On this final day before the American people render their final judgment, I am struck by how “normal” the race has been since Trump left Walter Reed.
“Normal” is, of course, relative. It is 2020, after all. But the insane newscycles that dominated the weeks before Trump tested positive were rather quickly switched out by a more mundane sprint to the finish line.
Along the way, the Hunter Biden thing collapsed under its own weight. Biden didn’t implode in the final debate. And Trump basically ran a banal reboot of his 2016 campaign, with very little that is new from his 2016 rally-palooza … save for the fact that he has the Executive Branch, the Postal Service and Gestapo Bill Barr at his disposal. That said, it’s been almost eerily “quiet” over the last ten days.
No last minute revelations. No damning tapes. Nothing that fundamentally Changed The Dynamic™ of the election away from what I always thought it would be … which is a referendum on Trump. It’s always been about Trump … and the presence of COVID, which many would rightfully argue is Trump’s real opponent on the ballot, is, IMHO, really just a subtext of the referendum on Trump.
If anything, COVID was like a measuring stick against which people could fully measure Trump (insert Mario Kart joke here), unlike the Dems, who he’d successfully cast as an easily defeated pro wrestling villain. No, COVID could not be characterized as a baby-eating socialist minion of the global cabal of Soros-funded devil worshipers or as a witch-hunting deep state cartoon character. Instead COVID was a lab-grade test of Donald Trump the human being. And he failed it … repeatedly.
Not coincidentally, this period of relative “normality” came after what I regard as his last attempt to turn COVID to his favor.
It is my assessment that Trump was already showing infection and perhaps even symptomatic at the first debate. That’s why he wasn’t tested (I believe he was, they just lied about it) and he showed up late (they were scrambling to figure out what to do and to avoid being tested again). When he’d discovered he was infected, he faced an existential crisis. Imagine the newscycle if he had to skip the first debate because he tested positive? He couldn’t risk it, so he popped some steroids, ‘roid-raged his way through the debate and then quietly waited for it to go away. It would certainly account for all the gaps and contradictions in the official story of his pre-debate test and the weird, cloudy timeline of his infection (including the severe case suffered by his debate-prepper Chris Christie).
Perhaps he even thought he could fake his way through it until it passed. But then Hope Hicks happened and the story leaked out to Bloomberg and he was stuck. Thus the late night admission via Twitter.
The jig was up.
What came after, though, was his attempt to turn it around by going to Walter Reed, using the props of power to set a narrative and then re-emerging on the other side as the Superman he’d reportedly wanted to be, complete with a Klark Kent, button-ripping reveal of the iconic logo. He thought he could reboot himself as the COVID CONQUERING HERO and, finally, get the virus in the ring and body-slam it in front of cheering crowds.
Perhaps you think that’s paranoid … but there is one thing that has stuck in my craw since the moment it happened … and it’s why I settled on this take the moment he landed during the “magic hour’ back at the White House.
That nagging itch is the fact that just after Trump’s doctors stood in front of Walter Reed and pshaw’d the idea that Trump was doing poorly and, instead, spoke about his strong response to treatment and even teased the idea that his recovery had begun … like, almost within minutes of the presser … Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was passing out a memo that indicated Trump’s condition was far more dire than anyone knew.
Now, why the hell would Meadows do that? How in million years would Trump let a schlemiel like Meadows freelance a press statement without first running it by the boss? Can anyone imagine anyone writing and distributing that memo, or any memo on Trump’s health, without it first being Trump’s idea?
No. Effing. Way.
No, I think Trump’s case was not that severe and he got juiced up with everything but the kitchen sink, so he was well on the way to recovery … but, once he had it, he desperately wanted to re-write the script, cast himself as the COVID CONQUERING HERO and use that to finally defeat the one enemy he could not tweet, insult, berate or lie into submission.
Unfortunately for him, COVID was never the enemy that posed the greatest threat. That mortal enemy was always Trump himself.Tweet