The Republican Party thinks only weaklings die of COVID-19
President Trump returned to the White House Monday evening from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after receiving multiple aggressive treatments for his COVID-19 infection. Yet, despite his protestations otherwise, he seems obviously not back to full health. It pretty much always takes at least a week to recover from a bad case of the disease, and often much longer. He has not yet tested negative, and video of his White House arrival appeared to show him wincing in pain while taking deep, labored breaths.
Perhaps Trump will recover with no complications. But it's also quite possible that he is experiencing a false dawn. Often in the progress of the disease there is a sharp turn for the worse at around this point. No sensible person of his age and with his risk factors would leave the hospital until he was for sure on the mend. So either Trump is going to recover thanks to the best medical care available and his luck of the devil, or his condition is going to nosedive again, and he is going to look like the biggest fool alive (or dead).
Naturally, Trump and his party of cult followers have started braying in unison that he has definitely already recovered, thanks entirely to his masculine fortitude and positive mindset. Instructed Trump: "Don't let it dominate you. Don't be afraid of it. You're going to beat it." If your friends or family have died of the virus, it must be their fault!
Georgia Republican Senator (and stock sale timing expert) Kelly Loeffler echoed this sentiment with a video showing Trump bludgeoning a photoshopped virus. Ben Shapiro "joked" that Trump's body might produce a magic virus-killing serum. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) resurrected the moldy-oldie Chuck Norris meme to say that "COVID will have to recover from President Trump." Sean Hannity compared Trump to Winston Churchill on Fox News. Paul Joseph Watson called him a "chad." Unbelievably, Tomi Lahren continued to mock basic pandemic precautions, implying that Joe Biden is a sissy girly man for wearing a mask. And on Tuesday morning Trump was back to falsely claiming the coronavirus is no worse than the flu, even while he continues to personally infect his own aides and staffers.
All this is right out of Trump's signature brand of positive thinking. When he was a kid, he went to the Manhattan Marble Collegiate Church, where pastor Norman Peale preached a self-esteem gospel. Through his sermons and book The Power of Positive Thinking, Peale taught that people could transform themselves and their lives through wishful thinking. As Paul Blumenthal writes at HuffPost, this is part of the reason for Trump's compulsively hyperbolic description of everything he does and every characteristic he has as the best that has ever existed. If you repeat it enough times, it must be so.
This self-help ideology appeals to two types of people: working-class folks who have been tricked into believing that America is the land of limitless opportunity, and very rich people who need a reason to believe that they have really earned what they inherited, stole, or exploited. Trump is firmly in the latter category — not only has he had literally hundreds of millions of dollars handed to him tax-free, he has repeatedly been bailed out by others after he wasted that money on failed real estate developments. But no, he isn't a cheating swindler who squandered a fortune and would have been run out of any non-corrupt country on a rail 30 years ago, he just has a success mindset! (In a dark irony, several of Trump's chintzy moneymaking schemes involved defrauding marks who bought into his branding as a business expert.)
In exactly the same way, Trump is now taking personal credit for world-class medical care provided by Joe Q. Taxpayer after he infected himself through his own egregious carelessness. It is reasonably probable that if he had not gone to Walter Reed over the weekend Trump would be in dire shape. Reporting on his condition indicates that he had a very high fever and his oxygenation dipped alarmingly — classic warning signs of a bad COVID case. In addition to his personal helicopter service and extensive medical staff, he also got cutting-edge antibody therapy unavailable to the vast majority of Americans, all free of charge.
Imagine praising this irresponsible, spoiled dolt, let alone acting as though he is some ubermensch pinnacle of tough manliness. But alas, this is not the first time the world has seen frenzied, hyperbolic praise of an objectively pitiful person who is putting his own life and the lives of others at risk. It's classic tinpot dictatorship politics, as seen in places like Turkmenistan today (where President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow has incidentally banned any mention of coronavirus). The more pathetic and inept the leader, the more it is necessary to dial up the cult of personality to compensate.
Unfortunately for Trump's re-election campaign, bowing down before Dear Leader because he is successfully standing up and talking while sick probably isn't all that comforting to the friends and family of the at least 215,000 Americans who are dead thanks in large part to Trump's bungling response. He thought he could magic the pandemic away with happy talk. Now he's trying to do the same with his own infection. Only someone who has had the world handed to him could be so blind.