Hey, Journalists! Trump Only ALLEGEDLY Has Covid-19!


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I am not saying that the President and First Lady don’t have CoVid-19.

I am simply saying that journalistic skepticism requires that we limit our statements and conclusion  to what we do know.

We know what he said.  We do not know that what he said is true.

And there are good reasons to suspect that it might not be true — and that he is engaging in a “hoax,” to use the term that this master of projection frequently hurls at the Democrats.

Is Trump’s plan for getting his reality show renewed loosely based on this triple bill?

Consider: his campaign is now seen as being on a slide to oblivion.  This revelation shakes the table and knocks the pieces off of the game board.

The political advantages of the Trumps having Covid, given his self-destructive performance in the first (and now we can probably say “only”) debate against Joe Biden are enormous.  Consider just some of them:

  1. He has “changed the topic of conversation” —  from his horrific debate performance, Melania’s foul responses to her critics, the New York Times revelations about his personal finances and the huge personally guaranteed loans he has coming due — in about as dramatic a way possible short of war.
  2. He has placed himself in a sympathetic position where anyone’s — most of all Biden and Harris’s — attacking him in with anything close to the fervid style he employs while he “bravely soldiers on” seems unthinkable.
  3. He has set the stage for him to have a “deathbed conversion” — sincere or feigned or to-be-determined — on Covid-related policy, if he thinks it beneficial, and to gain credence with voters on what has been his weakest point.
  4. He can continue to send messages — my guess is video via YouTube rather than just tweets — to the voting public from quarantine, while moaning about how this throws his campaign off its stride and others must step in to carry on his cause.
  5. He has set up a situation in which celebrities and well-wishers can visit him and his wife in the East Wing — either in full PPE or talking to him through a transparent barrier.  What a great story!  (What a great Fox Exclusive!)
  6. He precipitated a stock market collapse (based on Asian market futures trading that demonstrates how important Bug Business considers him to be — and also allow for canny observers or friends (or himself) to make a pile of badly needed money as his proclaimed situation “worsens” and “improves.”
  7. A 14-day rest takes him past the second Presidential debate, but not past the third Presidential debate, where he can present any face to Joe Biden that he wishes.  How does someone prepare for that?
  8. Perhaps most importantly, Trump’s professed infection allows voters who agree with his policies to vote based on the prospect that perhaps they will get a kinder and gentler (in style, not substance) Pence Administration rather than four more nerve-jangling years of Trump.

But look, isn’t it ridiculous not to take him at his word?  Again, let’s look at what we actually know.

  1. It was announced that Hope Hicks, his closest and most beloved aide, had contracted Covid — “probably from one of his fans that she can’t help rushing up to.”or however he phrased it, and was on his plane, unmasked.
  2. He tweets that he tested positive.
  3. He tweets that Melania tested positive.
  4. His doctor states that he has been informed that they tested positive.

#1 may or may not be true — and if it is true I hope that she ignores her mentor’s previous public advice about the exciting prospect of admitting bleach into her bloodstream — but if Trump wanted a partner in a hoax, Hicks would be ideal.  #2 and 3 may or may not be true — and if the tests are positive, they could easily have come from someone else.  #4 isn’t evidence of anything; the doctor could be in on it or could be just attesting to hearsay.

It doesn’t take a Steve Bannon to think up this kind of plan — although in this case it may well have been him.

This development leaves Joe Biden in an untenable position:

  • He has to be nice as possible about sympathizing with Trump.  For example, he can’t engage in this speculation — and I’m not sure who can.  (Al Franken?  One or both Obamas?  Carter?  NOT BILL OR HILLARY!)
  • Does he continue to campaign with full-throated criticisms?  He’ll get attacked for kicking a man while he’s down.
  • Should he tone down his campaign out of respect and good sportsmanship?  His message be drowned out by the roar from the Trumpians.

If the Trump campaign’s internal polls are as bad today as others seem to be, I expect them to whet the public’s appetite  for drama with the mother of all scripted reality shows — one in which his fortunes wax and wane.  (If I were Melania, I’d get the hell out of there and check into the Mayo Clinic, because her death and pre-election day funeral would be a real tear-jerker.)

That script would surely contain this: if Pence is out-polling him, he would ask his Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment — you know, the thing we’ve long been clamoring for? — through his period of convalescence.   Then: he gets a nice, long, restful staycation, during which he can tweet in Trump or in sunny Reagan mode; those who long for a Placid Pence Presidency are thrilled and energized; and he can come back into power anytime he wants, given a compliant Cabinet, simply by delivering a letter to the Speaker of the House and the Senate Chair Pro-Tem.

Again, I’m not saying that this is what’s happening; I’m saying that if it were it would be smart politics mixed with smart reality programming — and we know that the President is capable of one of those and has advisors for the other.

The possibility that the worst liar in American political history is, um, lying about his and his wife’s condition may be large or small.  But it is far from non-zero.  And that means that the press has got to stop attesting to that which they do not know for certain — and label what are simply claims and assertions from a demonstrably unreliable source as being only what they are.

For now, that’s all I ask.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. One of his daughters co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)