The days following Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis have been a microcosm of his entire approach to the virus: delay, obfuscation, and outright lies. However genuinely frightening it is to see the President of the United States be laid low by a deadly virus, it’s also maddeningly predictable. This is a president who constantly downplayed the spread of the coronavirus and mocked the idea of wearing masks as “politically correct.” To some, the image of him finally wearing a mask—as he boarded a helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center—was an inevitable result of his inability to abide by the safety guidelines his own government has promulgated.
To others, including CNN host Jake Tapper, it was just damn infuriating.
“The Americans who don’t listen to science or medicine, who think masks are too intrusive, who pack bars, who willfully risk spreading the virus, you are making it worse for all of us,” Tapper said in a blistering rant on CNN’s State of the Union. “You are extending how long this pandemic will last. And, it is tragic to say, many if not most of you are taking your cues from the leader of the free world.”
CNN’s @jaketapper: “Sick and in isolation, Mr. President, you have become a symbol of your own failures. Failures of recklessness, ignorance, arrogance. The same failures you have been inflicting on the rest of us … Get well and get it together" #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/XXA5uC91Ea
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) October 4, 2020
Tapper noted that Trump chose to attend a fundraiser in New Jersey on Thursday despite having been in close contact with one of his advisers, Hope Hicks, who had just tested positive for the virus. Instead of avoiding the event, where attendees mingled indoors and mostly did not wear masks, Trump went anyway. Hours later, he announced that he and Melania Trump had tested positive. That would be the height of the scandal if not for Trump’s physician, Sean Conley, bizarrely implying in a Saturday press conference that Trump tested positive on Wednesday. (He walked those comments back shortly afterward.) If that were the case, Trump would have willfully attended an outdoor rally in Minnesota and a fundraiser—which partly took place indoors—while knowing he had the virus. That’s unfathomably reckless behavior, yet for anyone who’s watched Trump in the past five hours, it’s hardly surprising.
“Sick and isolated, you have become a symbol of your own failures, failures of recklessness, ignorance, arrogance—the same failures you have been inflicting on the rest of us,” Tapper concluded. “Get well, and for the rest of us who don’t get to go to Walter Reed, get well and get it together.”