Friday, October 9, 2020

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What did Donald Trump do today?

He performed a play about his health.

Trump appeared in a sort of mock tele-health appointment tonight on Tucker Carlson's evening show on Fox News. In the pre-taped and edited performance, Trump and physician Marc Siegel discussed his COVID-19 illness. 

Siegel and Trump have a history. He "remotely diagnosed" Hillary Clinton with a variety of incapacitating illnesses on Fox programs in the 2016 election season. He wrote a book in 2006 warning about a deadly future influenza pandemic—which fits neatly with Trump's baffling attempts to make the 2009 global swine flu outbreak look worse than the COVID-19 pandemic. (Almost twenty times more Americans have already died from COVID-19, with the outbreak still raging.) And most notably, Siegel was the interviewer who produced Trump's now-famous "person, woman, man, camera, TV" boast about passing a dementia screening.

Siegel asked Trump if he'd been tested for COVID-19 since being hospitalized. Trump's answer was vague, but he seemed to be claiming that he had a low or zero viral load. The White House has refused to provide any evidence of this.

In fact, the White House—which routinely reported on his negative tests in the past—is absolutely refusing to give any details whatsoever on when he last tested negative before his diagnosis. Trump showed up late to the debate venue last Tuesday, where he was supposed to be tested before taking the stage. He gave a noticeably short rally speech the following day, and aides said he seemed out of sorts. All this would be consistent with Trump having contracted COVID-19 at or before the "superspreader" Rose Garden event on Saturday, September 26th. 

If true, that would mean that Trump evading his testing not only endangered the lives of dozens of people in his own inner circle, to say nothing of staff at the venues he traveled to during that period, but also Joe Biden and his family. One of the people in the Trump cluster, former Gov. Chris Christie, has been hospitalized for over a week, and suggesting he is seriously ill.

Asked about other symptoms, Trump replied, "I didn't feel strong, I didn't have a problem with breathing, which a lot of people seem to have. I had none of that." This is obviously a lie; Trump needed oxygen at least twice, and visibly struggled to breathe during a photo op on his return from the hospital. He was also breathing heavily and coughing during a radio interview this morning, during which he claimed he was "cured."

Trump claimed he was no longer taking the mood-altering steroid dexamethasone—again, Trump's doctors have refused to provide any details. He also claimed he'd felt no effect from it, which may be true, but altered patients often don't know they're altered. Trump's own children were among those who took note of behavior that seemed erratic even by his standards.

Trump's actual doctors have not been made available to the public since Monday.

Why should I care about this?

  • There's less shame in admitting to being seriously ill than there is in lying about it.
  • The only possible reason the White House wouldn't immediately release Trump's negative test results is that it was so long ago that he would look negligent and stupid.