Reality Doesn’t Always Follow The Script

6 mins read

Trump has COVID, and the Trump-FOX-GOP has an existential problem.

The strongman myth requires a strongman. COVID was supposed to cull the weak, who would die willingly to save the “economy” for everyone else. 

  • Q: What do you do when the leader himself is stricken with COVID? 
  • A: Embellish the myth to keep him looking strong.

Here’s an example:

The idea here is that the only way a strongman can fall sick with COVID is if he is the victim of a nefarious plot. He isn’t weak! He’a a victim!

Fascism / leadership cult (what Weber calls charismatic leader source of authority) depends on myth. They’re not going to let facts get in their way.

In this evening’s episode of the Trump Reality Show: Trump has COVID but he is mighty and strong! The White House released pictures of him “working” in his hospital suite. 

People zoomed in and saw that he appeared to be signing his name to a blank piece of paper:

In another photo, we see the same paper before he wrote on it. So you see, unlike lesser mortals, the Great Leader ignores his symptoms and continues working by signing his name to blank papers while posing for cameras.

Upon his release from the hospital, Trump continuing posturing as a strongman. It didn’t work. While standing in front of the White House last night to pose for the cameras, he was wheezing for breath. This morning he tweeted this:

Telling people to “live with it” when 210,000 people have died and are still dying (when most people can’t be flown by helicopter to a top hospital at the first sign of infection and given around-the-clock treatment) was beyond absurd. Here Gingrich gets into the “make Trump into a strongman” act:

There’s an obvious reason the Team Trump needs to minimize Trump’s illness: Voting has started, election day is a month away, Trump is down in the polls, he doesn’t have much time to turn this around–and he isn’t likely to do so from a hospital room. 

But their bigger problem is the way the right-wing has been looking at COVID.

This thread from last April by Austrian scholar Natascha Strobl explains why the Trump campaign and the GOP is facing an existential crisis.

Strobl studies extreme right wing sites from all over the world, and explained their approach to COVID, and why they prefer herd immunity.

Right wing extremists (also known as fascist) despise the weak, the unmanly, and the soft. The idea is that “men are not men anymore, by nervous, urban, over intellectualized” sickly weaklings.

Weakness is never worthy of protection and has to be cast out. The weak “pulled the short straw” and should carry their burden with dignity.  Right wingers claim that should they fall sick with the virus, they will look death calmly in the eye.

That’s what Chris Christie was getting at last May when he said this:

Chris Christie is also sick, and he, too, is lying:

People don’t check themselves in as if a hospital is a Holiday Inn. A doctor admits them for a reason. (Of course, he could be trying to drive home the point that there is health care for ordinary people who are lucky enough to have health care and health care for those who are well connected. Imagine how many lives could have been saved if anyone feeling a little achy checked into a hospital as a precautionary measure.)

Strobl points out the overlap between herd immunity, the Fox-Trump-GOP idea that the weak should willingly die for the economy, and racial eugenics and anti-semitism. Now Trump and GOP leadership is getting sick. 

See where I’m going with this?

The GOP was cool with it when stats showed that the virus disproportionally affected minority communities. I assumed that the Fox-Trump-GOP protected themselves and their own families while encouraging OTHERS to die for the economy. 

Maybe not:

Fifteen-year-old Claudia Conway has been blasting her mother Kellyanne for recklessly endangering the family. 

Strobl explains that we’d expect the right-wing to want to protect their own, but they don’t:

They view COVID as the great sorter: The weak will succumb. The strong can fight it off and thrive. Now Trump is sick with this particular disease, along with a rapidly growing list of GOP leaders and White House advisors. Reality doesn’t always follow the script.

Photo by Edward Hooper on Unsplash

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Teri has written novels, short stories, nonfiction for both young readers and adults, and lots of legal briefs. She is currently working on a book on disinformation to be published by Macmillan Publishers. Her political commentary has appeared on the NBC Think Blog and Her articles and essays have appeared in publications as diverse as Education Week, Slate Magazine, and Scope Magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in the American Literary View, The Iowa Review, and others. For twelve years she maintained a private appellate law practice limited to representing indigents on appeal from adverse rulings. She believes with the ACLU that when the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled. She also believe with John Updike that the purpose of literature is to expand our sympathies. Teri lives with her family on the beautiful central coast in California.

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