Update One: Trump to fly to Walter read and stay there for a few days. We are now in tea leave reading mode. The White House is far from transparent.
Let me be clear about this. The fact that the President of the United States came down with COVID-19 is far from surprising. Given how seriously, not, they have taken the virus it was a matter of time. Donald Trump got it from Hope Hicks, a longtime aide of the president. She had significant symptoms per the last reporting. The president is having mild symptoms. We also know at this time that likely the White House announcement for the Supreme Court was a super-spreader event. So far five people have gotten sick, Mike Lee of Utah, the head of the RNC, Hope Hicks, and both the president and the first lady.
This takes us into the Constitution and the continuity of government. Does it also lead to questions of how many people both Hicks and Trump could have infected? Hicks would be patient zero in this cluster because she was the first to come down with it. The disease infects, on average, three people. So far four more have come down with the disease. We also know that it is serious. It can kill even children, though the risk of serious complications goes up by age. The same goes for death.
So right now we can start speculating on how serious it is in this case. Medical professionals are far more qualified than me. But there are a few consequences in the world of politics.
Trump is off the campaign trail: There is no way he can take to the trail. He wants rallies. He desires the adulation. He believes this is the only way he can keep his base on his side. Silence is concerning. The vice-president will continue to hit the trail, even though he should isolate, It does not matter that for the moment he is negative. This is a CDC recommendation.
How many more will get sick? Senator Mike Lee (Utah-R) has announced he is positive. Expect more to announce this. It could lead to the suspension of hearings for the supreme court nominee. This is a reality that we need to take into account.
Republicans have been making light of the virus and masks: This denial is dangerous from a public health perspective. It makes COVID central to the last leg of the campaign. This is a disaster for the president who has been trying to push it to the background for months. However, perhaps this will tell Republicans, such as Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida that this is no joke. He decided to open up the state in spite of a higher positivity rate.
Continuity of government: Here is the reality. If the president is sick and cannot fulfill his duties, it falls to the Vice-President. While Mike Pence has tested negative, this does not mean he is in the clear. As we know, testing negative today does not mean you will not test positive the next day. So if Pence should get sick, and again cannot continue with his duties, it will fall to the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. This could lead to a fight with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo because this is not that clear at this point,. She has gotten a test as well, and the same caveats apply. She has also gotten briefed on the process.
A Constitutional Crisis: October usually has political surprises that shake-up campaigns. This is the ultimate October surprise. It should not be one, but in the age of Trump, anything can get us into a crisis of both legitimacy and succession if the president should die. We also know that members of the House and the Senate were exposed. It is a good question how many will get sick, and if any could die. This could scramble politics in the Hill as well.
A Crisis of trust: In another era, this crisis would be shocking to the body politics of the country. Prayers would come from all quarters and people would be hanging to every detail because the president is who he is. However, this has revealed the shortage of trust in this president. He has lied so much that a segment of the population does not trust what is coming from the White House.
The lies have been so extensive that there are two groups that do not believe this. One is composed of people on the Democratic side of the aisle. The lies have been so extensive that they simply do not believe anything coming out of the White House. There is a good reason for this. At this point, the White House has not done anything to diminish this view. They refuse to make this clear or give information that makes this more transparent. The White House continues to make light of the virus as well.
In fact, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was not wearing a mask earlier today when she talked to the press gaggle. Nor was Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. It is incredible that even now they are still flaunting the rules that the Centers for Disease Control have recommended. She said that he had mild symptoms but they have no credibility. So this becomes familiar to those of us who are familiar with Soviet History and Leonid Brezhnev’s last years. The cause of death has never been revealed, but the Kremlin was not forthcoming when he died,
it’s not just Brezhnev. This is where the saying “reading tea leaves” comes from. It seems that we need to apply this to the present White House. People are justified in taking anything coming out of the White House with a grain of salt. This is also the storyline with the press, who are pointing out to the many lies this president and White House have told.
In short, the White House has no credibility.
The Far Right
But we have another side to this story. It is where we could see violence. Some in places like 8Kun, 4Chan, Gab, and Parler are speculating that this is a coup. Some have gone so far as to suggest that the president was infected at the debate. Forget about what we know of the virus and incubation periods, they have. Likely Trump was infectious during the debate, and so was his wife. The idea that they are speculating that this is a way to kill Trump is dangerous. These are people who are ready to take up arms, at least some are. If the president dies, or for whatever reason cannot continue to fulfill his duties, these people are ready and willing. Some will likely go on “lone wolf” attacks. It is incumbent on the media to call them what they are, internal terrorist attacks, and part of a far-right movement. Portraying them as isolated does a disservice to all of us.
We all need to be aware of this, as we move forward. The far-right has been ready and willing to fight for Trump for some time. The Proud Boys specifically were told to “stand back, stand by” during the debate. They have made it into a slogan We cannot assume they will stand down, especially when they believe this is the deep state finally trying to eliminate the president. They also believe that an attack was coming on the president, before the election. So in the mind of many far-right militias, not just the Proud Boys, this is exactly that. Yes, there is a message to this effect from QAnon.
Fox News, so far, has told a hopeful story. That the president will go through the process and emerge stronger. In that sense, they are behaving like state tv in any authoritarian state. This is helping to increase the sense of siege with the far right. They also know that polls do not favor reelection.
This is now part of the political soup. The timing for this is disastrous for the White House.
It goes without saying. The best-case scenario right now is for the president and his wife to have a more or less mild case, and for him to resume the office in a timely fashion. However, the politics are already baked into the cake. This brings his management of the crisis to the forefront. Yes, this is deeply political.