President Donald Trump has tested positive for the coronavirus. As has former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, former senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, and Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, among other officials.
This is bad — for Trump, but also for his efforts to remain in the White House past 2020. The White House’s handling of Trump’s diagnosis has been shambolic, with staffers and household staff left unaware of their own contacts with the disease. Many conservatives, including supporters of the president, have recognized this.
But what is objectively true does not always make political hay — especially with the election mere weeks away, millions of votes already cast, and Trump currently behind former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls in multiple battleground states.
Trump’s allies and supporters in conservative media are hunting desperately for a narrative that will make this clearly, objectively, obviously bad news seem less bad.
They’ve found two main lines of attack: One argues Trump’s diagnosis and what they see as an inevitable rapid recovery will prove once and for all that the Covid-19 pandemic has been massively overblown.
The other argues Trump’s diagnosis will benefit the president politically, no matter his current health status. Perhaps he’ll gain a “sympathy vote,” or maybe he’ll better understand the disease. That’s what one Trump campaign spokesperson said on Fox News on Monday, arguing that Trump now has firsthand experience with the disease (and Joe Biden does not).
These are not good-faith arguments. These would not be the arguments being made by supporters and allies of President Trump if Joe Biden were
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