Despite his COVID-19 diagnosis, President Donald Trump got himself released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and arrived back at the White House Monday evening. The first thing he did was take off his protective mask. The second thing he did was force various photographers and staff to get near him and risk infection so that he could pose for pictures.
Fox News commentator Sean Hannity declared that the way Trump was facing down the coronavirus put him in the same league as great leaders such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Over on MSNBC, there was a different comparison being made: Typhoid Mary – although it was pointed out that Typhoid Mary unwittingly carried her disease while Trump should be fully aware that his maskless return home threatens to spread the virus even further than it has already gone into the ranks of White House staff and Secret Service agents.
The most fervent Trump supporters, unsurprisingly, see Trump much the same way as Hannity. If anything, they are more in awe of the man. On the Trump campaign’s Facebook page, the president’s fans have left messages of encouragement that envision him in larger-than-life terms; “Superman,” “Lionheart,” “stronger than CHINA-19.” They are totally in tune with his pronouncement after leaving the hospital that the virus is nothing to be afraid of and that, perhaps, he, himself, is immune.
It is way too early to tell if Trump has escaped worse effects of his COVID-19 infection. He may soon discover the disease is not as benign as he thinks in his current, steroid-enhanced state. However it goes, though, his core followers will undoubtedly cling to their belief that he is a strong, great leader, not a reckless narcissist who failed to protect himself and the people around him from a biological threat.
Before heading into the White House Monday night, Trump stood alone on the balcony, posing with chin thrust out, flanked by several conveniently placed American flags. Some liberal critics said Trump’s dramatic stance had uncomfortable echoes of Mussolini, but his supporters certainly saw something else – a demigod unbowed by a disease that has brought lesser beings to their knees.
And demigods don’t need to wear masks, do they?
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