Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
On Tuesday, CNN’s Manu Raju asked President Donald Trump why he hadn’t taken a coronavirus test given his potential exposure both at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month and with two members of Congress who had direct contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Here’s the President’s response:“I don’t think it’s a big deal, I would do it, I don’t feel any reason — I feel extremely good.”Trump then added that he has “no symptoms, no anything.”
What the actual hell? As anyone who has watched even five minutes of cable TV over the last few weeks knows, feeling good or even “extremely good” and showing “no symptoms, no anything,” is not evidence that you don’t have coronavirus
“The Point: Trump has never understood the moral responsibilities and imperatives of being President. And he doesn’t appear to be starting now.”
To be clear: There is a very high likelihood Trump doesn’t have it. While he spoke at CPAC, he wasn’t in direct contact with the person who tested positive. And while Trump did shake hands and spend time with two members of Congress who were in direct contact with the individual — Reps. Matt Gaetz (Florida) and Doug Collins (Georgia) — Gaetz announced Tuesday afternoon that he has tested negative for coronavirus.
But that is sort of not the point. In moments of crisis like these, the country looks to its leaders — most specifically the President — to provide moral leadership.
Trump has never been strong on that front — his reaction to the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 being a case in point.
If he understood his role as a moral leader, Trump would submit to the test — modeling appropriate behavior for the public.
Sure, it would be done out of an abundance of caution, given that he almost certainly hasn’t been infected. But it would also provide leadership, destigmatizing and demystifying the idea of being tested. It would show that Trump was willing to go above and beyond prescribed conduct for the good of the American people.