Richard Wolffe in The Guardian:
A veil of solemnity descends upon the land at times like this, when elected officials or public figures get sick or die. We wish them speedy recovery, or extend sympathies, as we should. We ignore their faults and failings, as we would want our own ignored. These are the norms of politics and public life. Established norms, like behaving with dignity and self-restraint in a presidential debate, or condemning racist terrorists and murderers. For the record, we should all wish Donald and Melania Trump a full and speedy recovery. But that does not answer the fundamental question this president will leave behind when he leaves office. What norms survive a man who takes pleasure in destroying norms?
First, let’s place the current norms in context. Concern for a person’s health – or respect for their death – should not suppress an honest discussion about their own conduct. You can’t ignore a smoker’s choices as you lament their lung cancer. And we can’t ignore the president’s choices in a pandemic, even as we wish for his recovery from Covid-19. From the beginning, Trump has been wrong about almost everything to do with the coronavirus. Even as he knew about the pandemic’s dangers, his policy choices were recklessly, dumbfoundingly, disastrously wrong. At every turn.
The pandemic didn’t disappear like a miracle, or with the summer. It couldn’t be treated with an injection of disinfectant or bright light. It wasn’t halted by banning some air passengers (but not all) from China. Testing, tracing and mask-wearing has never been established on a national basis to stop the national spread of the disease. For months, Trump claimed that cases were only rising because testing was rising. So now he knows, as he has all along, that his own case exists regardless of testing. Which brings us to the most damaging impact of all, beyond the physical damage to the body of a 74-year-old man who makes mysterious trips to hospital. Trump’s infection with Covid-19 destroys what’s left of his credibility as someone who can lead a nation through the pandemic. If he can’t protect himself, how on earth can he protect American citizens?