The Great Escape…

When I was 19, I ran for sophomore class president at the University of Washington. The night before the election there was a convertible caravan through the campus ending at a bonfire and outdoor stage where we candidates were to give campaign speeches. Great theater. The only complication was that I was a patient in the University Hospital. I had a classic case of mononucleosis – the kissing disease – and with swollen neck glands and a small fever university doctors thought it was serious enough to keep me in the hospital for a few days.

But the campaign was nearing its end and I wanted to ride in the parade and give my campaign speech. The solution was to have my buddies engineer an escape from the hospital – down the fire escape in my pajamas, stick a wedge under the door so I could get back in, a quick change in the car, and on to the parade. It was great. I sat up in the back of the convertible, waving to the crowd with friends who knew about my hospitalization cheering wildly as I drove by. 

I gave my little campaign pitch and the escape team drove me back to the hospital. Unfortunately, the wedge was gone, the fire escape door was locked, and I was out of luck. The only way back in was to ring the night bell and deal with the staff’s anger to re-enter. They let me in reluctantly and I sheepishly returned to my bed in the student ward.

Does this resonate with you – a person with a contagious infectious disease hospitalized for his own health and the protection of others who rebels against his doctors’ judgment and escapes to make a public appearance and showboat for a crowd of his supporters? Yup!!! 1957 meet 2020.

I was 19, and recklessly selfish. I was contagious and didn’t think about the effect on others. I was out of line but didn’t suffer any negative consequences for my indiscretion. I stayed in the hospital for two more days and was released for the last month of the school year. And…won the election for class president.

Donald Trump was also recklessly selfish He should have known better and others are telling him so. But, he’s a willful 74-years-old and his contagious disease is not mononucleosis. He has a virus that’s killed 214,000 Americans, yet three days after his diagnosis he’s claiming victory over the virus and using his hospitalization to grandstand with two finely choreographed entertainments – a joyride in a Secret Service vehicle to wave to supporters demonstrating outside the hospital, and a grand moment with helicopter arrival, slow walk up the White House stairs to strategically positioned American flags on the Truman balcony, where he theatrically removed his face mask, followed by a super salute to the helicopter after moving the photographer for a better picture.

He really should have stayed at Walter Reed. Instead, he’s back home where a lesser group, the White House medical team, is monitoring his vital signs –mental instability, steroidal manic episodes, verbal diarrhea, obesity, bone spurs, heart disease, and lack of empathy. 

Can he possibly think that his approach to coronavirus pandemic is a success when these friends and family have all contracted the virus? Melania, Hope Hicks, Stephen Miller, Senators Mike Lee (UT) Ron Johnson (WI) Thom Tillis (NC), Kaylie McEnany and three of her staffers, Ronna McDaniel (RNC Chairperson), Chris Christie, Bill Stepien (campaign chairman), Kellyanne Conway, Nicholas Luna (Trump’s “body man”) and John Jenkins (Notre Dame president).

I’ve always been embarrassed and astonished at my incomparable immaturity and disregard for putting the health and safety of others at risk in 1957. It is no longer incomparable. The comparable is a 74 year-old man-child who is neither embarrassed nor contrite for his callous disregard for the health and safety of others in order to stage two more photo-ops.

The government of the United States is not reality TV, although he has definitely shown himself to be “The Apprentice,” Hopefully he will not be renewed for next season and we can all breathe again.


  1. Jack,
    I heard that Trump thinks Fr. Jenkins is the source of his infection and will withdraw his nomination of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court because of her connection to NotreDame. Any truth to that? Mike

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