Let me begin by saying that I think that the trouble with politics is that people are expected to lie. There are the small lies where someone body has to agree with the party line, even though everything they’ve said in the past indicates that they don’t. And there are the big lies: “We didn’t take into account the fact that the electorate was marginal when awarding them a billion dollar grant to be spent in any way they see fit!”
How else would it be possible for the Liberals to argue that the budget deficits of the Rudd and Swan years ruined our economy but the much larger budget deficit of next week is saving the economy? Surely someone would be asking them to explain the contradiction were it not for the fact that political parties are expected to lie.
Anyone who’s followed the career of Donald Trump would have to acknowledge that not everything he said is the gospel truth… Or rather they would were it not for the fact that, in politics, you can dispute something which is verifiable as the truth and not be thought of as mentally incompetent or stupid. You know, the whole facts and alternative facts thing…
So we have the rather strange moment where – thanks to Trump taking political lying to a whole new art form – nobody believes anything that he says even though those working for him have to pretend to.
And let me quite clear, if either Trump and Morrison told me that I have ten toes, I’d be taking my shoes and socks off to check that they hadn’t removed one while I was sleeping. However, I find it interesting that many of those who were frustrated by Trump’s supporters calling the whole COVID-19 thing a hoax, are now the ones who suspect that it’s Trump who’s pretending to have it. We now have one thing that both his supporters and his opponents are both prepared to agree on: the existence of a corona virus hoax. They only disagree on the nature of the hoax.
While I certainly wouldn’t put it past Trump to create a fiction that helps him win, I also believe that someone who has refused to wear a mask, insisted on packing people into rallies and mocked social distancing has a better than average chance of contracting the virus.
When faced with two competing ideas, I’ve found it’s useful to apply Occam’s Razor which in simple terms means that when faced with competing explanations, the simpler one is more likely to be correct. For example, is the fact that most of the experts who doubt climate change were employed by the fossil fuel industry because they’re the only ones clever enough to see through the deception perpetuated by scientists who’d rather apply for funding to investigate something fictional, or is it because they have a vested interest in suggesting that there’s nothing wrong with fossil fuels and we should all use as much as possible because coal is good for humanity.
So if I were forced to pick between this being real and something Trump made up, I’d pick the scenario that he has actually been diagnosed with COVID-19 for a few simple Occam’s Razor-like reasons:
- He’s been trying to play down COVID-19 all year, so to now tell people it’s something that can disrupt his election campaign suggests that he might have got it wrong.
- Disappearing for a few days or weeks disrupts his narrative that he’s a strong man and nothing can stop him.
- The fact that Hope Hicks was diagnosed first and then he and Melanie got tested indicates a level of planning that I suspect would be too difficult for Trump as it involves a two-step plan.
- It’s been suggested that the Republicans told him to hide away so that he didn’t have to do any more debates because he lost. Trump never listens to anyone so it’s unlikely he’d believe them about either losing the debate or the necessity of hiding so that he didn’t need to do more.
- This puts COVID-19 front and centre when Trump has been trying to shift the campaign chatter to the economy. While he could theoretically argue that the big drop in markets when he tested positive shows how much he’s needed, that’s not the sort of argument that sways many people. It’s sort of like when your partner turns up late when you’ve been trying to prepare for guests and says, “Wow, look at the mess you’re in. This just shows how important I am!” If they really wanted to impress, it would have been better to have been there.
Whatever the truth, I suspect that I won’t have swayed anyone. The difficulty of politics in the 21st Century is that it’s all so unbelievable that something like QAnon can flourish, the Brexit debacle can lead to one of the people responsible getting elected PM with an increased majority and Tony Abbott being given a job which requires diplomacy. If Trump is pronounced dead, some people will be sure that Deep State got him and others will be sure that this is just his way of avoiding embarrassment.
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