Suppose that a social scientist is investigating the prevalence of suicides. The scientist thinks that he should be a participant in order to fully understand the act of suicide. Thus, he puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger and …
That fatally flawed logic seems to be at play with Trump contracting the COVID–19 virus. Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) asks After the president’s positive test, did Team Trump learn anything? The president answers: “I learned a lot about COVID,” Trump said. “I learned it by really going to school.” Perhaps he flunked his courses?
In February, a running joke took shape, as Republicans said Donald Trump had learned valuable lessons from his impeachment ordeal, and he’d avoid similarly corrupt behavior in the future. It was funny, of course, because the president went out of his way to make clear that he’d learned nothing whatsoever from his political crisis and actually felt vindicated by the process.
This came to mind this morning as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a sycophantic Trump ally, told Politico that the president might also learn valuable lessons from his coronavirus ordeal.
“This is a chance for him, quite frankly, to talk about the human side of this: ‘This is tough, this is hard, we’re gonna get through it,’” [Graham] said. “If he comes out of this thing a little bit humbled and focused on speeding up vaccines and trying to safely reopen the country, then I think he’ll probably be okay.”
Ah, yes, of course. Because if there’s one thing we know about Donald Trump, it’s his famous capacity for humility and the eagerness with which he focuses on effective governance.
The South Carolinian’s misguided optimism notwithstanding, is there any evidence at all that Trump and his team have learned anything since the president’s announcement from early Friday?
Jason Miller, a top Trump campaign aide, hit the Sunday shows and continued to criticize Joe Biden’s mask-wearing, complaining that the former vice president has “too often” used masks “as a prop.” Around the same time, Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes tried to defend the Trump family ignoring the mask-wearing rules at last week’s debate.
Also yesterday, White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien responded to his boss’ health crisis by telling a national television audience yesterday, “We have to open up the country.”
Hours later, the president – contagious after contracting a deadly virus – thought it’d be fun to briefly leave the hospital to go for a little joy ride, indifferent to the risks this might pose to those around him.
And then, of course, there’s White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who, despite her exposure to those who’ve been infected, spoke with reporters yesterday without a mask – less than 24 before she learned that she tested positive, too.
Does any of this sound like a presidential team that has learned valuable lessons?
In an online video released yesterday, Trump told the public, “I learned a lot about COVID. I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school.”
Putting aside the fact that the president really ought to have learned “a lot about COVID” many months ago, it’s hard not to wonder whether he’s flunked his courses at “the real school.”
Update: In a tweet announcing his departure from Walter Reed, Trump told Americans, “Don’t be afraid of Covid.” In other words, the Republican doesn’t want people to fear a deadly virus that’s already claimed the lives of over 200,000 Americans, and left many more with serious illnesses.
Trump has spent much of the year downplaying the crisis. Even after his own hospitalization, he’s apparently learned nothing.