Having Been Infected, Trump Beset by Perceptions of His Attitude Toward Coronavirus

October 5, 2020 Updated: October 5, 2020


The early polls following the announcement that President and Mrs. Trump had contracted the coronavirus and that the president had gone to the famous suite at Walter Reed Hospital where many of America’s greatest military leaders have spent their last days, showed a move toward the Democrats.

This was presumably, and one dares to hope, not because the country generally shared in the hatred and misanthropy of most of the media and entertainment world for the president, perhaps most faithfully expressed in Saturday Night Live’s supposedly comical statement that their “hopes and prayers are with Covid.”

As Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and even Nancy Pelosi, managed to conduct themselves reasonably decorously over the news, however enchanted they might privately be by the thought of the president being silenced and discomfited for a time, the jump in the Democrats’ poll numbers is more likely to be a reflection of public opinion that the president had treated the coronavirus in a cavalier manner that had been confirmed when he was himself afflicted by it.

The Democrats were clearly settling into a quasi-campaign shutdown of 10 days or so in which their media echo chamber could mock the president for being laid low by his own insouciance and reduced to virtual exhortations from his historical hospital suite even feebler than Joe Biden’s from his basement in the last three months, (though uninterrupted by the honking of Canada geese that bedeviled Biden). (Among the illustrious military commanders who spent their last days at Walter Reed were Generals John J. Pershing, George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Creighton W. Abrams.)

This Democratic idyll of comparative advantage and serenity appears to have been premature, to judge from the president’s peppy video Sunday afternoon after his motor tour around the hospital perimeter to wave at his supporters cheering for him and waving Trump flags along the fence of the hospital grounds. It seems from the video that what the president has in mind is an escalation of his campaign to reduce public fear, protect the vulnerable, and accelerate the reopening of the country.

The Democratic version of events is that the president has made a complete ass of himself by holding large public meetings, where generally masks were not worn and there was no distancing, apart from the president himself not being within reach of his audience.

The Democratic congressional leaders, most vocally Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (New York), the most irreducible partisan of all the prominent Democratic senators, have ululated with joy that the president’s entire policy towards the coronavirus has effectively been exposed as a mistaken and humiliating fiasco.

A Knowledgeable Veteran

The emerging view of the president and his entourage, which we can assume that they will mount with stentorian determination if his recovery continues swiftly, is that the Democrats, and particularly slow-moving Democratic governors in large urban states, have retarded the economic recovery and severely affected the health and welfare of scores of millions of Americans for entirely partisan reasons, by cowering like their leader Biden in fear of a virus that is only really dangerous to a very small percentage of the population who are already seriously compromised by other ailments.

Prior to the coronavirus afflicting him, the president was already emphasizing that 99.997 percent of Americans under the age of 60 who contracted the coronavirus survived it, and that of all those above the age of 60, 95.04 percent survived it. He was already emphasizing that of those who died from the coronavirus, the great majority suffered from other illnesses that compromised their immunities.

In his remarks on Sunday afternoon, the president effectively declared himself a knowledgeable veteran of the disease. In stating that he had learned a great deal about it, not as one does “from reading books,” but from the incomparable school of experience, he implied that he was more qualified and determined than ever to lead the nation out of this public health crisis.

As long as his medical trajectory supports such a campaign, he is likely to be very formidable. There is no substitute for being able to say “I have experienced this problem and quickly overcame it and I am in the category of higher risk, and I say the nation must face the coronavirus with prudence and boldness.”

If the president is able to carry this off, it will have to be said that his powers of improvisation are remarkable. And if he accompanies this with an approach to the last two debates that is not bombastic, observes the rules, and essentially confines itself to reciting the accomplishments of his administration and the distinctions between the Republican platform and the Sanders-Biden socialist manifesto that has been officially adopted by the Democrats, it will almost certainly reenergize the Republican cause, which has sagged somewhat since the first debate.

It will then be moving at ramming speed. The Republican campaign office has already announced that the president will resume his campaign tours with the large airport meetings but that MAGA masks will be distributed and will be obligatory. It undoubtedly made a bad impression at the first debate when the entire Trump family sat quite close together, mask-less.

No episode this political year seems to linger long in the memory of the public; last Tuesday’s debate already seems to have been a month ago. If Trump’s recovery proceeds as swiftly as it now appears, it will be ancient history next week.

The levitation of Joe Biden’s relatively strong position in the polls has endured longer than I had thought that it would. But if the Democrats are to evict Donald Trump from the White House, it will require continued good fortune from Angels of death like the coronavirus, and will not occur without a mightier heave than the fragile and quavering Biden campaign has ever appeared capable of producing.

Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world. He’s the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and, most recently, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other,” which is about to be republished in updated form.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.