Reckless Endangerment

Trump rarely surprises me any more. I take for granted that he sinks to depths that normal human beings won’t, but in the last several days he has actually surprised me again.

I understood that he wouldn’t care if people he didn’t know got sick with COVID-19. I didn’t know that not caring would extend to people he interacts with all the time personally.

It starts with the timeline of his own COVID-19. There were two tests he took and there was about a day when one had indicated positive but the result on the other hadn’t come back yet. During that day, when he’d been informed that according to one test he was positive, he didn’t isolate. Quite the contrary. He went on Fox News with Sean Hannity. He attended a major fundraising function in Cleveland. Without masks, of course. What’s going to happen if wealthy donors in Cleveland or friendly news people at Fox catch this because he chose to be in a room with them without a mask while already knowing he had it? What’s going to happen if one of them dies? If donors or journalists ever wanted to know how little they mean to Trump, they’ve learned now.

But that’s not all. The other day he decided to take a ride from Walter Reed Hospital to go wave to his supporters. Sounds considerate, right?  Give them a thrill. He even wore a mask. But as Dr. James Phillips, a doctor at Walter Reed and a professor at George Washington University pointed out, the vehicle he went in is designed specifically to avoid circulating outside air in case of gas attack. He was in a small, totally sealed environment with Secret Service agents while sick with a lethal disease that spreads through air. Transmission is based mainly on a formula of time of exposure times concentration of the virus, and this environment was super concentrated – very small and very sealed. All the agents in the car will have to quarantine for two weeks and that will be the limit of what happens to them if they’re very lucky. And agents have reportedly begun to talk about this anonymously, about how little he seems to care about the safety of the people who keep him safe.

Why did he do it? White House officials say he did it because the optics are important, not only for domestic politics but for international politics. We have tense relations with China (among others) right now and someone might think, quite rightly, that a good time to pull something militarily is when we have a really sick President who isn’t temporarily relinquishing executive responsibility while hospitalized.

Decent case, but highly unlikely to be his rationale. What we know about his state of mind at Walter Reed is that he was extremely bored. We know he goes to rallies not because he needs them politically but because they give him a lift personally, which this certainly did. He needs to be among people who idolize him. And for this he endangered the lives of the men and women who devote their lives to protecting his.

It’s not like he doesn’t know COVID-19 can be lethal. When he was going to Walter Reed, he asked if he was going to die from this a like a friend of his did.

I don’t know what his line is or if it exists. Does he care about the safety of his kids? I know he looks out for Number One, but is there even a Number Two?

There are some people for whom this won’t make a difference, people who will never understand that He Does Not Care About You. Will this make a difference to his major donors, given what he did to a group of them in Cleveland? Will this make a difference to friendly journalists, given what he did to people at Fox? Maybe we’ll know in a day or two.

I don’t like suffering, in anyone. It’s both a personal and a religious thing. But by “anyone” should I mean human beings? Does he qualify?

Oh well. I don’t really like suffering in animals either. I guess he at least qualifies there.

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