President Trump testing positive for COVID-19 was a bit of a shock for everyone, albeit a shock that we saw coming. I wanted to get some thoughts down on the subject because I have some complicated feelings on the whole situation, thoughts that I’m sure many of us are having. I’ve been grappling with my thoughts over the subject, trying to balance schadenfreude with compassion and understanding. I’ve landed in a grey area. I wanted to work through those thoughts here and be as honest as possible. For those of us who consider ourselves to be liberals, and therefore against the President, the thoughts we’ve been keeping quiet are all too human. Let’s talk about those, the thoughts no one has been mentioning.
I was awake at one in the morning when the news came through that the President tested positive. My phone made a noise while I was just settling into bed, and out of morbid curiosity, I checked it. Turns out, the President and the First Lady both tested positive. Truth be told, my first feeling was, “Is this how it ends?” I’m not proud of it, but I’m not going to hide it as though I didn’t feel it. I won’t posture to seem more enlightened, there’s enough of that to go around the world six times over. I turned on the TV to find Brian Williams with an inscrutable face, delivering what little was known at the time.
I couldn’t stop thinking, “He’s in bad shape already, what if this does it? Is this the way this nightmare ends?” I did not and do not want him to die. Let’s make that very clear. I want him to make a full recovery as I would any person who contracts the virus. But I’d be lying if my thoughts didn’t go first towards his death. Shortly after turning off the TV, I forced my head into my pillow and my entire body experienced this overwhelming sense of dread. From my fingers through my arms and down to my toes, I felt this feeling that something was amiss. I still don’t know what it was, but it snapped me out of schadenfreude and into the reality that the President has the virus that has killed so many. Whether or not I like the guy, and again, I don’t, I still don’t want our president to die.
The following morning, I awoke feeling a complicated mix of feelings. I couldn’t help but feel like with the New York Times’s story about President Trump’s taxes, the President’s behavior at the debate, and his handling of the virus, he brought this upon himself. President Trump was given every opportunity to not only be honest about the virus, but also pass along helpful information to unify Americans regarding the best ways to beat it. He did none of that. Instead he spread disinformation and disavowed mask-wearing as though it was a breach of our basic freedoms. Then, after a week of maskless arrogance on behalf of the President and his cohort, the President, the First Lady, and a host of people in President Trump’s immediate circle all tested positive for the virus. This is exactly what happens when you don’t follow the most basic rules we’ve all been given. It’s as though someone gave President Trump a pair of kitchen shears and said, “Donald, do not run with these,” and then the President not only ran with them, but took out his own eye and injured several others. This is what happened here. The President knew what to do, but didn’t do it, and now he’s in the hospital with the virus. On top of that, the President is already quite overweight and of the age range for whom the virus can really do some damage. Does he deserve this?
No, no he does not deserve this. Is President Trump a bad person? Most certainly, but to say that he deserves this disease is juvenile and crass. Of course, he doesn’t. He didn’t listen, and now he’s dealing with the grim consequences, as all adults must – actions have consequences. This happens to be the first time in a long time for this President that his actions actually yielded a consequence that affected him so directly. But, he doesn’t deserve this. We must balance our feelings. It’s absolutely human to feel a little pang of dark joy. We all dislike this man immensely, he’s done irrevocable damage to our country. President Trump is one of the most odious people I’ve ever seen. However, we are all better than allowing that side of ourselves to get the last word. We have to acknowledge those feelings, entertain them, and discuss them with others. It’s cathartic to work through it. But eventually, you and your people will conclude that our President is quite ill, and this is a grave matter. Schadenfreude is natural, but get it under control.