Image for post
Image for post
COVID-19 Projection for the United States from the IHME

Much is still not known about what the Trumps knew about their physical condition when they traveled last week to Cleveland for the first presidential debate, but the timeline is being worked out hour by hour.

We now know that the Trumps and their family and staffers did not arrive in Cleveland in time to be tested before the debate. We also know that despite the agreed on rules, the Trump team took off their masks and refused to put them back on even after being admonished by a Cleveland Clinic physician.

An obvious question is, If Trump knew he was feeling under the weather and had not been tested on Tuesday, did he hide it so he could do the debate, just hoping for the best? A harder question is, Did he suspect he was infected and purposely roll the dice that evening for Joe Biden?

Was he thinking that if he had contracted the coronavirus that he would go ahead and endanger Biden, too?

Was this a psychopath’s way of making the playing field even again?

According to the timeline, on Wednesday, during a campaign trip to Minnesota, close Trump advisor Hope Hicks showed symptoms on the flight back to Washington. She tested positive the next day, Thursday, just about the time Trump traveled to his club at Bedminster, N.J., for a fundraiser, where he met, unmasked, with about 100 supporters. Afterward, Trump reportedly felt bad enough to be tested again. That he was apparently showing signs of COVID pneumonia as soon as on Friday, and getting treated for it at Walter Reed hospital, means that he had likely been sick for some time.

If you look up the defining traits of a psychopath, you’ll find various lists very much like this:

  • Engages in socially irresponsible behavior

Now, of course each and every one of these traits fits Trump like a made-in-the-USA Trump tie (with that requisite full Alpha-male Windsor — c’mon!) that was actually made in China. But that last point is incredibly pertinent in the time of this pandemic.

Remember his answer, way back on March 13, when he was asked if he took responsibility for the lag in the creation of testing kits in the United States? In fact, when the Fraudster in Chief does pass from the scene, what he said then would be a fitting epitaph chiseled into a grotesquely outsized slab of marble (with gold flecks):


How do you think the Secret Service men, and their loved ones, feel about Trump’s little COVID-19 joy ride during his hospital stay, in order to wave to his supporters? How many of the traits of a psychopath did he cover with that move?

Why just a few moments ago we watched on television as he was released from the hospital to return to the White House, where he promptly, and pointedly, removed his mask for the cameras and did his best strongman impersonation with his patented resting Mussolini face.

Pulitzer Prize–winning Journalist David Cay Johnston, who specializes in tax and economic issues, wrote an illuminating article recently about how Village Voice journalist Wayne Barrett recognized Trump for who he was very early on — so much so, that Trump tried to win him over to silence him.

Way back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Barrett saw through Trump’s smarmy charm and laughable bluster and began doggedly reporting on his cons and other manipulations. In a 1982 story about Trump’s bilking of the public in order to erect his namesake condo monstrosity on Fifth Avenue and for his re-do of the Grand Hyatt Hotel at Grand Central, Barrett dubbed Trump “Mr. Gimme, the tax break whiz kid.”

New Yorkers listened: only a small percentage voted for Trump in 2016 (only 1 in 9 residents in Manhattan). Thanks to Barrett’s work, they knew more than they needed to know about Mr. Gimme.

A story from Toronto has been popping up, about a fraudster who took advantage of lonely women, wooing them, impressing them, and then talking them into various “investments.” Shaun Rootenberg played the part of a successful businessman, an entrepreneur who hobnobbed with some famous folks (his go-to mention was business magnate Richard Branson). His “rom-con” marks lost hundreds of thousands to him.

Last week he was sentenced to 6 years in prison.

Reading that story, one could not help but think that Trump has done to our country what the Canadian fraudster did to those poor women.

As voters, we should have been more on the ball in 2016. We should have seen this ultimate fraudster wooing voters with his stories of being a great businessman, a fabulous dealmaker, coming from, well, a number of decades away.

Many of us still need to see it.

Written by

Kirk Swearingen is a poet and an independent journalist. His work has appeared in Salon and The American Journal of Poetry.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store