Alan Zendell, October 9, 2020
Once again, we find ourselves mired in chaos created by Donald Trump. This time it’s about his physical and mental health a week after being hospitalized with COVID. There was a time when contradicting his doctors and public health experts and making demonstrably untrue assertions about the pandemic left much of the country wondering about fake news. Which reality was true, the overwhelming consensus of scientists and physicians, or the erratic, self-contradictory vision painted by Trump’s tweets and rants?
Twenty-five days before the election, Trump’s version has far fewer followers than it might have a couple of years ago, partly because it changes with his whims, sometimes multiple times a day. The reality of science and medicine has been consistent and almost unanimous for months, despite Trump’s attempt to re-write history.
He often defends his refusal to wear masks by claiming Anthony Fauci said masks were unnecessary back in March. But Fauci never said that. At a time when the nation’s stockpile of necessary medical supplies was severely depleted, Fauci suggested it was more important at that moment to assure that medical personnel had sufficient supplies of masks than for every American to have one.
We’ve seen what happens when decisions affecting millions of lives ignore science in favor of one man’s self-interest. In the past few weeks, the president has recklessly put people directly at risk of catching the virus while attempting to convince his supporters that common sense recommendations by the CDC were just the radical left and the deep state trying to restrict their personal freedoms. And now, with COVID infections peaking all over the country, he wants to resume rallies, while unwilling to reveal the details of his health status.
There is no longer any doubt about who is promulgating fake news. The doubt and confusion which the president creates no longer obscure the truth. Instead of condemning white supremacists and hate groups, he admonished them to “stand by,” and a week later the FBI crushed a right-wing militia plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Witmer. Amid concerns that such militia groups have been emboldened by Trump’s refusal to discredit them, and fears that they may be planning massive acts of insurrection and civil war, FBI Director Christopher Wray said domestic terrorism is the most dangerous threat facing the country. Trump said the plot to kidnap Witmer was her fault for not opening her state fast enough.
Trump’s assertion that he has beaten COVID and Americans should not let it dominate their lives are driven by his desperation about re-election. The same desperation caused him to attack Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, because he hasn’t produced new evidence about Hillary Clinton’s emails, and Attorney General Bill Barr, because the investigation led by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham into the “Russia hoax” will not be completed before Election Day. No October surprise?
This week, there is more evidence of Trump’s erratic behavior. He changed his mind three times in less than a week about whether he will debate Joe Biden on October 15th. He flipped back and forth over a new stimulus bill for a month, accusing the Democrats of holding up a bill while ordering Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin not to budge on the Republican Senate bill that would provide funding to bail out airlines and protect employers against liability if employees brought back to work in violation of CDC guidelines became sick or died.
Three days ago, after arguing that Nancy Pelosi wanted over a trillion dollars to reward Democrat-run states for decades of overspending he ordered Mnuchin to end negotiations with her. Yet today he undercut his own Senate caucus, telling Rush Limbaugh’s audience that he wants a huge stimulus, much larger than Pelosi’s. There’s a clear pattern in all this. We’ve seen his obsession with remaining in power play out repeatedly. But now he appears panicked, leading much of the medical community to wonder if the drugs he’s been given are affecting his stability and judgment.
We wouldn’t accept a last will and testament whose author was not demonstrably of sound mind and body, and we cannot accept the president’s version of his own legacy. In a very real sense, he is bequeathing the current state of the nation to the next administration. The body of evidence that includes both his record and his physical and mental health is all on the ballot this year. Far more important than politics, it creates a stark contrast between the current president and Joe Biden, his opponent.
If Americans can put aside their differences and focus on what’s best for the country, the choice couldn’t be clearer.