Trump’s COVID diagnosis is the result of a politically-motivated, cavalier attitude towards masks and distancing, but the Right will offer no ‘mea culpa.’
In the reality-based community, there’s a perennially popular notion that those who deny the truth can only do so for a limited time. Eventually, no matter what people choose to believe, inconvenient facts will pile up until they can no longer be ignored. Then, cold, hard reality will bite those deniers right on the arse. The scales will fall from their eyes, the brain-fog will disperse, and in one brilliant Come to Jesus moment, the sleepers finally awaken. Unfortunately, this is only partially correct, as the events surrounding Trump’s COVID diagnosis show us all too well.
Unless you’ve been on a ventilator for the last several days, you couldn’t possibly have missed the news about President Trump’s COVID test result. (It’s easy to imagine him bragging, “no President has ever had a more positive COVID test than I have!”) If you’ve been paying attention to medical experts like Dr. Fauci, you could have seen this coming from miles away. The President ignored, downplayed, spun, and flat-out lied about the virus from the get-go. He avoided wearing a face covering and openly mocked Joe Biden, journalists, and White House staffers for doing so. He held indoor rallies like the one in Tulsa, where few wore masks and Team Trump peeled away social distancing stickers to encourage crowding. One would think that Herman Cain’s death would be a wake-up call, but it went unanswered. Perhaps it was only a matter of time until the President fell ill.
So, here we are. As if on cue, liberal-leaning media outlets expressed their expectations of a long-awaited mea culpa from the right wing. Jacobin points out that the lesson to be learned from Trump’s COVID diagnosis “is not that he deserved it or that anyone should celebrate — it’s that you can’t pretend that the basic laws governing the universe don’t apply to you forever.” Mother Jones is even more direct, asking, “is it finally time for Republicans to cut the crap?” Sadly, there’s an endless supply of cut-resistant crap out there, and it will continue to spout.
Here’s why. Conservatives and their pundits know they’re right about this (or, more accurately, they have a gut-level sensation that passes for certainty). That’s why right-wing interpretations of Trump’s COVID comeuppance will not sound anything like the humbling experience so many have expected for so long. Instead, their hypotheses will feature Republicans as the heroes or victims of this story, and their actions will not reflect a sober re-imagining of policy in the coronavirus era, but a doubling down on the attitudes that landed God Emperor Trump in a bed at Walter Reed.
Consider: FOX News host Greg Gutfield cast Cadet Bone Spurs as a war hero, selflessly marching next to the disposable, essential workers on America’s front lines. Quoth Gutfield, “The reason he didn’t hide from the virus is he didn’t want America to hide from the virus… He was going to walk out there on that battlefield with you, and not sit somewhere in a basement and tell you how you’ve got to get back to work, but not go out himself… So he took the risk, he got the virus, but he was doing it for us.” Cue the Lee Greenwood, right?
And then there’s Chris McDonald, the right-wing conspiracy hypothesist, who spun Trump’s COVID diagnosis as a shady ploy by the Democrats to avoid upcoming Presidential debates. Per Right Wing Watch, “When a viewer wondered if Democrats had spread the virus in an effort to infect Trump, McDonald said he wouldn’t put it past them. ‘Normally, I’d say no,’ McDonald responded. ‘I would think they would not do something as evil and wicked as that. But this bunch? I ain’t going to say they wouldn’t. I don’t have any proof they did, but I will tell you this: I wouldn’t put it past them. I wouldn’t put it past them.’”
Whether Trump’s COVID infection was due to his heroism, his victimization, or simply his cavalier attitude towards social distancing and wearing a face covering, one thing is for sure: the GOP has not learned a damn thing, even as the facts pile up and reality is chomping at their collective gluteus maximus. Not only did the President continue to expose people to his tainted exhalations after learning he was sick, but even now, Michigan Republicans are salivating at the chance to undermine protections that Governor Whitmer (D) put into place to keep Michiganders safe. “Freedom is messy,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R), who wants to bring an end to the state’s mask mandate. “We need to… learn to live with this virus.”
Some people never learn.