Column

Trump Is Immune — To Ever Facing Any Consequences

I don’t know if we’ve ever witnessed Republicans’ ability to flout the rules as we have these last few weeks

Donald Trump.
Donald Trump.
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Donald Trump keeps saying he’s “immune” and, honestly, I’m starting to believe he’s right. The president’s wild claims about being cured and immune to Covid-19 less than two weeks after being hospitalized with the virus are, obviously, wrong and dangerous — more bombast from a politician who thrives on the lies he tells himself and his supporters. But it’s impossible to watch Trump break rule after rule with little consequence and not start to understand why he’d believe he’s invulnerable to Covid: He’s been “immune” to everything else.

The rules of the powerful have never been the same set that applies to most Americans — we’re not even playing the same game — and Trump has always been a master in eliding responsibility. But I don’t know if we’ve ever witnessed Republicans’ ability to flout the rules as we have these last few weeks.

As Trump holds rallies, refuses to wear a mask, and mocks those that do take Covid seriously, other Americans have gone months without seeing their families or sending their children to school. While grandparents forgo seeing their grandchildren grow up and people work hard to safely limit their exposure to others, Trump and the White House hold superspreaders events in the Rose Garden.

And of course, the president believes that a virus that’s killed over 200,000 Americans has passed him by like a light flu: He has access to the world’s best health care and treatments that he will not have to pay for. That’s a privilege the vast majority of people in this country do not have, and something the president would like to make even harder, if not impossible, to obtain. Most people who contracted Covid didn’t get rushed to top-notch hospitals; they were told to wait until they couldn’t breathe. Care was even being rationed in emergency rooms, a result of the administration’s deadly mishandling of the virus, withholding medical supplies to states, and downplaying the seriousness of Covid.

Another stark example of Trump adhering to his own set of rules: The care the president received for his Covid infection included antibodies manufactured using a cell line derived from an abortion — a practice that the White House has severely restricted. Conservatives and anti-abortion groups have lobbied against the use of fetal cells for years, the GOP platform opposes it, and it’s something the Trump administration has tried to ban. In other words, the treatment the president is bragging about at rallies is one developed using a practice his administration wants to make illegal. (If you thought anti-abortion organizations might have picked up on the hypocrisy, no such luck; they did a collective shrug.)

It’s not just rules around Covid that apply differently to Trump. The average American income tax payment was $15,322 — more than 20 times what the president paid his first year in office. While Republicans rail on about family values, trying to convince the rest of the country that traditional marriage is the “greatest antidote” to poverty and the “foundation of civil society,” they embrace a president accused of sexual abuse by over two dozen women and who was caught giving hush-money payments to a porn star to cover up his affair.

These hypocrisies are not just about the president. Trump’s flagrant refusal to obey rules, norms, and even laws has even made it easier for others in his party to do the same: Republicans are pushing through Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, despite the election being weeks away and the fact the GOP blocked an Obama-era judge from the court for just that reason. And as Republicans stoke fears about election tampering, they participate in it themselves. This week the California GOP was found placing illegal ballot boxes in several counties and recently released videos show conservatives gaming out how to prevent people from voting.

Rule-breaking by the GOP, inspired by Trump, has even become deadly: Republican governors are allowing their citizens to get sick and die rather than implement the common-sense health mandates the rest of the country follows.

All of this malfeasance might feel like a hurdle the country could overcome after the election if this was just about Trump and the GOP. But now institutions meant to be objective are actually rewarding the president’s penchant for breaking the rules. After Trump refused to participate in a virtual debate with Democratic opponent Joe Biden — likely because the format makes it easier for a moderator to enforce debate rules — NBC announced it would give Donald Trump an hour of free airtime during a Miami town hall.

Perhaps the president believes the rules don’t apply to him because they never do.

Feminist author & columnist. Native NYer, pasta enthusiast.

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