Why I feel solidarity with Donald Trump (It’s not what you think)

The president and I, despite our great disagreements, belong to an unofficial club of obese men over 70. I wouldn’t wish COVID on anybody in that club.

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President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up from a White House balcony after returning from the hospital on Monday.

AP Photos

I don’t agree with Donald Trump on politics and a lot of things. But, these past few days, I’ve been feeling a kinship with the president since he announced that he has Covid-19.

He’s only three years older than I am, and his Body Mass Index is just about the same as mine — we’re both obese. We’re both men. Those three facts put us in the danger zone among the American population.

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For the past seven months, I’ve successfully dodged Covid, essentially by hiding out and hunkering down. Of course, I don’t have a nation that’s dependent on me.

From what I’ve heard, the president has been protected in myriad ways from coming into contact with anyone with the disease, such as heavy-duty testing of those around him. Still, he got it.

OK, yeah, I know he got it because he ignored the precautions and didn’t wear a mask. I know his rallies put many of his supporters in danger of contracting the disease. I know that he’s foolishly saying right now that COVID-19 is no big deal.

But my purpose isn’t to wag a finger at him.

The fact is that I feel bad for him. He’s a human being like me, and this is a challenge he can’t just bluff his way through. One of the many disagreements I have with him is his irresponsibility and refusal to think of consequences. That’s who he is. I play it safe, and that’s helped me avoid COVID. (I also know that, for all my precautions, I can get this illness, too.)

It seems to me that Trump is approaching this diagnosis as I would. He’s taking the drugs and the treatments that his doctors order, but he’s chomping at the bit to bounce back to normal. His return to the White House on Monday was, I suspect, an example of that.

I’m certain that’s how I’d be tempted to act if I got COVID. I’ve had two knee replacements, and, each time, I pushed myself to get out of bed and walk down the corridor as requested by hospital staff. I pushed myself to do the needed exercises and take the needed physical therapy. I wanted to get back to normal as fast as possible, regardless of the pain I was feeling from the healing of the wound.

I’m pretty sure that’s what the president is feeling. And it’s not just a question of getting back to normal. It’s also about getting back on the campaign trail for an election that is less than a month away.

Yes, you can argue that he’s being reckless. But I know that, if I were in Trump’s place, I’d be trying to get better by an act of will. And I’m sure I’d try to overdo things. I wouldn’t take the rest I’d need, and I’d stretch my strength way too far. I’d end up, I’m afraid, with a relapse, maybe sicker than I’d been the first time around.

Of course, unlike the president, I don’t have battalions of doctors and advisers to point out to me the right course of recovery to follow. But, even if I had everyone telling me what I needed to do, I’d be tempted to go my own way. (Just ask my wife.)

The president and I — despite our great and wide disagreements — belong to an unofficial club of obese men over 70. I wouldn’t wish COVID on anybody in that club.

But there are guys, like Trump, who have gotten it. Some have died.

I want him to get better. I am hoping for a healthy, rested president to get back into the campaign soon — but not sooner than is prudent.

My point is that I’d like to see a healthy, rested president lose this election. But not his health or his life.

Patrick T. Reardon is the author of nine books, including ‘The Loop: The “L” Tracks That Shaped and Saved Chicago,’ coming in November from Southern Illinois University Press.

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