Perhaps before we get into a few headlines and snippets of news, we should take a pause.
A deep, deep breath. Inhale..
If you thought the high speed railway of 2020 news would slow, you were mistaken. It turned into a monster freight train running of its tracks in some macabre October surprise, thanks to the coronavirus.
News headlines blazed around the global last night when President Donald Trump revealed that he and First Lady Melania had tested positive for COVID-19. As did the head of the Republican Party.. as did a Senator. As did Hope Hicks. As a matter of fact, the outbreak at the White House has been so fast and free that a Axios established a constantly updated page called Trump Coronavirus Tracker.
This is how the AP branded the breaking October surprise story:
News that the world’s most powerful man was infected with the world’s most notorious disease drew instant reactions of shock, sympathy, undisguised glee and, of course, the ever-present outrage and curiosity surrounding everything about President Donald Trump.
Trump’s announcement Friday, on Twitter, that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, and the deep uncertainty that accompanied it, flashed across screens large and small, upending countless plans and sparking comment everywhere from presidential offices to the thousands looking to weigh in on social media.
The positive test reading for the leader of the world’s largest economy adds more uncertainty to investors’ worries, especially about its effect on the Nov. 3 election between the Republican president and Democrat Joe Biden. U.S. stock futures and most world markets fell on the news as did the price of oil.
CRICKETS AND DRAMA
The silence was deafening from the White House for most of Friday. Speculation was rampant about Joe Biden, who got tested twice today and is reportedly negative. Also rumors abounded about Mike Pence, who also reportedly is negative for COVID..
But how as the President himself doing? Things seemed sketchy and mysterious.
The White House initially said the president had mild symtoms. But the time Larry Kudlow was on cable news today, he said it was ‘moderate’ .. The First Lady Tweeted she was doing fine.
But there was nothing from the President.
Finally near the evening hour–after the stock market closed for Friday–news swiftly spread that the President was experiencing a fever.. he had a cough.. he was fatigued.. Also reported: He was given a cocktail of drugs to try warding off effects of the virus.
By 5pm tonight, breaking news alerts across the world and social media declined into madness when it was announced that Donald Trump was being taken to Walter Reed Medical Center.. potentially for days..
In the midst of the media mania, White House official Alyssa Farah says power has not been transferred to Vice President Pence.
“The President is in charge,” she said, adding she is not aware of any additional coronavirus cases.
x x x
The President is in charge. Let that statement sink in.. dwell on those words to consider just what state of affairs, and what a nail biter of a moment we are in .. American history textbooks will undoubtedly speak of this year. But they will also capture this very day. This day that we all have lived through..
The path that this event takes next will be left to a higher power or natural fate. The future of American Democracy will be left to those who live in this Democratic Republic.
The world is watching..
And all we want to do is close our eyes.
There is some comfort in remembering that we have been here before (kind of) .. while no two or three events are comparable and all are unique, there is some precedent for what we are living through.
During Johnson’s last months in office, the President was hospitalized with the flu at the Bethesda Naval Hospital.
The media then, unlike today’s feeding frenzy, did not cover the event in the same manner that you’d expect.. They called Johnson’s battle with the pandemic a the “sniffles.” Doctors said he should simply rest.
And this may ring a bell: The White House called it a chest cold and low grade fever… Meanwhile, this was the state of affairs for the President with “sniffles:”
Back during the famous Spanish Flu (that we have often written about on this site) another United States President would acquire a pandemic. Woodrow Wilson began to feel ill on April 3, 1919. He got a fever, was unable to move, and went to bed.
He had contracted the Spanish flu, so bad that the President’s physician wrote confidentially to the White House, and it had made Wilson “violently sick.”
Wilson was in Paris for the treaty negotiations following the end of the First World War. It was at this even that he became ill. At that very decisive moment in global history.
Wilson recovered from the influenza, but suffered a severe stroke six months later, and was incapacitated through the remainder of his Presidency.. Some speculate that the Spanish Flu led to his death due to a body ravaged by that virulent pandemic.
But Wilson’s name is uniquely absent from virtually all historic stories about the Spanish Flu. He did not address it in public at all, nothing. Never. He had no time for the pandemic that was destroying the lives of so many around the United States–and they were having mask debates and school closings just like today. Instead he focused on the war.. and finally his unspoken words came back to harm his gravely..
And some other honorable mentions in history:
Dwight Eisinhower had heart issues and a heart attack. The nation at that time rallied around the guy they liked, Ike.
William Henry Harrison was only 32 days into his term as the ninth president of the United States when he became the first president to die in office. People blame his 2 hour long Inauguration Speech as to how he contracted either Typhoid fever or pneumonia.
Zachary Taylor died just 16 months after being sworn in as the 12th president of the United States. On July 4, 1950, Taylor had attended Fourth of July festivities on a scorching day in Washington, D.C., then returned to the White House where he ate cherries and drank iced milk and water. That night, he fell ill with stomach cramps that were diagnosed as cholera.
In 1923, Warren Harding died of a heart attack.
In 1945, beloved longtermed president Franklin Roosevelt died of a stroke.
Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.
John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
And Ronald Reagan spent days in the hospital and almost died (we did not get told that then however) .. but survived and gained incredible fame as the Teflon Gipper when he made the joke, “Honey I forgot to duck.”
William McKinley was shot, and was initally reported to be recovering. And in good spirits.
James Garfield was shot in 1881. A long vigil began, and Garfield’s doctors issued regular bulletins that the American public followed closely throughout the summer of 1881.. His condition fluctuated; fevers came and went, he struggled to keep down solid food, and he spent most of the summer eating only liquids.
x x x
So exhale now.
We have been through worse before..
And we may be through worse in the future again.
Time is never on our side.
And we’ve said this for years: No one ever said it was fun living through history.
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