A Suicidal President
By his most recent antics, US President Donald Trump has become suicidal not only for himself but also for his nation and the world.
He was reckless throughout the period of the pandemic, dismissing it as inconsequential, providing medical misinformation and exhorting the public not to wear masks and violating even the basic laws to prevent infection.
His behaviour since his own infection has baffled his doctors and confused the public. Having been treated for a severe infection, he left the hospital after three days and returned to the White House, which has become a super spreader with a dozen senior officials already infected.
In a country, which has lost more than 200,000 lives, his actions will be condemned as most irresponsible and reprehensible.
President Donald Trump as a COVID-19 afflicted patient is a symbol as well as an irony. As the head of the only superpower, with global influence, he represents a world, still in the throes of a pandemic with no clarity about its consequences.
As of now, there is no vaccine, no medicine and no guarantee of immunity for anyone. It is an irony that he is among the three leaders of the world, together with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the UK and President Bolsonaro of Brazil, who underestimated the gravity of the onslaught and brought about tragedy and suffering to their people and brought their countries to the brink of bankruptcy.
Finally, all the three became patients themselves. In the case of President Trump, at least half the casualties in the US are attributed to his thoughtless recklessness.
COVID-19 is not the only affliction that has hit President Trump.
The very timing of the announcement makes the whole thing suspect. The first Presidential Debate was a disaster of his making. It was characterised as “a TV duel like a car accident” and his popularity rating has consistently remained below his opponent and his behaviour is universally rated as unacceptable.
He did not follow the rudimentary rules of debate and kept interrupting Biden, making any debate impossible. The audience could not make out how either of them will deal with the burning issues of the day. The assessment of the debate was that “neither Trump nor Biden lost the debate, the US democracy lost.” The illness of the President provided a perfect alibi not to repeat the disgrace of the first debate.
Those who knew President Trump had no doubt that his illness was a choreographed drama for political purposes, even if the virus was real. The health of the President has always been a mystery right from the days of Roosevelt and the succession rules did not exist till the 25th Amendment to the Constitution was adopted at the initiative of Eisenhower.
The contradictory statements on his health and his own erratic behaviour, which put the entire White House staff and the Secret Service in danger, have baffled the world.
He does not seem to have won any sympathy by his joy ride outside the hospital to greet his supporters. He said he learnt a lot at the “school” of his experience, but gave no indication of having learnt anything. His disregard for the health of his Secret Service officers and others may have cost him many votes.
A super spreader situation that gripped the high and mighty in Washington was created when many of the nation’s political leaders gathered at the White House nine days ago to celebrate the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.
It was after that event that the President and the First Lady became sick, together with two senators, a former Governor and several others, including White House staff and journalists, who may have infected others.
President Trump’s doctors acknowledged on October 03 that his condition was more serious than they had publicly described the previous day.
Trump did not disclose to the country that the first positive virus test result was received two days earlier. Trump’s doctors treated him with dexamethasone, a steroid that has helped severely ill patients, but not typically used in milder cases.
Dexamethasone can cause side effects including confusion, sleep loss and changes in mood and cognition, raising concerns about whether the President’s treatment may affect his ability to do his job.
Trump briefly left the hospital in an SUV to wave at supporters, potentially putting at risk of infection the two Secret Service agents who were also in the car. In spite of all the contradictory information, it was announced that he was likely to be discharged from the hospital after three days.
The President said that all that was happening to him and his country were acts of God and he expected a miracle to save him and his country. Even after he declared himself sick, his approval rate has not improved. More than 72% of the people believe that he has not yet learnt anything from his experience of the disease. As evidence of this, they point out how he exposed his security staff to risk by taking them in a car with him.
His illness was an opportunity to demonstrate that the mask, washing of hands and social distancing were the preventive measures that the people should take and change the whole mood of the country. He continues to repeat his mistakes, expecting favourable results for his health and his election.
There are reports in the midst of all this confusion that the infection came from his assistant, Hope Hicks, who was seen with him constantly in his company in recent days. The story goes that Hicks became a “good friend” of the President and transferred the coronavirus to the President.
Questions are being asked whether her socially liberal ways were reported to the President by the Secret Service. But the guess is that he was fully aware of Hope’s lifestyle, but still did not prevent her from travelling with him to Ohio for the debate even after she showed signs of COVID-19.
Allowing an individual known to have an active social life to travel with the President in a helicopter was a major breach of security. The people around the President were not in a position to go against his wishes even in such dire circumstances. The Hicks story will confirm that the President does not have the ability to protect himself or his people.
Within one month of the election date, all measurable indications are that the Trump Presidency is about to end.
The uncertainty is about what dramatic developments will take place between now and November 04. President Trump has refused to reject white supremacy and said in so many words that his supporters were standing by to prevent any mishap in the elections.
He has also created doubts about postal ballots and possible rigging at a time when about three million people have already voted by mail.
Moreover, he has more than hinted that there will be no transfer of power unless he himself is the winner. These positions are possible in a banana republic, not in the oldest democracy.
The world is on tenterhooks as the Trump drama unfolds. In the meantime, his mental ability to lead the nation itself is in question.