Promising miracles, of course, has been a hallmark of Mr. Trump’s approach to COVID-19. Now that April’s warmth has arrived and coronavirus cases and fatalities continue to multiply, he has moved onto promoting a miracle cure in the form of a drug used to treat lupus and malaria called hydroxychloroquine.

At a White House briefing Saturday, Mr. Trump not only touted hydroxychloroquine as a possible cure, but even suggested taking it as prophylactic against the virus. “What do you have to lose?” he asked. “Take it.”

Mr. Trump’s own FDA says there is no proof of hydroxychloroquine’s efficacy and has further reported a “shortage” of the drug for lupus and arthritis sufferers — a shortage Mr. Trump’s exhortation is certain only to intensify. And by the way, “what do you have to lose?” has seldom been a hallmark of conservative sensibility.

Reverence for tradition, and those who embody it — the elderly — has been, on the other hand. But then COVID-19 came along and all of a sudden society’s elders were treated as so much detritus.