I Don’t Want to be Like Them

(Elsewhere on the Diplodogs in Retirment site are the entries that comprise the daily journal I’ve been keeping since early in the COVID pandemic. From time to time, though, I’ve added one of them to this blog page which, admittedly, is intermittent but it is where I try to hold onto posts that I particularly care about. This one, from October 3, is one of them.)


I am struggling this morning with conflicting emotions. 

I have always believed that compassion and decency matter. That they help form the bedrock for how we engage each other and how we live our lives. 

So, yes, I hope that any one struggling with COVID-19 — and that includes Donald Trump — will recover and not face the horrors that some of its victims have. To say otherwise — to feel otherwise — I fear would diminish me. 

And, no matter how much I may be appalled by how Trump has debased the office of the presidency — something we may be a long time trying to recover from — he is, nonetheless, the president of our nation. And, no matter who is in the office, an incapacitating illness for the US President could have consequences that reverberate in ways we don’t expect.      

So, I’m not rooting for the virus, and I applaud Joe Biden’s measured and kind response and his choice to suspend, for the moment, negative ads about Trump. It’s the right thing to do. 

At the same time, I am willing to bet that Trump, and many of those who support him, would have a very different approach if it was Joe Biden who was hospitalized. They’d cackle with undisguised glee and they’d tell us that Biden was “too weak” to be President. Too feeble, too sickly — and you can bet they’d concoct a new fairy tale narrative about how the virus had affected his mind or some such crap.

I don’t want to be like them. 

But Trump’s illness does NOT mean that we should gloss over the conduct — Trump’s conduct — that has been so destructive to the office he holds, to the moral and social fabric of our nation, and to the well-being and health of our citizens. 

In the normal course of events, the President of the United States would be among the last to catch COVID-19. He’d be protected and monitored precisely BECAUSE he or she is the President. And the President has a responsibility to the nation to act with care as well to ensure that they didn’t fall ill during the pandemic through recklessly irresponsible behavior. That’s how it would work in the normal course of events. 

But Trump chose to be irresponsible and arrogant and he brought this further crisis on our nation. He chose to downplay the virus, he chose to disregard of medical advice, he chose to dismiss and even demean the use of masks, and he chose to callously manipulate the information and guidance offered to the public.

Did he really believe that the laws of science don’t apply to him? Did he believe that the virus would somehow defer to him? 

He’s never understood it’s not just about Donald Trump. Our nation not only suffers if the president falls ill, but now we have to be concerned about many others in the national leadership. And meanwhile, the White House this morning is STILL saying that mask wearing is “optional” and up to the preference of the staff.

Talk about the height of irresponsibility. But that’s the culture that Trump created. And now he’s a victim of it. And there’s part of me that says “serves him right.” The fact that I try to be decent in my hope for his recovery doesn’t mean I can’t still find him and his actions repugnant, dangerous, and a threat to us on every level.

We watched the crowd gather at the White House for the announcement of Amy Coney Barret’s nomination and now we’re seeing the fallout from that event and of Trump’s creation of a culture of denial in the White House.

We now have three US Senators — Lee, Tillis, and Johnson — infected along with many key advisors, including Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway, Chris Christie and Trump’s campaign manager. The list keeps growing, and we increasingly hear questions asking whether the Congress, the Supreme Court, and key leaders in the administration are now all in peril because of Trump’s recklessness. And the same White House that has dismissed the virus for months is now being characterized as a COVID hotspot. How sadly ironic is THAT for our nation?  

You don’t have to believe in science if you don’t want to but science doesn’t care.  It exists and it will carry on despite your disbelief.  Even if you’re the President of the United States or any of the others who are on the growing list of recently infected members of the Trump cohort. 

They made the choice to join Trump in his irresponsibility. No one forced them. They had the choice to wear masks, to keep their distance, or even to stay away from the event. They chose not to. They’d rather dance to Trump’s tune and stay in his good graces. I am hard pressed to be any more sympathetic to them than I am to Trump.

So, although, I’ll try to make sure that basic decency will guide my response to Trump’s illness, let’s not allow this crisis — that he brought on himself — lead us to rewrite the narrative about Trump and his presidency. 

In my books, he remains a bully, a braggart, and a buffoon, and coronavirus does not change that. Not in the least. Not for me, nor for many of the more than 208,000 Americans who have died but could have been saved had Trump actually been an honest and effective leader on this crisis. 

What a week this has been. What a YEAR this has been.

Stay strong, stay safe, stay healthy.

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