Trump Has COVID-19, Stocks Fall
In an after-midnight tweet last night, President Trump announced that he and the first lady have contracted the coronavirus. And oh boy, get ready to hear about it over and over and over ad nauseam.
Get ready for a landslide of questions:
When exactly did President Trump learn he had coronavirus? How long did he wait to tell the public? What responsibility does the president have in reporting personal health issues to the public? Etc, etc.
Get ready for vitriol on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Get ready for emotional, off-the-cuff, insensitive comments from liberal politicians — and their following apologies.
Oh, and get ready for a flourishing of conspiracy theories. I can't wait for those. They'll be good:
The Democrats poisoned him. He got COVID from hanging out with Jeffrey Epstein's ghost. He got it because the Chinese have figured out how to weaponize and transmit the virus via satellite. He got it from the drinking water. The sky people and the lizard people put coronavirus in the drinking water. Can't you see that, folks, it's always been the sky people and the lizard people!!!... And probably the reverse vampires.
Nevertheless, this is a serious issue. The president of the United States can't really be sick — or more precisely, the president can't appear to be sick or in poor health in any way.
Fact is, there is a long history of presidents hiding illnesses of various types. FDR hid the paralysis of both his legs on the campaign trail. Reagan struggled constantly with poor health, experiencing urinary tract infections, prostate stones, temporomandibular joint disease (TMJ), and prostate and skin cancer during his presidency.
The president of the United States must appear strong. America has enemies that are always seeking to exploit any kind of weakness. And these enemies will see a president's poor health as a weakness.
So it may actually be in the country's best interest for Trump to step down and let Pence take over.
But stepping down now might also be in Donald Trump's best interest.
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See, if Trump resigns in the right way now, his final act as POTUS could forever be seen as a sacrifice for the country. He could admit that an ill leader is a less effective leader and that stepping down is what's best for the country. That could change his legacy forever. The final chapter in Trump's book could end on a high note.
But I really doubt he's going to do that.
Better for Trump and maybe the country, however, is if he very quickly gets over the coronavirus. That would make him appear even stronger. Imagine this tweet:
Global markets were roiled by news. Dow futures fell 445 points (1.6%) after Trump tweeted his condition. Meanwhile, S&P 500 futures fell 1.7% and Nasdaq futures dropped 2.3%.
European markets also fell on the news. London's FTSE 100 dropped 1%, while the CAC 40 took off 2% in France. Stocks in Asia and Australia also saw declines. The Nikkei 225 closed down 0.7%, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 1.4%. Markets in Hong Kong, mainland China, and South Korea are closed for public holidays.
The diagnosis will no doubt raise questions about the election. And we expect to see a brief surge in safe-haven assets as a result.
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