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Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis brings empathy for world’s least empathetic man

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

For about a minute today I found myself feeling sorry for Donald Trump. The poor man is now “battling” COVID-19 (the pugilistic verb is showing up all over the news). He was hospitalized. He’s out of shape. He’s 74 years old. His chief of staff called his symptoms “very concerning.”

Joe Biden is praying for him. Kamala Harris sends him heartfelt wishes. President Obama reminds us we’re all in this together and we want to make sure everyone is healthy.

But hold on: Why should we feel empathy for one of the least empathetic people in the world?

Out of respect. He’s a human being. And he’s our president.

Yet there’s an asymmetry here. While the Biden campaign has taken down all negative television advertising, the Trump campaign’s negative ads continue nonstop.

And at almost the same time that Biden, Harris and Obama offered prayers and consoling words, the Trump campaign blasted “Lyin’ Obama and Phony Kamala Harris” in a fundraising email and charged that “Sleepy Joe isn’t fit to be YOUR President.”

 

Can you imagine if Biden had contracted COVID-19 rather than Trump? Trump would be all over him. He’d attack Biden as weak, feeble and old. He’d mock Biden’s mask-wearing — “See, masks don’t work!” — and lampoon his unwillingness to hold live rallies: “Guess he got COVID-19 in his basement!”

How can we even be sure Trump has the disease? He’s lied about everything else. Maybe he’ll reappear in a day or two, refreshed and relaxed, saying, “COVID-19 is no big deal.” He’ll claim he took hydroxychloroquine and it cured him. He’ll boast that he won the “battle” with virus because he’s strong and powerful.

Meanwhile, his “battle” has distracted the nation from revelations that he’s a tax cheat who paid only $750 in taxes his first year in office, and barely anything for 15 years before that; and that he’s a failed businessman who’s still losing money.

And from his vicious, cringeworthy debate performance last week, in which he didn’t want to condemn white supremacists.

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