Billionaire businessman, TV showman and Free World helmsman Donald Trump has long stood in a class by himself. At the same time, he has never abandoned the street-level populism enjoining him the millions of voters he has aroused. It is perhaps fitting, then, that the greatest challenge to Mr. Trump’s presidency — and his person — is the very same coronavirus threat faced by 21st century Everyman. How he handles his personal test in the battle against the deadly disease may determine whether America emerges from the pandemic epoch with victory.
More jolting than a strong morning coffee, the president’s tweet early Friday announced his collision with the virulent virus: “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” The White House followed with medical updates saying the 74-year-old president was experiencing “mild symptoms,” while 50-year-old first lady Melania reported “feeling good.”
As president, Mr. Trump works, walks, talks and travels in a protective bubble. With the current presidential campaign season coinciding with this era of contagion, though, he has also pushed his security envelope, jetting frequently to recent swing state rallies with thousands of supporters — some wearing protective face masks and some without.
Interacting with dozens of staff members moving in and out of his bubble, the president is not unlike millions of Americans who feel compelled by necessity to forswear the safety of home and hearth to do what life demands — work. Doing so involves risk. For approaching coronavirus from the point of view of an optimist — refusing to self-isolate, urging states to reopen and hoping for the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine before Election Day — his Democratic detractors and their media allies have accused Mr. Trump of downplaying the threat.
Now they sneer at the president’s misfortune. “He only cares about himself and his life, NOT those around him or the people he took an oath to protect,” tweeted “Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib. “Too many lives lost because of his deadly lies.”
The Tlaib types have joined up with propagandists in China, the source of the disease, where the state-run Global Times tweeted: “President Trump and the first lady have paid the price for his gamble to play down the COVID-19.”
Taunting finger-waggers berating the president may not realize that he is in better company than they and not just among the millions of Americans who have contracted the virus. Encouraged by Mr. Trump’s example, tens of millions of truck drivers, grocery store stockers, restaurant servers and, most of all, health care providers have likewise refused to surrender to fear and done their job.
The president and hardworking Americans are being tested. Odds are, like he said, “We will get through this together.”
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