Trump and his Covid diagnosis: Should we have empathy for the world’s least empathetic man?

This is what Robert Reich has to say on the matter.

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’s in the hospital. He’s out of shape. He’s 74 years old. His chief of staff reportedly says his symptoms are “very concerning”.

But hold on: why should we feel empathy for one of the most unempathetic people in the world?

One reason is out of respect. He’s a human being. 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 non-stop.

Can you imagine if Biden had contracted Covid 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 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 is no big deal”. He’ll claim he took hydroxychloroquine, and it cured him. He’ll boast that he won the “battle” with Covid because he’s strong and powerful, without crediting the best medical care money can buy.

Whether responding to Trump’s hospitalization this weekend or to Trump’s larger political maneuvers, Democrats want to act decently and nicely, to take the high road and be fair. They want to protect democratic norms, values, and institutions.

This is admirable. It’s also what Democrats say they stand for.

But the other side isn’t playing the same game. Trump and his enablers will do anything to retain and enlarge their power.

It’s possible to be sympathetic toward Trump this weekend while acknowledging that he is subjecting America to a moral test.

What kind of society does the nation want: one based on decency and democracy, or on viciousness and raw power?