Trump defies Covid: Recklessness or strength?

Shortly after returning to the White House from hospital, US President Donald Trump removed his mask to pose for cameras. He also sent a message on Twitter telling people: "Don't be afraid of Covid". The virus is now spreading among members of his staff. The president's behaviour continues to fuel controversy.

Open/close all quotes
Deutsche Welle (RO) /

A president must not show weakness

Deutsche Welle's Romanian service defends Trump's White House appearance:

“The main mission of a head of state is to guarantee the security of his country and thus fend off any attack or direct or hybrid aggression. Nothing is better for this purpose than if the head of state conveys the impression of strength, energy and power to the outside world. And nothing is more dangerous than a weak-willed leader who appears to be close to death, weak or frightened. The impression of weakness or fear would be an enormous encouragement to the enemies.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Alone at the helm

La Stampa columnist Gianni Riotta is reminded of Hollywood:

“President Donald Trump's favourite film is Patton, from 1970, with George Scott in the lead role of General Patton, unbeatable in battle, a megalomaniac in daily life. ... The scene on Monday evening with the President returning from hospital while still suffering from Covid, sending off the helicopter from the balcony of the White House with a military salute and removing his face mask, ready for battle, makes clear why Trump loves the film. ... Every movement, every facial expression, every look and posture is inspired by Patton-Scott, and the political message for the November 3rd election is clear, like a command from the old general: carry on. ... The ship America sails on, without officers, without a crew, at the helm only President Trump, the only one who knows the way: Forward.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Trump's triumphalism could backfire

The president's triumphal posturing could rub many people the wrong way, NRC Handelsblad believes:

“According to an Ipsos poll from Sunday, two-thirds of Americans think that Trump's own carelessness is to blame for his infection. Three-quarters of the respondents are concerned about the pandemic, and more than half criticize Trump's handling of the crisis. ... Relatives of Americans who have died of Covid-19 have stressed on TV in recent days that their loved ones received significantly worse care than the president. Such sentiments could make it risky for the president to get back on the campaign trail in a hurry.”

The Spectator (GB) /

Hysterical reaction of Trump's opponents

The Spectator doesn't like the left-liberal US media's angle on the way Trump is handling his coronavirus infection:

“To judge from the media's reaction, however, you'd think he was running around spitting on the elderly. Again on CNN Jim Acosta said, 'This is not just the President returning to the White House. This may be patient zero. This is the virus coming back to the White House.' Patient zero? Perhaps, just perhaps, these commentators aren't really that worried about the virus. Perhaps, just perhaps, they are concerned that Trump's re-election hopes might not have been extinguished by his infection. That raises another question: who is really insane?”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

A little more composure would be good

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung criticizes all the conjecturing about Trump's state of health:

“What is the point of such speculation? Is it simply to humiliate the president by putting the lie to his vain posturing and showing just how weak he is? ... His illness does not in any way endanger the country. Even in the worst case scenario of Trump's death, governance would be guaranteed by the constitution at all times. Vice President Mike Pence would be sworn in as President. And thanks to the president's excellent medical care, that scenario is rather unlikely. ... A little more composure, restraint and humanity would be good for everyone: the patient, his followers, and his critics.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

A speculative spectacle

Dagens Nyheter also disapproves of how the media is covering Trump's illness:

“The whole thing is a speculative spectacle that is more worthy of the autocratic ruler of a banana or vodka republic than a successor to Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. In the Trump era, lies and disinformation have become the norm. Over the weekend online media also pointed to how Trump mocked Hillary Clinton's pneumonia in the last election. At the time people were amazed and upset. Now such inflammatory, hate-filled statements are practically the order of the day, and we're all more or less used to them. The nicest thing one can say is that this is not 100 percent Trump's fault. Nevertheless we can be 100 percent sure that he will not be the one to bring change and inject new oxygen into the US and democracy.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Election campaign goes vaudeville

Trump's motorcade appearance to wave to his fans really takes the biscuit, Cristian Unteanu sighs in Adevărul:

“Much to the chagrin of the world at large, the grand debate in which the candidates are to explain to the US public how they plan to get America out of the profound Covid crisis hardly stands a chance of happening. And if it happens, it will be turned into a very predictable, tabloid scandal in which that improvised car ride will be omnipresent. It is now the number one topic. ... In it's day, the Watergate scandal was a classic political battle. ... Now we live in a different kind of reality and must content ourselves with a vaudeville performance.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

A typical US hero

Trump's illness will give him a boost in the election campaign, Ria Nowosti is convinced:

“US culture loves stories in which lone heroic fighters with difficult characters overcome problems and beat strong enemies despite adverse circumstances. ... The image of the proud, solitary president walking to the helicopter that will take him to the hospital is strong election advertising - at least for US audiences. The hospital video of a pale but determined Trump sitting in a suit and pouring over documents is also an effective visual pattern. It contrasts with the behaviour of Joe Biden, who in effect hardly leaves his house.”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

President needs to be in the spotlight now

For the weekly Tygodnik Powszechny, isolation due to coronavirus could cost Trump his re-election:

“Quarantine could not come at a worse time for Trump. The president is fighting to be re-elected, and was planning to visit potentially crucial states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina where Biden has a lead of 3 to 6 percentage points. Appearances in Florida, where he is only two percentage points behind Biden, would have been particularly important for Trump.”

Blick (CH) /

A nightmare for Biden

This is bad news above all for Trump's challenger Biden, says Blick:

“In this US election campaign marked by personal attacks he must now hold back with criticism - after all, malicious comments against a sick old man are not acceptable. ... Right now this story is definitely diverting attention from all the other scandals. The incredible figure of more than 200,000 coronavirus deaths in the US? The fact that the rate of new infections in the US has not improved in a month? That he [Trump] knew about the danger of coronavirus and deliberately downplayed it? The crazy TV debate last Tuesday? Nobody is talking about any of that anymore. ... If Trump survives the disease he will emerge as the strong survivor. As a fighter who knows what the people are going through.” (HR) /

Trump's poor management has caught up with him

Although he has done his best to ignore the issue during the election campaign, Trump's poor crisis management is now catching up with him, comments

“The responsibility of President Trump, who downplayed the danger of the disease until the day he caught it himself, who encouraged citizens to behave irresponsibly, who insisted that the economy be revived in the middle of the pandemic, who made fun of Joe Biden during Tuesday's debate for wearing a mask in public - this responsibility is something Trump is definitely trying to flee. ... Trump was hoping all along that something would happen that would draw attention to other issues.”

Savon Sanomat (FI) /

Scepticism is warranted

All information about Trump's Covid infection must be subjected to critical scrutiny, Savon Sanomat stresses:

“Recent events could have unforeseeable repercussions on polling results. Trump will get some sympathy, which on the other hand will be diminished by the fact that he himself is partly to blame for his infection. The decisive factor now is how quickly the president recovers. If he's not seriously ill and is back to full strength after his quarantine, he can portray himself as a superman, with Biden looking weak at his side. In this case, however, it's possible that questions would arise about what actually took place. With Trump it's now become normal to view all statements with a healthy dose of scepticism.”