From a Debate to a Diagnosis: A Week for the History Books

By Briana Brady, Opinion Editor–

As I think back to last Tuesday, it seems like it was a year ago. August feels like an entirely different decade. The past week has been something of a political faceplant, which, in the context of 2020, isn’t saying much. Twitter user @aardonyx put it succinctly by saying that it feels like politically we are currently in the speeding up part of “Come on Eileen.” Jake Tapper called a particular portion of the last week “a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck.”

I’d say that pretty much sums it up.

I wasn’t expecting too much from last Tuesday’s first Presidential Debate, but it was truly worse than anything I imagined. The barrage of Trump’s nonsensical interruptions coupled with the disgusting and false accusations he hurled at Biden ensured Trump looked as unprofessional and unpresidential as ever. Chris Wallace’s inability to control the conversation resulted in an unproductive discussion that was frequently incomprehensible simply due to the candidates talking over one another. I became physically upset when Trump refused to condemn white supremacy, instead offering a call to arms to the Proud Boys.

My worries about potential right-wing violence during and following the election were only exacerbated as Trump would not commit to accepting the electoral outcome nor urge his supporters to stay peaceful during a potentially prolonged vote counting period. Instead, he claimed mail-in ballots were no good and encouraged his voters to be “poll watchers;” I can already see deranged Trump supporters going to the polls to deter and harass non-Trump voters in the name of “electoral integrity.”

As if the debate itself wasn’t enough to take in, early Friday morning the nation learned that Trump had tested positive for COVID-19, and we soon discovered that many others in his orbit would follow suit. Like nearly everything else related to this administration, the veracity of the information being shared with the public regarding the President’s health and condition was unknown. Just as quickly as some information was reported and disseminated by one doctor or staff member close to the President, it was then contradicted by another. Mild symptoms turned into severe symptoms, no need for oxygen turned into a need for oxygen, etc.

The President’s need to portray a “strong-man” persona coupled with his massive ego ensured that the truth about his health and any admission of wrongdoing regarding the coronavirus in the past was completely out of the question. Moreover, his self-gloating parade outside of Walter Reed was as selfish as it gets: he unnecessarily rode in an airtight suburban to wave to supporters knowingly putting the Secret Service agents serving him in harm’s way. All for a photo op. Sound familiar?

Of everything, though, two happenings from Monday night, October 5th, must be the lowest of all. Trump tweeted Monday afternoon following his announcement of medical discharge from Walter Reed: “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” These words are not only indescribably ignorant of his own privilege and entitlement, but they also will directly lead to more COVID deaths and re-open the wounds of those who have lost loved ones to this virus of which we should most definitely be afraid and live our lives accordingly. The tweet is so insensitive and immoral that it’s practically evil. And then, after that tweet and just moments after returning to the White House (most definitely still shedding COVID-19 virus) Trump defiantly takes off his mask as the world looks on.

We don’t truly know how sick Trump is or was. But over the months before he contracted the virus, I have tried to imagine how Trump would’ve handled the national response to COVID if he had been one of the first to contract it, with no ability to pay for medical treatment, and no one by his side while he died. I’d like to think he’d have a little more empathy. But now he has it. And he’s still taking off his mask, putting other people in danger while telling people there’s nothing to be afraid of. He does not care about anyone but himself. He’s proved it time and time again. We should be afraid of COVID, and we should be afraid of him.

And we should respond accordingly.

Early voting starts next Tuesday. See you there.

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