The first question that crossed my mind when I awoke to the shocking news that the President had tested positive for COVID-19 was how a renowned germaphobe like Donald Trump had contracted it in the first place. But this is the reality we’re dealing with now and there’s nothing that’s going to change the diagnosis. So what happens next?
I’m not going to join in with those who are taking an overly optimistic view. We should be realists in this moment. The good news is that the President has access to some of the best medical care on the planet, so if anyone could be considered to have a positive outlook, President Trump would be counted among them. But at the same time, we know that he’s in the age group that’s considered most at risk for being seriously affected and the virus is notoriously fickle in terms of who it strikes the hardest and who shrugs it off with few ill effects beyond the symptoms associated with a mild case of the flu. We’ll know soon enough, I’m sure.
Last night, Ed and John considered some of the possible implications. It’s impossible to consider this development without wondering what impact if any, it will have on the election. My first reaction was to think it would be minimal. Trump’s avid supporters aren’t going to bail out on him just because he’s fallen ill and his detractors are highly unlikely to suddenly toss him a sympathy vote because of this news. But there are still plenty of generally disengaged people who will be voting (or are already voting) who might be persuadable in either direction. It’s conceivable that some of them may not feel as confident handing another term to someone who is potentially facing an imminent health crisis.
For that group of voters, the result will likely depend heavily on how the President’s body responds to the virus. As we’ve seen all around the world, it’s entirely possible that Trump will be one of the asymptomatic people who are ready to get back to business in a couple of weeks. But it’s equally possible that 32 days from now he could be on a ventilator. The First Lady is considerably younger and always seems to be in excellent physical shape, so hopefully, she’ll shake it off more easily. But it’s not logical to pretend that this news won’t have any impact on the election results.
While much of the nation prays for the president, the usual vultures began circling immediately. One of the more execrable responses came from NeverTrumper Tim Miller at the Bulwark. I won’t dignify his evil remarks by quoting him here, but it was really offensive. Others were quick to try to turn the news to their political advantage by suggesting that the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation hearings should be canceled.
By contrast, one of the most far-left voices in the country offered up some of the kindest comments imaginable after the announcement.
God bless the president and the first lady. If you pray, please pray for their speedy and complete recovery — and for everyone infected, everywhere.
This virus is horrific and merciless — no one would wish its wrath on anyone.
We must get its spread under control. Enough.
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) October 2, 2020
No matter what happens, we’re going to get through this as a country. If the President is seriously affected, he always has the option of invoking the 25th Amendment and handing the reins to Mike Pence during his convalescence. (That strikes me as unlikely, but at least he has the option.) Either way, our government – and our nation – will continue moving forward. God bless the President and the First Lady. May they, Ms. Hicks, and everyone else struck by this disease experience a rapid and complete recovery.