After Donald Trump got out of Vietnam with student deferments and a spurious claim of bone spurs, he proposed that those who did serve in Vietnam were “stupid” and “losers,” according to various accounts. He mocked their sacrifice by saying he was a “brave soldier” in his “personal Vietnam” — avoiding sexually transmitted diseases.

We’re seeing the same thinking now with covid-19. After getting treated for his infection by a team of top-notch doctors using antidotes that are rationed or entirely unavailable to other Americans, President Trump shared a description of himself as “an invincible hero” — in contrast to all those wusses who are taking precautions against the virus.

“Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it,” Trump proclaimed in a video message Monday night after returning from the hospital. “Don’t let it take over your lives. … I’m better and maybe I’m immune. I don’t know. But don’t let it dominate your lives.” Tuesday morning, he exulted anew on Twitter that “we are learning to live with Covid,” which he falsely claimed is “in most populations far less lethal” than the flu.

“FEELING GREAT!” he added.

It was an implicit rebuke of those 210,000 Americans who already let the beatable and less-lethal virus “dominate” them and “take over” — by dying. On the four days in which Trump spent time in the hospital, 2,264 Americans died of covid-19 without access to the care and treatments he got — the modern equivalent of those stupid losers who died in Vietnam while Trump bravely dodged the clap.

On Sunday, as Trump was joyriding around Walter Reed with his captive Secret Service detail, a group memorialized the pandemic dead by setting up 20,000 empty chairs, symbolizing 200,000 lives, on the Ellipse, facing the White House. As Trump staged photos at Walter Reed, the Twitter account @FacesOfCovid continued its grim work of collating obituaries of the deceased:

On Monday night, as Trump was filming his video (without a mask) telling Americans not to let the virus dominate their lives, the West Des Moines (Iowa) Community School District announced that Jennifer Crawford, a junior high school special-education assistant, had died of covid-19 complications.

On Sunday, Julie Davis, a beloved third-grade teacher at Norwood Elementary School in North Carolina, succumbed to the virus. Davis, 49, died two months after the district resumed some in-person classes. She decided to devote her life to helping children after the Columbine shooting.

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On Friday, as Trump checked in to Walter Reed, John Stephen Forester, 72, of McKenzie, Tenn., died of the virus. He had helped adults with developmental disabilities and was a longtime volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels. The death notice said his family is “heartbroken at his sudden and preventable loss.”

Also Friday, Susanne Michael, a teacher at Harrisburg Elementary in Arkansas, died of covid-19. Her husband, whom she met at Williams Baptist College, was allowed to hold her hand for her final 10 minutes. She had recently adopted one of her students, who was bound for foster care, and the student’s two siblings. She leaves behind five children.

The same day, in Highland Village, Tex., Sgt. Dennis Oliver died of covid-19 after some 11 days in the hospital. The 17-year veteran of the Highland Village Police Department leaves behind a wife and two sons.

On Thursday, when Trump was keeping his positive coronavirus test secret, Olga Quiroga, a bilingual first-grade teacher in Chicago Public Schools, died of the virus, a day short of her 58th birthday. The symptoms started “after a series of trips” to her elementary school, including a back-to-school event.

Earlier last week, as the virus spread around the White House, WOOD-TV in Michigan reported the covid-19 death of Michelle McCrackin, 53, a Title I teacher in Carson City and mother of five. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, Rebecca A. Cryer, a 73-year-old judge on the Choctaw Nation District Court, also died of covid-19. She had survived serious injuries in the Oklahoma City bombing 25 years ago.

And on. And on. Young and old, hearty and frail. So many people who, unlike our “invincible hero” president, inexplicably let the virus “dominate” their lives.

Now the White House Gift Shop is taking preorders for $100 commemorative coins announcing “PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP DEFEATS COVID.” The company, which calls itself the “original official” White House gift shop, was privatized long ago. But it has pro-Trump sentiments, saying the coin design conveys “a hint of superhero qualities.”

If we’re really going to commemorate this moment, other slogans come to mind. Perhaps: PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP DEFEATS EMPATHY.

Or, if we’re trying to lend a “hint of superhero qualities” to a president who tells us to live with the virus while he receives care unavailable to ordinary losers, I’d go with this:


The briefings on President Trump's health are a deliberate exercise in obfuscation, says physician and Post contributing columnist Leana S. Wen. (The Washington Post)

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