Opinion | Defiant, Now Infected: Trump Is a Morality Tale

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That culture was on flabbergasting display during those evening briefings the president used to do, the ones devoted primarily to congratulating himself and his administration on their fantabulous job battling the pandemic. They battled it all the way to America’s exceptional status as the world leader in recorded cases of, and deaths associated with, the coronavirus.

That culture was evident in the rallies that the president arranged and insisted on doing over recent weeks. That culture persisted on Thursday, when, according to an article by Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman in The Times, Kayleigh McEnany, maskless, held a briefing with reporters after Hicks’s infection with the virus was confirmed and after McEnany was on a plane with her and exposed to her.

I read that and I winced and I gasped — and then wondered why in the world I was wincing and gasping when it was par for the course. It was business as usual. It was an explanation for why we are where we are as a country and why Trump is where he is as a president and a patient.

Trump had been around Hicks in the days leading up to her diagnosis and, like McEnany, mingled with other people after it. He flew to his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., on Thursday afternoon for a fund-raising event, where, according to The Times, he “addressed hundreds of supporters both outdoors and indoors.” He did not wear a mask.

Even some White House officials were reportedly baffled and bothered by that, both retrospectively and in real time. They privately marveled at the denialism of it all.

But then the reality-show president has long been determined to live outside reality and was seemingly convinced that he could. I was half convinced myself. He jettisoned truth without consequences. He sailed above the laws of cause and effect when it came to paying taxes, paying off Stormy Daniels, strong-arming the president of Ukraine, playing footsie with the president of Russia and so much more.

But reality is reality. Truth is truth. Science is science, and it alerted all of us — including the president — to the danger of the coronavirus, how it spreads and what we can and should do to protect ourselves and others. There’s no getting around those facts.

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