The White House physician, surrounded by a group of other doctors, emerged just before noon on Saturday from Walter Reed medical center to give a sunny update on President Donald Trump’s condition after his positive Covid-19 diagnosis.
“This morning the President is doing very well,” said Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley, adding: “The President is fever-free for over 24 hours.”
Roughly half an hour after that rosy assessment, came this from a “source familiar with the President’s health” speaking to the print and TV pool reporters, “The President’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We are still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”
Uh, what? It’s not hard to reconcile what Conley said about Trump’s current condition with what the “source familiar with the President’s health” said mere minutes later. It’s impossible to reconcile the two statements.
And the net result is that the public has no real idea what condition Trump is actually in. Does he have a very mild case of the virus as spokespeople and allies — and Conley — have suggested since we learned he was positive for coronavirus early Friday morning? And that he was taken to the hospital out of an abundance of caution? Or are there real concerns that Trump’s condition is far more serious, as the use of an experimental Regeneron polyclonal antibody cocktail — not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration — and the eerie background quote suggest?
There’s simply no way of knowing, which is the problem. The President of the United States is the single most powerful person in the country — and one of the most powerful in the world. The specifics of his current health matter for a number of reasons, but chief among them is — if he is indeed sicker than Conley is letting on — maintaining the continuity of government.
Contributing to the uncertainty is the fact that Trump has long obfuscated when it comes to his medical health prior to coming into the White House in 2017. In fact, we know less about his health than we do any modern president.
Consider this: Trump released zero medical records when he ran for president in 2016. What he did release was a letter from Dr. Harold Bornstein, his longtime personal physician, that asserted simply: “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency. His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary.”
Which, of course, is crazy. Bornstein had never examined any past president. So his ability to claim that Trump would be the “healthiest individual” ever to be president is roughly equivalent to my ability