Theatre of the Absurd – starring Trump and the American people
The announcement that President Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus drew varying reactions. As president of the most powerful country, economically and militarily, that communication had many implications, including, of course, for US security. Many did not believe him, understandably so for a man most known for his lies. But then there was confirmation from his doctor and news that White House officials and close associates had also contracted the virus. Was that part of a conspiracy? Anything is possible with Trump who uses his power to control those around him. Is there anyone who believed the report of his personal physician who some time ago, gave him a clean bill of health, declaring in Trumpian superlative terms that he was the healthiest president ever?
But things became more bizarre. News that he was going into the Walter Reed Memorial hospital, captured, even more, the world’s attention. Here was a man who initially downplayed the pandemic and suggested it would have disappeared shortly; a man who even when things had gotten out of hand refused to wear a mask and mocked those who did. Instead of taking charge and uniting the country on the issue, he had the States competing against each other for resources. While he fiddled, the US recorded over 7 million cases of the virus and had over 200,000 deaths, making that country number 1 in terms of cases and deaths recorded.
There was never a dull moment, for the absurdity continued. There were conflicting reports about his health. From his hospital bed he began his tweets, informing that he was feeling well. Of course, he was subjected to the best medical help available for which he did not have to pay, while trying to get rid of Obamacare to deny those who could not afford basic health care. The incredulity went on, for while his doctors claimed he was doing fine, though not yet out of the woods, we were told about the cocktail of drugs given to him, including steroids whom experts indicated were normally given to people who were seriously ill. Then on Sunday, two days after, the baloney again! He was allowed to drive around the compound waving to well-wishers, exposing his security personnel to possible exposure to the virus.
The theatrics remained, for he announced that he was leaving the hospital the next evening, which he did to the amazement of most and with many questions being asked. Was this a naked display of power? He arrived at the White House on Monday evening, walked up the stairs at an entrance he hardly used, took off his mask and waved to the crowd. The situation became even more insane. The steroids, as part of the cocktail of drugs he was administered could, we were told, cause the individual to become delirious, subjected to mood swings, and impaired in decision making and thinking. Remember he has the keys to the nuclear arsenal!
On Tuesday we were subjected to a multitude of tweets many of which were incoherent, involving a lot of his accustomed lies and attacking all and sundry even going back to Hilary Clinton. He first indicated that he was calling off any attempt to arrive at a comprehensive stimulus deal until after the election. The Stock Market reacted negatively, and he reversed his position. Was all of that the effect of the steroids? On Wednesday he was back at the Oval office possibly exposing more workers there, remembering that about 14 persons at the White House had already tested positive for the virus. He continued to downplay the virus, urging his followers not to be afraid of it and not to allow it to dominate their lives. He learned so much about the virus, possibly more than anybody, and had an advantage over Biden. After all, he had gone out-front like any leader should! He was now ready for the debate on October 15.
Could you imagine such Madness! This column was written on Wednesday, so do not be surprised if there are major developments by the time you read this article today.
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian