Sunday, March 15, 2020


Grigory Rasputin in hospital, 1914, after a first assassination attempt, via History Daily.

Friday afternoon's press conference, 35 minutes in, I thought I heard Trump say he wasn't going to get tested for Covid-19, though he didn't exactly say that:
Q: And also Senat- -- I want to ask another question, if you’ll let me. Senator Lindsey Graham and also Senator Scott -- Rick Scott -- are self-isolating. Are you planning to take any kind of precautionary measure to protect you and also your staff who was there with him?
A: No, we have no symptoms whatsoever. And we have -- we had a great meeting with the President of Brazil, Bolsonaro. Great guy. Very -- a very tremendous -- he’s done -- he’s doing a fantastic job for Brazil. And, as you know, he tested negative -- meaning, nothing wrong -- this morning. And we got that word, too.

Though he certainly hinted it very strongly at 43 minutes:
Well, I don't know that I had exposure, but I don't have any of the symptoms. And we do have a White House doctor and, I should say, many White House doctors, frankly. And I asked them that same question, and they said, “You don't have any symptoms whatsoever.” And we don't want people without symptoms to go and do the test.

But just after an hour he started suggesting that he might want to defy the doctors' recommendations and get tested "anyway", for the reason that he "thought" he would:

Q: Are you being selfish by not getting tested and potentially exposing -
A: Well, I didn’t say I wasn’t going to be tested.
Q: Are you going to be?
A: Most likely, yeah [that "yeah", like James Cagney or Edward G. Robinson in a gangster part, is the tell that he's improvising]. Most likely.
Q: When do you think that will happen?
A: Not for that reason [i.e., not because he's afraid of looking selfish?], but because I think I will do it anyway. Fairly soon.
Q: Will you let us know the results?
A: We’re working on that. We’re working out a schedule.

Then again,
hours later, just before midnight, the White House physician released a statement saying Mr. Trump would not be tested — nor would he self-quarantine — even as it became apparent that he had interacted with not one but with at least two infected members of the Brazilian delegation that visited his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida last weekend.
Mr. Trump’s interactions with the infected individuals qualified as “LOW risk,” wrote Sean P. Conley, the White House physician, so quarantine was not recommended. He added that because the president continued to show no symptoms of the virus, “testing for Covid-19 is not currently indicated.”
All of which made total Trumpian sense to me: he had no intention of taking the test in the first place, and had his explanation well prepared, but lost sight of it in the excitement and fatigue of being questioned and found himself volunteering in spite of himself, and now he wanted to get out of it. So he had the doctor write him a note: "Please excuse Donald from taking his Covid-19 test, as he is not ill." As it were.

Which didn't work very well, given that everybody and his brother were diving into self-isolation, in the remarkable nexus from the CPAC convention and Mar-a-Lago to Washington of conservative standard-bearers who'd come into contact with others who'd tested positive, including Doug Collins, Matt Gaetz, Mark Meadows, Paul Gosar, Louis Gohmert (who declined to sequester himself), Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Rick Scott, and Matt Schlapp. Why was Trump, along with Pence, Ivanka Trump, and Attorney General Barr, refusing to follow the experts' advice (per Politico "Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the lead experts on Trump’s coronavirus task force, said on MSNBC Friday that 'yes,' someone who has been exposed to a person with the virus should isolate themselves and find a test, but would not speak directly about the president’s situation") and taking himself out of social circulation?

Hence, the next morning,
Trump told reporters his temperature was "totally normal" during a Saturday news conference. He said he took the test last night, and the results would take a "few days" while it was sent to a lab.
He took the test some hours before Dr. Conley issued his statement that there was no reason for him to take it? That's interesting.

And then it didn't take "a few days" to get the results but a few hours:
"Last night after an in-depth discussion with the President regarding COVID-19 testing, he elected to proceed," Sean Conley, the physician to the president, wrote in a memo released by the White House. "This evening I received confirmation that the test is negative."
Conley gave him the test and then went home and issued that statement that there was no reason for him to take it?

And is there any reason to take Dr. Conley's statement any more seriously than those of his predecessors. Dr. Bornstein who invited Trump to dictate his own report or Ronnie Jackson aka Dr. Feelgood? Dr. Conley, who's only given Trump "phase 1" of his annual physical, back in that mysterious run to Walter Reed in November, and hasn't found time to give him the rest yet?

So, the total and utter bogusity of this whole story should be evident to all sentient creatures. Trump has not had a Covid-19 test, though he's repeatedly been exposed to people who are infected, in his resort property in Palm Beach, and the Trump-worshiping conference in Maryland, in his own official plane, and who knows where else. His official doctor issued lies about it, for two days in a row, with no purpose other than to provide post-facto evidence that the president wasn't lying, though he clearly was, and at considerable risk of exposing others to infection, from that cigar-store monument Mike Pence to the actually important Dr. Fauci.

And when I woke up this morning to learn that the media don't seem inclined to doubt this obvious, idiotic fiction at all—
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Mara, the president said he finally did get tested for the coronavirus Friday night. And the test came back negative, they said. But that was after weeks of shaking hands, coming into contact with people confirmed to be infected. It seemed, to many, to be very cavalier.
LIASSON: Well, he has changed his attitude. At first, he seemed to dismiss the crisis or worry more about the optics of it than the reality of it. But now he is talking about social distancing; he's just not modeling it. At - on that press conference in the Rose Garden on Friday, he was shaking hands. He was sharing a microphone. But after saying he wouldn't get tested, he did get tested. And his doctor says, at least for now, the president is negative.
—I started feeling a twinge of real despair. Is there really nothing this miscreant can do that will teach people his word can't be trusted? Looking for a more vivid metaphor than Teflon, I thought of the sinister monk Grigory Rasputin, the man who seemingly couldn't be killed no matter what weapons his attackers raised against him. Steve M is seeing a scenario in which his incompetent handling of the pandemic together with his willingness to take the credit for whatever goes right end up getting him reelected.

Today is the Ides of March. What on earth is going to bring him down?

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