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Trump’s COVID-19 infection an opportunity for American unity

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Shortly after President Donald Trump tweeted the unsettling news that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus, I received a text from a liberal friend on the West Coast:

“I guess we’ve got our October surprise,” he texted. “Let’s hope that Biden doesn’t get it.”

He was reading my mind, echoing my own thoughts and those of countless others. You don’t have to be a liberal (although it helps) to go “tsk-tsk” over the president’s infection and gloat at least a little with thoughts of “I told you so.”

But, regardless of how I feel about the man, I respect the office. In fact, I criticize the man precisely because I respect the office. Out of respect, I believe we should stand with the president, even when we don’t agree with him — and especially now, as more than 2.5 million people already have voted in an election process that will decide whether he gets to stay president for another term.

As much as I criticize this Republican president for his policies and behavior, which have caused his approval ratings to lag behind those of his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, this president in this historic moment also is my president.

Trump’s coronavirus news comes only a couple of nights after a raucous campaign debate in which the president actually mocked his Democratic opponent for wearing “the biggest mask you ever saw,” as if there’s something wrong with following the recommendations of his own administration’s health officials.

 

It takes a lot to turn the wearing of masks into a political statement, yet that’s a major reason why the recovery in our country has been lagging behind other, less powerful industrial nations — where the Trump news triggered a trending of cynical reactions, such as “schadenfreude,” German for the pleasure derived from someone else’s misfortune.

Yes, the mask-shunning Macho Man Trump is part of Television Trump’s long-running news and social media drama. But the virus has no regard for media stardom. After six months of refusing to follow his own public health advisers, he has become our nation’s No. 1 case study in the hazards of failing to take government warnings seriously.

Even so, I sincerely hope he and the first lady have a smooth, swift recovery.

Meanwhile, we still have a COVID-19 crisis to deal with. In times of crisis, and regardless of party, Trump remains our president — the only president we’ve got.

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(c) 2020 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

 

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