RJ Matson (CQ Roll Call) provides a starting point today, as Trump cheerfully bounces out of Walter Reed, possibly Against Medical Advice, though he’s going “home” to a White House with a medical facility that’s better than some hospitals, and also possibly high on steroidal optimism, since that’s one reported side effect of the unprecedented presidential cocktail he’s been given.
There appear to be two factors at work here. You may take your choice of which is more concerning.
The first is that there is still a lot we don’t know about covid and coronavirus, which would be a reason to have the president stay in the hospital longer but, then again, might mean that he’ll make a full recovery or at least enough of a recovery that life will go on as it has.
The other is that he is vain enough to deny any problem that doesn’t leave him actually incapacitated. The bridge scene in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” made “It’s just a flesh wound” a familiar comic line, but pointless, self-destructive bravado is not nearly so funny in real life and certainly not in the seat of power.
Which factors combine to give us our first
Juxtaposition of the Day
As noted here yesterday and in several other places over the past few days, the messaging from Walter Reed has been, perhaps, less than perfectly frank.
Some has, no doubt, been a normal tendency towards hopefulness, that “If his fever doesn’t spike tonight, we’ll know more” sort of prognosis offered to worried families in place of “If he makes it through the night, it will be a miracle.”
But some also has likely been at the direction of the patient, who always, under HIPPA, has control over what information can be released, and who, in this particular case, has, as Bramhall suggests, a tendency to hide troubling information. And to fire those who don’t.
Machs nix. In the end, the effect is as Bennett portrays it, and the only unstated factor is the extent to which this qualifies as a pre-existing condition.
This piece on Herman Cain has been circulating on social media, and it seems pretty dubious in light of what we know of Cain’s final days, as he slipped in and out of consciousness and was intubated. However, we also know that his doctors were slipping in and out of optimism, and, whoever gave those upbeat appraisals or whether they were given at all, his case remains a worthwhile warning that it ain’t over ’til it’s over.
And that out of sight is out of mind in this White House, as evidenced by Dear Leader’s denial at the recent debate that his rallies had any negative effect on people’s health.
Going back to Bramhall’s well-chosen parallel, refusal to release health records doesn’t mean you’re healthy any more than refusal to release your tax returns means you paid a fair amount.
And refusal to acknowledge Herman Cain’s death does not excuse having similarly exposed your staff and supporters, whether in the course of a normal workday or at a special event announcing the choice of a Supreme Court Justice.
Someone might want to suggest to Dear Leader that, when you are trailing in the polls, it’s not wise planning to place any of your supporters at unnecessary risk, but, as Gary Markstein (Creators) puts it, having more-or-less probably/possibly having beaten the disease, Trump makes the false claim that he learned from the experience.
Which he celebrated by releasing a triumphal helicopter shot that felt like something out of Apocalypse Now, and then ascending the balcony — wheezing a bit — to wave to the people like Il Duce or possibly this group of heroes. (h/t Michael Beschloss)
Imagine what might have happened if Trump had emerged from the hospital chastened and had admitted that what he learned was to be more cautious. By reversing fields, he might have left a shocked opposition flat-footed.
Instead, he came out more boastful than he went in, and handed Jack Ohman (AMS) a straight line easily depicted as callous and unfeeling.
On Twitter, Sarah Cooper turned it into a dark joke:
But Peter Hotez — their respective credentials are at the right — found no humor, not even dark humor, in the irresponsible announcement of Trump’s failure to process an obvious lesson, or, at least, in his inability to care.
Rob Rogers (Counterpoint) echoed that criticism of tone-deaf, elitist indifference, but added another factor: Not only does Trump have the top-shelf care available only to the wealthy, but he is actively working to deny average Americans anything even approaching affordable health care.
It’s like that scene out of “Grapes of Wrath,” in which kerosene is poured on piles of surplus oranges to keep the starving farmworkers from gleaning them: Not simply that you can’t have what I have, but you also can’t have what you need, even though it makes no difference to me whether it rots in the fields or feeds your children.
After all, if we had universal health care, he’d have to pay more in taxes.
Perhaps even more than $750 a year.
We’ll deal with that another day.
Meanwhile, if you are not averse to multiple F-bombs and such, and even if you are, here’s a metaphor that was hatched well before the horse actually was ever in a real hospital: