On Friday last week, it happened. Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19, and the reaction of the people in the country he’s supposedly leading was … mixed. On the right, the platform was generally homogenous, with sympathy and prayers sent the president’s way, while on the left there was more a split. The politically correct move was to fall in line and offer the same sentiments, but many couldn’t help but laugh and even cheer due to the irony of a man who has vehemently denied the threat of the virus falling ill. On the flipside, when Trump emerged from Walter Reed last night, his base rejoiced to see the man tweeting about how Americans should “[not] be afraid of Covid,” and that they should not “let it dominate [their lives]”
while the left looked to the science of how it is likely that Trump is not finished with his coronavirus bout.
On Friday and Monday respectively, we saw people on both sides of the political spectrum jump the gun and throw logic to the wind. When Trump went into the hospital, the people who celebrated were the first to give in to the fantasy scenario. It is an absolute fact that Donald Trump is a selfish person that has spread the misinformation about this pandemic, and that he has offered no sign of sympathy for the over 200,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 so far, but this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to give him a taste of his own medicine. When you repost a meme or make a cheap joke about Trump being in the hospital, you’re allowing the man to set the bar for morality in this country, and if Donald Trump is the standard for morality, we have sunk to a place we may never recover from. Of course, taking the high road also doesn’t feel great, as it’s only been two weeks since Republicans responded to the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg with cold politics and little empathy, but again, the equivalent of the kindergarten excuse “they started it” shouldn’t be the stance to go with. Finding a middle ground between taking the high road completely and stooping to Trump’s level was the correct response in my opinion, and after the initial reactions had died down, this came through.
The best example of this was the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live.” A day and a half removed from the hospitalization, multiple moments from SNL did a great job in poking fun at the irony of the situation while holding back from making the cheap-shot jokes. In the cold open, Jim Carrey’s Joe Biden alluded to a teaming up of “science and karma” and in “Weekend Update,” Michael Che acknowledged how easy it is to make jokes and how perfectly ironic this narrative really is.
On Monday, a mere three days since his admission, Trump’s emergence from the hospital led his right-wing base to be the ones jumping the gun. The tweet telling people to not be scared about the pandemic drove the sentiment echoed by his supporters, even though there are some key facts being ignored here that people not blindly loyal to this president have pointed out. First off, regardless of the exact date Trump became infected with the virus, he has not surpassed the 14-day schedule that has generally been the benchmark of how long one has the virus. Secondly, as many know all too well, one of the most dangerous parts of this disease is that patients tend to take a turn for the worse after seemingly recovering, around the 10-day mark. Trump is likely about to hit that mark, so it is certainly jumping the gun to proclaim that one “[feels] better than [he] did 20 years ago.”
Obviously these two instances of hastiness are not equal in their dangerousness. One is amoral cheap shots that have little to no effect on anything tangible, while the other is a dangerous proclamation that could set the public health crisis back months simply by spreading falsehoods about how the fight against COVID-19 actually works. Neither is good, but one affects the person who said the comment and might be on their conscience for a long time, while the other might mean thousands of more lives lost, and it also happens to come from an individual that’s supposed to be the leader of the free world.