I’ve been trying to imagine the tables being turned and that it’s Joe Biden, not Donald Trump who’s afflicted with Covid-19.
What would Mr Trump, his re-election campaign and his Republican Party do?
With sad resignation, it’s probably safe to say they wouldn’t, as Mr Biden has done, pull television attack ads. They wouldn’t stay clear of schadenfreude and order staffers to desist as well. They wouldn’t send apparently sincere good wishes to the afflicted man and his wife. And they wouldn’t speak soberly about praying for the Biden family.
It’s probably also likely that Mr Trump and his coterie wouldn’t use a hypothetical Biden affliction as a teachable moment. They wouldn’t, as Mr Biden is doing, point out that anyone can get coronavirus and it’s important to observe the simple rules that help keep everyone safe until a vaccine becomes available.
Remember, this? Hours before he announced his own coronavirus diagnosis, Mr Trump claimed, in a speech recorded for the annual Al Smith Dinner for Catholic charities, that “the end of the pandemic is in sight, and next year will be one of the greatest years in the history of our country.”
And as the US coronavirus death toll neared 200,000, Mr Trump declared at a rally in Ohio that the virus “affects virtually nobody. It’s an amazing thing.”
Had Mr Biden been infected by the virus, the Trump camp would probably continue to mock Mr Biden’s mask-wearing. It ‘couldn’t keep him safe’, they might harrumph. On September 29, Mr Trump mocked Mr Biden for taking care to wear a mask at public events: “I don’t wear a mask like him,” he said during the unpresidential non-debate in Cleveland. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking two hundred feet away, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
The Trump camp would probably bray about the nonsense of observing so-called “covid-secure” protocols such as socially distanced meetings and small campaign events, as laid on by Mr Biden’s team since the pandemic hit. ‘Staying in his basement’ didn’t help him, they might chorus.
And finally, they would probably use a hypothetical Biden illness as another cruel jibe at the Democratic presidential challenger’s age and feebleness. Not macho, like Mr Trump.
Of course, all of the above could still happen. The coronavirus respects no boundaries and sometimes, precautions too are not enough. It is entirely conceivable that Mr Trump will recover well – and everyone must fervently hope he does, as well as all the others who suffer from Covid-19. And no can deny that Mr Biden, who at 77 is three years older than Mr Trump, is in a high-risk category. So, God forbid, if Mr Biden too were to be affected by the coronavirus, the hypothetical Trump campaign reaction sketched out above may come hideously into play. One can only hope none of this comes to pass.