Like Lazarus, Trump rose from his hospital bed to declare Covid 'a gift from God' and now he's set for true poll revival
THERE has been a distinctly Biblical feel to the US election this week.
For, lo, Donald "Lazarus" Trump did rise from his bed after three days and declare himself cured from a case of coronavirus that was so (apparently) serious, that son Eric called on the nation to pray for his father.
Once he had risen, and in keeping with the theme, Donald called the pandemic a "gift from God" .
That may have been something of a surprise to the families of the over 210,000 Americans who were not so lucky with their share of the blessing.
Even stranger, Trump’s habit of calling this divine blessing the "Chinese virus" may suggest he holds the Chinese government in rather higher regard than we all suspected.
He may even view them as highly as he does Vladimir Putin.
It’s all been very logic-defying, to the point of encouraging many conspiracy theories as to the seriousness of Trump’s condition, his clear gasping for air notwithstanding.
But this rise from his potential death bed has injected further melodrama into his presidential campaign.
And if there’s anything he thrives on, it’s melodrama.
As the throngs rejoiced, there may be some amongst their number who may take his promise of a "free cure" for all seriously – that by distributing a drug which is so far unlicensed and is the subject of legal patent challenges, he can defeat the pandemic.
Alongside a "bleach out to help out" campaign perhaps.
The same audience used to buy the concept of The Wall in just the same way – and actual delivery is not really the point of Trump’s campaign.
For him, it’s not "come feel the quality" of his promises, it’s "come feel the noise".
So, it's best to view this week’s medical soap opera as another example of how Trump is playing a totally different game to his rival, Joe Biden.
Literally, as well as figuratively, he is the colourful one in this debate, while Joe Biden is the experienced, guarded politician.
And Trump is gambling on "colour", on brand recognition, rather than old-fashioned policy debate.
Think of it as a Pepsi Challenge.
It used to be that Pepsi ran taste tests where consumers believed it to be the better drink than Coca Cola.
Coke retorted by creating a massive, ubiquitous brand. And Coke won.
So while Biden may descend in a TV debate into childish insults when goaded, he generally tries to steer to grown up politics, to policy and strategy.
That’s of no interest to Trump for whom ratings mean "how many people watched", rather than "how many believed?".
The two men are playing by different rules, and the rules which the American electorate prefer will decide the winner.
Trump, like the God who gifted him a virus, wants omnipresence, not approval.
By making sure his name is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, by making sure everyone thinks Trump equals President, then he hopes it will become self-fulfilling.
Four years of erratic delivery is not the point, it’s four years of being the most famous man on the planet that counts.
And if rising from his death bed helps deliver that, then, for Trump at least, perhaps catching coronavirus really was a blessing.
Jimmy Leach is a consultant who is the former head of digital communications for two Prime Ministers and the former head of digital diplomacy at the Foreign Office. He has also had senior roles at The Guardian, Independent and HuffPost UK.
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