Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday October 6, 2020

‘I’m back’: Trumpworld shows no sign of changing after Covid-19 diagnosis

There was a school of thought that Donald Trump might be humbled by becoming infected himself with the coronavirus, see the light and encourage Americans to stay safe. It lasted about as long as the hope that he would “pivot” to a traditional presidency after his inauguration.

Instead Trump has sought to project the strongman image, flying to the White House by helicopter at sunset, standing on the balcony and taking off his face mask while still contagious, bragging that he feels better than he did 20 years ago and urging the public to neither fear the virus nor let it dominate their lives.

His campaign has sent out fundraising emails preaching a similar if-I-can-beat-it-so-can-you-message, hoping to turn personal and political disaster to their electoral advantage against the cautious Joe Biden. It is very on-brand for a president who views illness as a weakness and seeks each day to make himself the hero of his own reality TV show.

“He’s operated in kind of cartoon icons his entire career, with iconic images and symbols of being a magnate, owning a football team, an airline, casinos, Mar-a-Lago,” said Gwenda Blair, a Trump biographer. “All these symbols of unbelievable riches were really powerful – that was a very successful manoeuvre and he’s kept it up. So now these photo ops that look ridiculous and dangerous have a certain resonance. Of course he’ll keep doing that.

“Now he is going to be an ‘expert’: he’s had it so nobody can tell him anything. If he ever even paused for a second for any medical advice before, that’s over. He knows more about wars than the generals; he will now know more about the coronavirus than any doctors.”

Trump, a disciple of the book The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, seems determined to wish his own serious condition away even if it means endangering his staff, Blair added. “All the people that he’s exposing by this, the poor Secret Service, the medical personnel, the pilots on the helicopter, all the White House staff. It’s mind-boggling.”

After Trump was discharged from Walter Reed military hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, on Monday night, his campaign sent fundraising emails with the subject headings, “I’M BACK!”, “Did you miss me?” and “Best I’ve felt in 20 years!” They told supporters: “I’m telling you: Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life!”

The messaging was, as so often, amplified by Republican allies and conservative media. Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida tweeted: “President Trump won’t have to recover from COVID. COVID will have to recover from President Trump. #MAGA.” (Guardian) https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/06/donald-trump-coronavirus-politics

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