The Biter Bit

Today is Saturday October 3rd. Kia ora katoa.

Last night, there was another big shock. Trump tweeted that he and his wife had tested positive for Covid 19. While the death of RBG was a huge shock, and the cause of much sadness, this is a different kind of whiplash. A bigger shock, perhaps, but not such a desperately sad one. One that still leaves us all reeling, however. This changes everything. But how, exactly?  This crisis is still unfolding, and, ironically, it may be that the announcement of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the Supreme Court was the super-spreader event that spread Covid 19 far and wide amongst White House staff, politicians, and invited guests and aides on this occasion. This includes two senators who were to vote on her fast-tracked confirmation to the Supreme Court.

I first heard this news early on Friday evening. I had been listening to Chris Hayes’s show, and then Rachel Maddow’s shows on their podcasts: this is much less annoying than trying to watch their shows on Youtube. Chris Hayes revealed that Hope Hicks had tested positive. There was further news that Trump and his wife were self-isolating. Then came the news that Trump and Melania had tested positive. Whoops!

I had a small whisky. I seldom drink alcohol, but this was a special occasion. I read that the Stock Market had fallen; my immediate questions were when does Pence take over as President, and does Joe Biden keep campaigning? I don’t think there are any doubts that if the situation were reversed, Trump would keep right on campaigning. I recall how he mocked when his 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, had pneumonia.

After that, I went to bed, knowing the fallout would continue on Saturday (which it did). As with RBG’s passing, almost all the podcasts I listen to regularly had a special recording to note that Trump is not immune to this virus, despite constant provocations: lack of mask wearing, lack of social distancing, and continuing to hold large gatherings: rallies, fundraisers and other occasions, such as the announcement of the proposed new Supreme Court justice. Oh, and did I mention lack of effective testing? Unless you’re  close to Trump, of course.  Trump effectively taunted the virus, and encouraged others to do so, thinking that he was somehow immune (as commented to Bob Woodward).

On Saturday I learnt several new details. Trump went to hospital for a few days, with symptoms firstly of fatigue, and a slight temperature; later we heard he was having trouble breathing.

Some wondered if he actually had coronavirus. He continues to be down in the polls; he’s told many lies himself, and got others to lie for him; is this the October Surprise we’ve all been fearing?  It seems though that the symptoms of fatigue and hoarseness are genuine, borne out by his finishing the rally in Minnesota after 45 minutes (a short time for him), and his speaking in a rather hoarse voice. There’s a story in the UK’s Guardian about this.

Reaction for the most part has been of concern and sympathy and good wishes for Trump and his wife; many have pointed out that not only did he disdain to use protective measures, he mocked those who did so, and encouraged others to mock them. Americans are reeling at the death toll thus far: 209,000 (some say 211,000).  It has also transpired that after Hope Hicks tested positive, Trump not only tried to prevent this news from being aired (thanks, Bloomberg News), but held a very expensive fundraiser event at his Bedminster Golf Course, cynical moves indeed. The fact that he is experiencing symptoms worthy of hospitalisation so “early” suggests that he has been suffering from coronavirus for the several days it usually takes for initially mild symptoms to become more severe. His age and weight are significant factors too.

Several other people have tested positive thus far: Ronna McDaniel, Kelly-Anne Conway, Bill Stepien (Trump’s Campaign Manager), Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, and the principal of Notre-Dame University; it’s also suggested that the tests used (yielding faster than normal results) have only a 60% rate of accuracy. As these folk have confirmed positive test results during the day, one has to wonder who else will test positive. At ACB’s announcement, there was a lot of hugging and handshaking. Others, including people who were at the Presidential Debate, have tested negative, but they may need to be re-tested as early tests can give false negatives. Apparently three reporters have tested positive.

Again, the American people are shocked and alarmed, that the President wasn’t better protected (ha, ha, he made this really difficult), that he is so lacking in any kind of empathy or sympathy that he exposed many, including his wife, his adult children and his staff, and people like Joe Biden and Chris Wallace, to this virus, being quite heedless of his behaviour.  All hope and some pray for his speedy recovery, but all are determined that he be voted out of office in the coming election. People are alarmed that his symptoms have become alarming this soon, that he’s in hospital, and that many others have been exposed; also that he held a fundraiser after Hope Hicks’s positive result was confirmed. Who still supports this man? All this after his completely boorish behaviour at the first Presidential Debate.

Joe Biden, bless him, went to Michigan, as scheduled, and made a wonderful speech.  People enjoyed hearing “presidential”, and don’t miss the lack of tweets at all. Trump’s diagnosis and subsequent hospitalisation have come as a weird relief: the coronavirus demands to be taken seriously, and we all enjoy the peace and quiet.

Joe Biden had some good lines during the Debate, saying of the virus: “It is what it is, because you are who you are”. At one point, after constant interruptions, he said: “Will you shut up, man?”, something we have all been longing to say. He also exhorted people to vote.

I have previously written about this so-called debate, but I am struck by how many women found Trump’s menacing behaviour alarming, feeling as though they  were being physically stalked, although they were sitting safe someplace watching this performance. They felt a visceral fear. Men felt soiled. That says it all, really. It also goes some way to explain how Trump behaves in the White House, and how his staff daren’t cross him.

The next day (Sunday October 4th) it transpires that not only does Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey, have the virus, he is also asthmatic and has gone to hospital. Bill Barr refuses to self-isolate, although he was seen very close to Kelly-Anne Conway, who has tested positive; Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin (who was not at the Rose Garden event), has also tested positive, after earlier returning a negative test. Biden is to be tested again.

It now seems that Trump has had this virus for several days; indeed, he may have been infectious at the debate hosted by the Cleveland Clinic, where members of his family waved away a person offering them masks, and Trump mocked Joe Biden for wearing one  It transpires that Trump was given oxygen at the White House, before departing for Walter Reed Hospital. There are conflicting reports of his health, varying from an insistence that he’s doing fine, to concerns for his health over the next 48 hours. The tweets continue, although one wonders just who is writing them?

We shall see how this story unfolds. Nga mihi.

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