the Centers for Disease Control recommends.

The Biden family and their guests wore their masks at the debate the other night; the entire Trump family and their guests refused masks offered by the Cleveland Clinic, the distinguished hospital where the debate took place. Obviously to them, taking precautions against Covid-19 is somehow a Democratic Party thing, a “liberal” thing, a wimpy thing.

The White House physician says Trump’s “doing fine.” That’s the same doctor who says Trump—an obese 74-year-old who lives off junk food—is in fantastic health. But news reports too say he’s got “cold-like symptoms.” In any case, he’s grounded for 14 days: no rallies, no press conferences, though he’ll surely wear himself out tweeting and calling into his favourite Fox programmes.

Many—if the presidential polls are to be believed about 59 per cent—Americans think Trump brought it on himself. He tempted fate. He makes fun of science. He flaunts his ignorance. Nobody should wish death on him, and thankfully at the moment the White House reports he has only mild discomfort, but some have descended to referencing karma. Or, for the biblically-minded, “you reap what you sow.” Many of us remember how Trump mocked Hillary Clinton, who contracted pneumonia during the 2016 campaign. The Bidens, who are better people than most of us, have issued the statement: “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.”

Meanwhile, the election clock keeps ticking.