So, This Is the October Surprise

So, the superspreader of hate and disinformation has tested positive (“Which is, like, negative,” he might say) for the coronavirus. At the time of this writing, Melania Trump and Hope Hicks have also tested positive.

At Tuesday’s debate, Trump and his family, who pointedly spurned wearing masks, were likely unwitting (much, much emphasis on that word when one writes of the Trump clan) superspreaders there, too, and in the days and glad-handings that followed.

And Donald Trump is indeed the premier superspreader of disinformation about COVID-19, globally, as shown by a recent study.

I’m not worried about Trump; he’s such an Alpha male he will obviously do fine. He will dominate the virus. Seriously, my only concern about him is that he will have a mild case and take that as proof of his own oft-stated view that the coronavirus pandemic is somehow overstated, that it affects only older people who already have health issues. That would without doubt embolden him to push further disinformation about the pandemic and cost even more American lives.

As Kristin Urquiza devastatingly said at the DNC (she also attended the debate) about her father, who died of COVID-19:

I’m one of the many who have lost a loved one to Covid. My dad, Mark Anthony Urquiza, should be here today, but he isn’t. My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump — and for that he paid with his life.

But I’m concerned about former Vice President Joe Biden, who faced Trump’s aerosolized vitriol for 90 minutes during the debate. Trump’s facts were light as air but so were the particles emanating from his inflamed lungs. For me, why the debate was held indoors is still a question.

And I’m concerned about Biden’s family and staff who thought enough of their fellow human beings to follow the rules and wore masks at the event.

There is something fitting about the Trump campaign finishing in this way. As the U.S. death toll marches dumbly on toward an expected 370,000 by the end of the year, the man who purports to be leading the country continues to downplay the dangers, he continues to push his conception that coronavirus is not really such a big deal.

And his followers believe it. Just yesterday I was almost moved to comment to an old pal who was asking on social media if anyone that he knows has had an experience with the coronavirus. Despite all the news stories of horrific, lonely deaths of loved ones in hospitals, despite images on the news of mass graves, despite the combined efforts of scientists all over the world to communicate the gravity of the coronavirus threat, he was asking if anyone close to him had actually experienced an illness, a loss. (He did get responses from friends, including an ICU nurse, that, yes, this is real.) But I doubt he was moved to drop his view that it is all a hoax.

And we know who is to blame for that.

Already there are conspiracy theories being spun that Trump is faking it, that he doesn’t want to debate again (or, perhaps, that he’s too busy with the important work of fighting satanic pedophiles by being “Q,” or some such), but that seems crazy — he imagines he won the first debate. He dominated, as “Fox ‘News’” put it. Trump loves bloviating freeform in front of a camera even more than he loves playing golf. (And he loves playing golf on the taxpayers’ dime — about a third of his time as president reportedly has been spent on golf outings.)

Some of my friends are expressing dire wishes for Donald Trump, but I wasn’t brought up that way. I believe the International Criminal Court in the Hague should include willfully spreading misinformation during a pandemic as a crime against humanity, but for now I’ll settle for standard courts.

Recover, Mr. Trump. I hope it is bumpy enough for you to learn to take this seriously, to almost care for your fellow citizens and take positive actions in your last days as president.

But I truly pray you live to face charges.

Written by

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

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