Donald Trump surprised the world today by wearing a face mask in public for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began spiraling out of control in the United States.
The occasion for this event — which would normally seem to be something that any sensible adult could figure out to do without prompting from countless health officials — was a trip to visit wounded armed forces members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland directly after the president’s customary visit to one of his golf resorts.
The visit would normally be hardly notable except as a staple photo op for a president who has seen his popularity in military circles drop precipitously after the revelations that Trump ignored briefings about a Kremlin bounty to the Taliban for every U.S. soldier in Afghanistan that they killed.
The fact that Trump finally allowed himself to be seen in public wearing a face mask while visiting the hospitalized troops, however, wound up overshadowing any potential messaging about the president’s deep concern for the health and well-being of American armed forces that he may have wished to convey.
Instead, every article about the visit focused almost exclusively on speculation on what could have suddenly transformed Trump’s opinion on the advisability of wearing a face covering while in public spaces during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Appropriate for the racially dubious notion of categorizing the characters of the heroes and villains of a given conflict by the color of their head colorings, Trump was wearing a black mask, a color that usually indicates in film iconography that its wearer is among the bad guys in the story.
For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, President Trump has been seen by the White House press corps wearing a mask. Today, he's sporting the face covering while visiting wounded troops at Walter Reed Medical Center. pic.twitter.com/shJXuzYhis
— Jason Hoffman (@JasonHoffman93) July 11, 2020
With the United States facing new record-high numbers of cases of COVID-19 on an almost daily basis, it appears as if the free fall in Trump’s polling numbers has finally overcome any reluctance he may have had at appearing “weak” or “impotent” by wearing a protective face covering.
He needn’t have worried.
The photos of the president and his entourage strolling down the hallways of Walter Reed resemble nothing less than a group of what Trump himself would call “bad hombres” marching off to loot and pillage whatever crossed their paths, most likely the U.S. Treasury.
Still, the fact that Trump was likely starting to finally pay attention to political advisors — who realize that the worsening pandemic and its likely economic consequences would make Trump’s re-election a non-starter if he continued to be perceived as exacerbating the extent of the death toll — means that he may finally stop living in a fantasy world where the coronavirus will magically disappear without any further sacrifices on the part of himself and the rest of the American people.
The best part of the president’s decision to begin allowing himself to be seen wearing a mask, however, is the fact that the face-covering obscures so much of that ugly fake-tanned mug.
Can he please start wearing a face mask that covers his entire head, including that orange mop he wears on top of his skull?
Much of the public would be so happy to avoid seeing that horrifying visage, and surely the Secret Service would appreciate the ability to substitute a convincing body double for Trump at the appropriately dangerous occasion.
Just a suggestion.
Reaction to the change on social media was best exemplified by this tweet which asked the most salient questions about the president’s sudden change of behavior.
How often will the president wear a face mask in public?
Why did he wait 5 months to wear a face mask in public?
Does he support the science behind the use of face masks or is this just for show to placate certain sections of the news media and his base?
Some questions to ask. https://t.co/ZcJflFrfNj
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 11, 2020
As of press time, the American public is still waiting for answers.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.