President Trump Has Coronavirus

That news coming overnight, after a top advisor, Hope Hicks tested positive earlier in the day, and exhibited symptoms, according to multiple reports

First Lady Melania Trump tested positive too, according to the President. According to the New York Times, the President’s physician says Trump is currently doing “well”. But did not say if he is or isn’t showing any symptoms.

Most early news reports focused on the sequence of events leading up to the postive test result. Some dove into the political implications: both for governing, and continuing the campaign, whether the President’s symptoms are mild or he’s even symptom-free and simply quarantines for a time (a few pointing out he’ll still have Twitter), or his health situation becomes more severe. A few others discussed the possible impact on financial markets.

We realize this is a development for which people will have a wide range of visceral and emotional reactions. And while any kind of political assessment is premature, if not inappropriate at this time, given where we are in the campaign, it can’t be ignored.

Which is where The New York Times’ Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman seem to be coming from when they write:

If [Trump] becomes sick, it could raise questions about whether he should remain on the ballot at all. Even if he does not become seriously ill, the positive test could prove devastating to his political fortunes given his months of diminishing the seriousness of the pandemic even as the virus was still ravaging the country and killing about 1,000 more Americans every day. He has repeatedly predicted the virus “is going to disappear,” asserted that it was under control and insisted that the country was “rounding the corner” to the end of the crisis. He has scorned scientists, saying they were mistaken on the severity of the situation.”

Still, with this degree of uncertainty about how well or how poorly the President may fare health-wise, it’s really hard for us to agree completely with that assessment. If Trump does as well as could possibly be expected with the disease, while he will still miss much campaigning including many massive rallies, and very possibly the next debate, because it’s scheduled for less than 14-days from now, he could also emerge from a period of quarantine at the White House projecting the image of someone who had taken on the disease and conquered. Which might not erase all those negatives, but get people pulling for him nonetheless. No matter what, it puts his opponent in a precarious day-to-day position as well. Joe Biden will continue campaigning, no doubt, as he should, but he also can’t be seen as capitalizing on the President’s pain.

OK, two paragraphs of political talk is more than enough for now. Especially since we really still know so little. And really, COVID-19 itself is the only thing that’s really in control of how this is going to play out.

As the President might say, we’ll see…

Be safe and vigilant, everyone. Wear your masks.