After spending months mocking mask-wearers and expressing open skepticism of epidemiological science, President Donald Trump has tested positive for the very virus he once publicly belittled as not such a big deal. Friday's news was shocking but predictable given the reckless way Trump has managed the pandemic response and encouraged his followers to flaunt the precautions doctors urged him to advocate.
Many Americans will find it difficult to summon sympathy for someone who has worked so hard to politicize this pandemic by championing "freedom" over responsibility. People died because of his defiance, including former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain after attending a largely maskless Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and his wife are under quarantine after testing positive. Parson, too, embraced Trump's mask-skeptic political position.
A big question now is whether Republican true believers will recognize this for the nuclear warning sign that it is, or continue taunting death. Our sincere hope is that this news provides a much-needed wake-up call to the administration and Trump's coattail candidates, like Parson, to take this pandemic seriously and stop ignoring or mocking the experts' advice. This is not a game. The coronavirus never should have been turned into a political football.
Soldiers traversing a field riddled with landmines don't argue about whether the mines are Republican or Democrat, or whether those soldiers who call out "halt" are threatening other soldiers' freedom. The coronavirus is exactly such a minefield. Stop politicizing the response!
With exactly one month left before the election, Trump's reelection campaign is in turmoil. If his health goes into decline — a high probability given his age and weight — even worse stock market and economic turbulence are certain to follow.
The world has stopped looking to the United States for leadership, especially because of Trump's abysmal pandemic response. He continues to blame China while ignoring the fact that China wrestled the virus into submission while the United States has only seen its infection numbers and death count skyrocket. America leads the world in how not to respond to a pandemic.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden noted in Tuesday's debate that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes the pandemic could be brought under control in as few as 12 weeks if universal mask-wearing was observed. What was Trump's response? "I don't wear masks like him," he said, mocking Biden. "Every time you see him, he's got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them, and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen."
This is a mess of Trump's own making. Those who have followed his reckless leadership, including Parson, have only themselves to blame for whatever negative impact their reelection campaigns suffer in coming days. Their serial irresponsibility couldn't send a clearer message: Voters can no longer trust that these leaders know what they're doing.
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