The Democrats and their friends in the Fourth Estate could hardly believe their luck when the news broke that President Trump had contracted COVID-19. They clearly believe he is finished politically and that their Potemkin presidential candidate will now win the upcoming election in a walk. The following headline from Politico captures this collective delusion: “Biden looks to seal election after Trump’s week from hell.” This is precisely how they reacted to the Hollywood Access tape that was released at the same point in the 2016 presidential race. Most “experts” pronounced the Trump campaign dead and Hillary Clinton began measuring the drapes for the Oval Office.
One of the most poignant findings of that survey, by the way, was this: “Americans overwhelmingly reject the idea that presidents should isolate themselves from the citizenry for safety’s sake.”
What none of these people bothered to do was calibrate the effect of the tape on Trump’s actual supporters. Consequently, we began to see headlines like this one published by CBS News on October 10, 2016: “Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by 14 points nationally.” This story attributed Clinton’s illusory lead to the “lewd comments about women in 2005.” By October 18, the RealClearPolitics average indicated that Clinton’s alleged lead in the national polls had grown to 7.1 percent. In the end, of course, Trump voters ignored the Hollywood Access tape and he had far more supporters in key battleground states than the pollsters and pundits imagined in their wildest nightmares.
Fast-forwarding to the present, Trump is arguably in a better position politically than he was after his 2016 “week from hell.” He is purportedly behind in the national polls again, but the most accurate 2016 poll again shows a closer race than its counterparts, and recent studies suggest his support could be significantly understated due to the shy Trump voter phenomenon. Moreover, the celebratory response of the Democrats and the media to Trump’s illness will almost certainly increase his support. On CNN, in the midst of a tedious discussion about “mixed signals” from the White House, New Yorker staff writer Masha Gessen actually compared Trump’s condition to Stalin’s death:
There have been a lot of comparisons to the Soviet Union in the last couple of days. I think they are not unwarranted. The particular period I am thinking about is something I have written about a lot, which were the days of Stalin’s deathwatch.… When the foreign correspondents and the domestic correspondents, such as they were, all knew what was going on. Nobody was giving them any information.… Everybody was expecting the final call, right? And the planet filled with rumor.”
For CNN to countenance this grotesque caricature of journalism was not merely despicable — it was stupid. It’s difficult to imagine a better way to transform fence-sitting Independents into Trump supporters than to compare the gravely ill President to one of history’s most notorious mass murderers and draw parallels between White House updates on his health and Kremlin propaganda. The disgust it inspires in his loyal supporters is impossible to exaggerate. Americans traditionally rally behind a sick or injured President. After a would-be assassin shot Ronald Reagan in the spring of 1981, for example, his popularity rose dramatically. As the Washington Post reported at the time:
The burst of gunfire that injured President Reagan Monday sparked an instantaneous and sharp rise in his popular standing with the American people, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.… While it is common for a president’s popularity rating to increase at a time of national crisis, the rise for Reagan appears as sharp as any yet recorded. Reagan’s new surge came at a time when the president seemed to be on something of a downward swing in popularity as measured by previous polls.
One of the most poignant findings of that survey, by the way, was this: “Americans overwhelmingly reject the idea that presidents should isolate themselves from the citizenry for safety’s sake.” In other words, though former Vice President Joe Biden has called Trump “totally irresponsible” for holding public rallies, Americans are not temperamentally inclined to admire a President who favors hunkering down inside the White House to remain out of danger. Moreover, as Trump pointed out during his Saturday message from Walter Reed Medical Center, it isn’t possible for any chief executive to carry out his duties as cautiously as Biden has conducted his presidential campaign.
Trump understands that he can’t lead from behind. This is probably the most important difference between the President and our erstwhile VP. The former realizes his age group renders him unambiguously vulnerable to coronavirus complications, yet knows his duty precludes hiding in the White House or even behind a mask. The latter is a hostage of the left, the very creatures who have pronounced themselves delighted that Trump has contracted COVID-19 and openly wish him the worst: Joe Biden is afraid to denounce such vitriol, just as he refuses to denounce domestic terrorist groups such as Antifa. President Trump unequivocally refuses to command from the rear:
I was given that alternative, stay in the White House, lock yourself in, don’t ever leave. Don’t even go to the oval office, just stay upstairs and enjoy it. Don’t see people, don’t talk to people.… This is the United States. This is the greatest country in the world. This is the most powerful country in the world. I can’t be locked up in a room upstairs and totally safe.… We have to confront problems, as a leader, you have to confront problems. There’s never been a great leader that would have done that.
Meanwhile, after denouncing Trump for his public rallies and utilizing in-person canvassing, the Biden campaign has emerged from its Delaware bunker to do both now that he has been hospitalized. They seem to believe that this hypocrisy will go unnoticed by the voters, but it won’t. Nor will it soon be forgotten that Trump hatred reached its creepy crescendo when the man became gravely ill. Trump may be released from Walter Reed as early as Monday, but the weekend has provided enough time for the Democrats, their friends in the media and their Potemkin presidential candidate to demonstrate just how depraved they really are. It isn’t pretty and it will get Trump reelected.