Today has been harder than I thought it might be. Late last night, we learned that the U.S. president, Donald Trump, tested positive for Covid 19, just days after ridiculing presidential nominee Joe Biden for wearing a mask and taking precautions. The news is filled with this or that senator, WH aides, Trump family members, and those close to his campaign either testing positive or negative. There seems to be a tally count. How many have tested positive? Who are wearing masks? And curiously, on that tally chart, — no tweets from the Tweeter-in-Chief today.
Given an administration that has sown mistrust in media, planted lie upon lie, and created constant chaos as a means of governing, it should be no surprise that social media and the conversations with friends have been filled with doubt over whether any of this was real. Could this be one of those “alternative facts” we were told about?
I went from one theory to the next as if I were sitting in the dark, guessing about which monsters might be lurking. With all the bad news swirling about trump — his debate performance, his alleged tax evasion, his dropping poll numbers — could he be fabricating this illness to get out of the next debate? Does the chaos surrounding a supposed contraction of the virus allow him to tout some wacky therapeutic in which he’s heavily financially invested? Would he, after days or weeks, emerge from the White House, fit as ever (well, fit for him), claiming that, just as he’d suspected, Covid 19 was no worse than the flu. I can just hear him now: “Open up the country! I survived with barely a sniffle — like nothing you’ve ever seen before. You will, too.”
There were those who argued that contracting Covid would be embarrassing and he avoids embarrassment at all costs. Really? Would his narcissistic self-preservation concoct a scheme to somehow snatch the election? Nothing surprises us anymore. We just try, as best we can, to brace for what’s next.
But then the news came that he was being flown to Walter Reed. Talk is that he is seriously ill, maybe running a high fever. The man I loathe and detest may be critically ill. I’m so numb from the last four years, I really can’t be sure how I feel. I think this essay is my attempt to sort that out.
I’ve had friends who’ve suffered for weeks with this virus, sometimes harboring the lingering effects in their lungs or other weird after-shocks of the disease. My children are in college, sheltered away by themselves, seeing only one or two friends and doing everything on line. Their lives have been turned upside down. My sister-in-law died alone — not from Covid — but way too young and without any family to hold her hand, to whisper their good-byes. And just this week, a friend lost her elderly mother without being able to be by her side. What kind of world is this?
I’m filled with tears and rage — dreary devastation and ice-cold anger. For those who somehow think this means I want Trump to die, I do not. But I do want him to face the consequences for his cold-hearted behaviors and policies. I want him to face the fear of loss, one he can’t bribe his way out of — and I want him to acknowledge the 209,000 lives that have been tragically lost. I want him to see what the case before the Supreme Court will do to people if they rule against the Affordable Care Act. I want him to understand the great privilege he enjoys to pay so little in taxes and yet to get the finest medical care in the world. Finally, I want him to grovel with humiliation and regret. I want to believe that maybe, somehow, redemption is not beyond him.
That’s what my prayer has been. I believe in redemption — but I also believe in hard life facts. You don’t treat others as expendable without having to face your own mortality at some point. At the end of our days, it’s just us and our maker — whoever, whatever you might believe that to be. I want to believe that each of us, as Bryan Stevenson has said so beautifully, is more than the worst things we’ve ever done.
It causes me such despair that I can’t say whether that’s true of Mr. Trump. I know the persona he’s projected for decades is someone I find repulsive. I pray there is more to Mr. Trump because what a terrible thing it would be for the sum of the man to be only what we’ve seen over the last four years.
The well-wishers — mostly his supporters and enablers — have made my heart harder. Where have they been as thousands upon thousands have died from this disease? But then there were two people whose Twitter accounts I follow — two who brought me to my knees.
The first was Vice President Joe Biden who not only extended his warmest wishes for a full recovery, but also pulled all his negative ads. After all that Trump has done to sully Biden, to drag him through mud and muck — to make up lies about him and his family . . . Biden took the higher road. Biden’s words and actions made me pause. I have no doubt who is the better candidate for President of the United States. Joe Biden made it clearer than ever today. He’s the man for the job.
The second though, brought me to tears. It was a tweet from Hillary Clinton who also wished the Trumps well. After the way she’d been treated when she had pneumonia — then candidate Trump making fun of her and questioning her stamina, her energy, her fitness. No one would have blamed her if she stayed silent. But she didn’t. She is the epitome of class and grace. I cried because once again she proved that this country missed a great opportunity to have her serve in the highest office.
So here I am — late in the day — still trying to figure out how I feel and what I’d say to the president if he were in front of me. I’d probably first tell him to back up and put on a mask — but then I’d tell him that I hope he feels better. Right now, that’s the best I can do.
Please note: I know there are those of you who will not agree with me and that’s fine. But do not come after me with pitchforks and torches because I will block you. There is just no time for so much ugly.