Trump may be infected but he still wants us know who’s in charge

After some seriously mixed messaging on Donald Trump’s health, Sunday brought another optimistic message from his doctors – not only was he on the mend, but he might be out by as early as today.

But that rosy outlook though was also coupled with some concerning revelations that highlighted the president was sicker than first disclosed and was taking medication usually reserved for severe cases of COVID-19.

Not only did we learn he required supplemental oxygen twice, but he was taking dexamethasone too, a drug typically not used in mild or moderate cases.

Nonetheless, the medical team at Walter Reed hospital insisted President Trump was doing better. And they went a lot further than the day before, pinning themselves to a possible discharge date.

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What was surprising about that was they had previously said seven to 10 days would be critical. If the president leaves today, by current accounting, that takes us only to day five or six. It did leave some wondering what pressure the medical team might be under.

The fact Dr Sean Conley has admitted his positive words on Saturday (rapidly contradicted) were in part to help keep the president’s spirits up, didn’t help instil confidence or trust in his updates.

The hospital and the White House though are dealing with a patient who demands total control over how he’s portrayed and clearly wants to reassure the public he’ll back back to the campaign trail as quickly as is humanly possibly.

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He’s said to be furious with his Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, for briefing the press that his vital signs were “very concerning”.

The 24 hours that followed felt like an overt attempt to re-write the record – the president appearing in his own video, suited and booted and working from the hospital.

The eagled-eyed on Twitter soon spotted him signing a black piece of paper.

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The US president thanks supporters outside the military hospital near Washington DC where he is being treated for COVID-19.

As for the drive-by parade in the middle of a pandemic in a packed car… well that was just vintage Trump.

It was also, according to one doctor working in the hospital, “putting lives at risk for theatre”.

But theatrics are Trump’s modus operandi. He may be infected, but he wants us all to know he’s still in charge.

And his team will no doubt be under a crippling workload to make sure that while he’s starved of making big bangs on the campaign trial, his followers will still be treated to some fireworks.

If this weekend is anything to go by, expect more of the president portraying himself not as a victim, but a student of COVID-19, who’s learned a lot and can show the rest of us the path forward.

We will have to see how voters feel about that. It feels far too early to assume any particular impact on his political fortunes.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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