A contrasting mixture of compassion and consternation is turning out to be an abiding reaction to President Donald Trump’s recent hospitalisation over his reported brush with COVID-19.
What from all indications seems to have been a meticulously scripted and stage-managed series of events seemed to have one objective; squeeze the maximum campaign publicity out of what otherwise would have been a very concerning situation.
This parade of the unashamedly ridiculous bordering on the comical, ran from the announcement of his positive test to his return to the White House, interspersed with mind-boggling interludes in a theatre of comedy.
What started as deep concern over the President's heath, knowing that under his watch COVID-19 has been ravaging the United States with a death rate nearing 210,000 people, quickly turned into incredulity as it became evident that maximum publicity for personal political promotion seemed to be his driving objective.
Any hope that this would have been a sobering experience out of which a more introspective President would have emerged was soon dispelled.
It was uncomfortable viewing watching the supposedly Covid-afflicted, heavily medicated (with experimental medication for the disease) President of the United States during his brief “precautionary” hospitalisation at the Walter Reed Memorial Hospital embark on a series of actions apparently intent on reassuring the world, the nation, or perhaps his followers only?
Instead, the sum of it came across as someone obsessed with projecting an image of always being in control, an image which unfortunately translates into someone who is deathly scared of losing…at anything.
From firing off a series of what can only be described as self-aggrandising tweets, then contrasting that with describing his hospitalisation akin to going to “the real school”, but yet leaving his hospital confinement to go a joyride to wave at his supporters…all pointed to one thing - showmanship.
But the coronavirus pandemic, especially in the United States, requires more than showmanship. It demands leadership.
The lines continue to be blurred between President Trump’s cavalier handling of the pandemic on the national scale and his seeming disregard for the health of those around him.
The number of those very people being recently afflicted by the virus continues to spiral.
The contact tracing will be a massive undertaking. The security team who accompanied his on his impromptu joy ride to wave at his adherents, clearly in violation of standard Covid-19 protocol, are now themselves being suggested for mandatory 14-day isolation.
The White House itself is already being seen as in need of quarantining with Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, refusing to meet the Treasury Secretary out of concern that the Trump White House is a veritable Covid-19 petri dish.
It was uncomfortable viewing watching the President of the United States right down to his return to the White House, striking a pose on the balcony gazing into the setting sun (an allegory on his presidency or confidence of dominance over a bigger war?) while he quite literally snatched the mask he hates wearing off his face, fumbling to put it away in his pocket.
In a drama akin to a ratings-driven reality-tv show fronted by a publicity-hungry host, President Trump took the world along for the ride, apparently more focused on campaigning rhetoric than documenting the medical journey of his reported brush with Covid-19.
That would have been inspiring.
In that respect, it was a missed opportunity in which, quite regrettably, hubris trumped humility.
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