Episode 55: Commander-in-Capacitated

In the fifty-fifth episode of The Latest, we worry about what might happen to the coronavirus now that it’s entered President Trump. Bridget Skaggs, a Joe Biden campaign organizer, joins the program for this week’s O.J. Simpson Twitter Update.

The Latest with Greg Ott
The Latest with Greg Ott
Episode 55: Commander-in-Capacitated


Those voices are discussing the coronavirus, that thing, like the president, we all hope will go away quickly yet keeps finding a way to worm itself back into our daily lives. 

As news broke overnight that Mr Trump and the First Lady have tested positive for COVID-19, citizens around the world scrambled to address a very difficult question: do you still buy a sympathy card for people who have no sympathy?

Since the start of the pandemic, Mr. Trump has downplayed the spread of the novel coronavirus, likening the 200,000 dead under his watch to the same type of rounding error that allows him to maintain that he’s a billionaire. 

Two weeks ago, Mr. Trump told a reporter that he wasn’t concerned about catching the virus at one of his signature rallies, believing only his racial invective and the desire to buy a wardrobe of tacky and explicit t-shirts in the parking lot to be the only infectious qualities such events.

At the first presidential debate on Tuesday, which looked less like a debate and more like a guy screaming at the employees of a Burger King to demand that they honor his expired coupon for a Double Quarter Pounder, Mr. Trump mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask and maintaining social distance, painting the former vice president as someone who needlessly worries about public health when he’s better off concerning himself over matters more presidential, like spending $70,000 on hair styling to make yourself appear to be an evening’s silhouette of a sand dune. 

Even the Trump children in attendance rejected multiple attempts from the Cleveland Clinic to get them to wear masks, believing that they’ve already been exposed to a far more dangerous pathogen: their own DNA.

The President appears to have contracted the virus from someone within his inner circle, such as advisor Hope Hicks, whose name doubles as a subtle campaign slogan. 

But no matter who gave it to him, he’s been in close contact over the past week with several of the Republican Party’s top officials, leading Vice President Pence, who tested negative, to self-quarantine, RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who tested positive, to cancel all upcoming events, and Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski to feign dissappointment and outrage but ultimately justify voting in favor of an eventual bill that gives the virus to each and every American.

The Internet is awash with thoughts and prayers for the leader of the free world, but I’m struggling to extend so much as a cough drop to the man, let alone my best wishes for a speedy recovery. 

As early as February, the president admitted that the cornavirus is, quote, “deadly stuff,” but he’s the one that’s been treating masks like condoms, an uncomfortable inconvenience that may have a slight impact on someone else’s life depending on whether it’s been worn.

A new study from Cornell University found that Mr. Trump alone is responsible for 38% of all published pieces of coronavirus misinformation —  522,472 news articles — telling people that the pathogen came from bat soup, you can treat it by injecting disinfectants, and he’s the one who stopped the spread of the original virus, Hillary Clinton.

And when people needed supplies at the start of the pandemic, he left state governors to fend for themselves, pitting red states against blue states in order to bid for life-saving equipment, as if our nation’s public health is just another episode of “Storage Wars.” 

Yes, it’s a shame that the man caught it, but why should any of us be the ones who are shocked, when he’s the one that’s been playing with a live wire?

Some speculate that he doesn’t actually have the virus, that he’s faking it in order to lock down the coveted lost-my-sense-of-taste vote. 

Others worry about what’s going to happen to the remainder of the presidential campaign, rendering it difficult for one candidate to interrupt the other during the next debate because he’s hooked up to a ventilator.

But whether the news is true or false, whether he’s back on his feet tomorrow or bedridden indefinitely, and whether the country gets back to treating this disease as seriously as we pretended to back in March, one fact remains abundantly clear: this man is sick.