October 5, 2020. Mark it down as the day Donald Trump officially lost his bid for re-election.
That was the day he was released after three days from Walter Reed hospital after being treated for Covid-19. Upon his return to the White House he defiantly removed his mask, stood on the balcony before the press for a Mussolini-like photo-opp and then released a video urging Americans “don’t be afraid of it”, saying he “felt better than 20 years ago” and “don’t let it dominate your lives”.
But he could’ve said this instead:
“I want to apologize to the American people. I’m truly sorry I did not take Covid-19 as seriously as I should have. That I did not provide the absolute best leadership as we battled this deadly virus this year. I make no excuses. You deserved more from your president, and I feel like I’ve let you down.
Today I was released from the hospital after spending 3 days after testing positive for the virus. Let me tell you…I was pretty sick. My body…my lungs…were attacked. I was scared and not sure I’d make it. But I learned something those three days. Something that’s changed me profoundly.
The first is that this virus plays no favorites. It mercilessly attacks Democrats and Republicans alike. It doesn’t care if you live in a city or on a farm. Or if you’re rich, poor, old, young, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, male or female. It’ll kill you no matter who you are. Even if you’re the United States president.
I learned that I am very lucky, and in a very unique position, to have received the absolute best, most progressive care possible. From the doctors to the therapeutics. But mostly I learned that most of you don’t have that kind of care and access to experimental drugs and treatments. And that’s something we must immediately make available for all Americans.
Lastly, and most importantly, I learned that it’s not too late to wage a new war against this deadly beast. That with mask-wearing and proper distancing…with bigger, better, faster testing and contact-tracing…by acting together as one nation of people…we can identify and contain the virus and eventually kill it off. And that we can save tens of thousands or more precious lives in the process.
I urge you to join this stepped up fight with me now. Together we can and will defeat this pandemic and see a return to the lives we cherished before. Thank you and may God bless you, God bless our troops and God bless America…”
Just imagine if Trump had given that speech in prime time to a frightened, frustrated electorate starving for a presidential pivot on the virus. Would it have had any material impact on Democrats who’ve held him responsible for the death of 240,000? Probably not. But it certainly would have appreciably moved the needle for myriad moderate Republicans and independents…enough to absolutely shift the outcome of the election and return him to the Oval Office for another four years.