From the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump’s response has been motivated by politics and the presidential race — to the detriment of the nation. Now that the president has been stricken with COVID-19, politics is still his guide — even if it might be to the detriment of his own health and to those who work with him, while still being dangerous to the nation.
Trump’s decision Monday to leave Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was being treated, is alarming, and seems unwise given what’s known about the virus. His own doctor acknowledged Trump “may not be entirely out of the woods yet,” and that his team was in “a bit of uncharted territory” given the unprecedented combination of therapies, some experimental, the president has received. Trump also disregarded his advisers, who urged him to remain at Walter Reed.
But caution has never been the president’s buzzword. The animating argument of his campaign has been that he is strong and that former Vice President Joe Biden is weak. Being ensconced in a hospital is not good optics when your pitch is your supposed virility, especially with Election Day four weeks away. But this is a sadly limited notion of strength. Being strong also includes doing the right thing even when that is difficult. That means thinking of those who must work with you in the White House at a time when you are still shedding the virus and are supposed to be in quarantine.